8 Steps to Thinking Creatively: Overcoming Paradigm Paralysis

by Michael Haberman on August 9, 2010 · 4 comments

I have mentioned before that I am reading Futuring: The Exploration of the Future by Edward Cornish. It is absolutely chocked full of great ideas and information. In Chapter 10 he talks about Inventing the Future. Well to “invent the future” you have to think creatively. To provide some guidance on this Cornish tells about the work of Michael Michalko, who studied the work of many of the world’s most creative geniuses. (His book is Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius) Michalko came up with a list of eight steps that he found had been used by creative geniuses of the past. These are:

  1. Look at a problem in may different ways. Much like Leonardo da Vinci did in looking at his creations from multiple vantage points. He drew the different points of view. (And the added benefit if you draw is that maybe some day you will be famous too.)
  2. Make your thoughts visible. Diagrams are an excellent tool to make your thoughts visible. (Hey it worked for Galileo).
  3. Produce a lot. And this means alot. Edison is famous for this as is Issac Asimov, who wrote 450 books. To my way of thinking this is similar to Gladwell’s 10,000 hours concept as found in Outliers: The Story of Success.
  4. Combine Things in new ways. New relationships of well-known concepts or ideas may spark something for you. It worked for Albert Einstein with E=mc2 (2 =squared). No one had thought of combining energy, mass and the speed of light together.
  5. Force Relationships. Samuel Morse came up with the solution to weak telegraph signals one day by watching a team of horses being switched out at a relay station thus getting the idea of boosting the signal as it went along the wires. (Hmmm… how can I apply that to HR?)
  6. Think in opposites. What if we ate dessert before dinner or we grew younger rather than older. (Benjamin Button anyone?) How might this apply to incentives versus rewards?
  7. Think metaphorically. Can you recognize resemblences between very different situations? Take a lesson from Aristotle.
  8. Prepare for the benefits of chance. Chance happens. As Louis Pasteur said “Luck favors the prepared mind.”

You may want to print this list out and keep it on your desk. Make yourself a WW?D sign, where you substitute the ? with the names of Albert, Aristotle, Thomas, Leonardo or your personal favorite genius.

Thinking creatively will help you overcome one major problem PARADIGM PARALYSIS. Paradigm paralysis can best be described by the sentence “We have always done it that way because…. ” How many times have we heard that a collegue or manager? Well don’t let them get away with it. And don’t allow yourself to be lulled into thinking this way.

So think creatively… become an HR genius.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ben Tien August 9, 2010 at 11:11 pm

Creative thinking also calls for applying your knowledge the right way. For this you need to regularly enhance and update your knowledge base.



Michael D. Haberman, SPHR August 10, 2010 at 10:42 am

That is a great point Ben. Creativity will not grow in a stale brain.


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