“It is impossible to travel faster than the speed of light, and certainly not desirable, as one's hat keeps blowing off.” -Woody Allen
The "Six Hats" Evaluation Technique.
Using this technique, an idea is placed within a metaphorical (imaginary) colored hat and is tried on by the evaluator. Each colored hat represents a different mode of thinking, or an alternate point-of-view from which to evaluate an idea. For each idea you generate, try on each hat and see how it fits. Don't rely on just one hat to help you make an intelligent decision. Following is a summary of what each of the hats represents and how to think when wearing it. Remember that these different evaluations can be applied individually as well as in group situations.
-Blue Hat: This hat is used to control the evaluation process and choose the best path to follow when analyzing your ideas. Ask yourself: What should be done next? How have I done so far? In what order should the hats be used?
-Yellow Hat: Use this hat to promote the power of positive thinking. Ask yourself: What are all of the reasons why the idea will work? What is good about this idea? What are the benefits? Who will benefit? How will the benefits happen? Is this idea right for the situation?
-Red Hat: Think about your intuition, feelings, and emotions. Ask yourself: How do I feel about this? What intuition do I have? Your intuition doesn't need to be justified, but should be recognized as a factor in making intelligent decisions.
-Black Hat: This hat promotes judgment and caution (if needed), as well as a logical way of thinking. Ask yourself: What aspects of the idea will not work? What issues exist? Utilizing this hat when evaluating an idea will help keep you from making rash decisions and from doing insane things. The drawback, however, is that it's easy to over-evaluate or analyze something, so don't overuse it!
-White Hat: This hat represents the need for facts and figures, such as research data. Ask yourself: What additional information or research data is needed? What information is missing? How should I get the additional information that's needed? In terms of facts and figures, what's missing?
-Green Hat: This hat focuses on your creativity (lateral thinking) and encourages you to build upon the idea and expand upon it even further. Ask yourself: What new ideas do I have? What are the possibilities? What is the potential?
The Six Hats method is a convenient and practical way to get the best out of individual and group thinking. It is a non-ego-threatening way to escape thinking ruts. It leads people away from considering only why things cannot work and guides them toward positive creative thinking. The thinker can focus on one mode of thinking (wear one Hat) at a time.
Six Thinking Hats - Edward DeBono
Drop That Assumption
“The creative individual has the capacity to free himself from the web of social pressures in which the rest of us are caught. He is capable of questioning the assumptions that the rest of us accept." -John W. Gardner
Folklore has it that explorer Christopher Columbus challenged some Spanish courtiers to stand an egg on end. They tried but were unable to keep it from rolling over. Columbus then hard-boiled the egg and squashed one end of it to create a base. Not fair, the courtiers protested. "Don't be silly," Columbus replied. "You just assumed more than you needed to."
Assumptions are one of the mind's great success stories. They allow us to anticipate what will happen in a particular situation and prepare accordingly. The more assumptions we make, the more likely we are to see only what we expect to see, and the less likely we are to find the unexpected.
Inventor Thomas Edison had a simple test he used to measure the "unexpectedness quotient" of prospective employees. He would invite a candidate to lunch and serve a bowl of soup. He would then watch to see whether the person salted his soup before tasting it. If he did, he wouldn't be offered the job. Edison felt that people are more open to different possibilities if they don't salt their experience of life before tasting it.
A good way to practice dropping assumptions is with "lateral thinking" puzzles, which require us to let go of our initial assumptions in order to solve them. Here is a classic example of this genre: "John and Mary are lying dead on the floor and there is broken glass and water all around them. How did they die?" Many people assume that the description is of a murder scene. Were they poisoned or shot to death? Perhaps they were stabbed with broken glass. Others assume there was an accident, or perhaps that a hurricane has drowned them. These explanations are plausible given the information provided. The catch is that John and Mary are two goldfish whose bowl has been accidentally knocked to the floor. It's only when you "forget" your assumption that John and Mary are human beings that you find the solution.
Here are three lateral thinking puzzles for you to practice and develop your assumption-dropping skills!
1. Five beautiful and well-dressed women are standing in a tight group. One is crying and she's never been happier. The other four are smiling and they have never been more disappointed. What is going on?
2. Franz is guilty of no crime, yet he is surrounded by four uniformed men, one of whom hits him until he cries. Why?
3. Two identical twin sisters go to a restaurant, sit at a corner booth, and order exactly the same drink. One sister drinks hers quickly, and the other sister drinks hers slowly. The one who drinks slowly dies shortly thereafter. Why?
Think about them and see how many you can solve, before you click here (will open in new browser window) to see the answers.
1) The results of a beauty pageant had just been announced. The crying woman is the winner, and the graciously smiling women are the runners-up.
2) Franz is a newborn baby, and a doctor is slapping his rear to get him to fill his lungs with air.
3) The ice cubes are poisoned, and the sister who drinks quickly survives because she didn't give them time to melt.
Expect the Unexpected or you won’t find it – Roger von Oech
“Creativity is having an original idea of value.” -Sir Ken Robinson
Creativity involves a dynamic interplay between generating ideas and making judgments about them. Getting the balance right is critical. Imaginative activity is the process of generating something original: providing an alternative to the conventional or routine. It's a form of mental play that is essentially generative, in which we attempt to expand the possibilities of a situation, to look at it from a new perspective.
Playing with ideas.
As Carl Jung puts it, the creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect alone but by the play instinct. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.
Creative activity involves playing with ideas and trying out possibilities. But creative achievement does not always require freedom from constraints or a blank page. Great work often comes from working within formal constraints. Some of the finest poetry is in the form of the sonnet, which has a fixed form to which the writer must submit. Japanese haiku similarly makes specific formal demands on the poet, as do many other forms of poetic structure. These do not inhibit the writer's Creativity; they set a framework for it. The creative achievement and the aesthetic pleasure lie in using standard forms to achieve unique effects and original insights.
Out of our minds – learning to be creative
Sir Ken Robinson (Senior Advisor to the J. Paul Getty Trust)