Sunday, April 28, 2019

Griffiths, The Creative Thinking Handbook

The Creative Thinking Handbook: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Problem Solving in Business by Chris Griffiths with Melina Costi (Kogan Page, 2019) starts with the bold statement that knowledge is no longer power. So much for you, Francis Bacon (or perhaps Thomas Hobbes) and, much earlier, Imam Ali. Creativity is the new power. The author defines creativity as “the incubator and cultivator of new ideas, which are born from existing knowledge and combined to form a new neural pathway in the brain, leading to a personal original thought.”

Griffiths’ book is divided into three parts: common thinking errors, finding solutions, and “the end of the beginning.”

Common thinking errors are selective thinking, reactive thinking, and assumptive thinking. These are more or less self-explanatory.

The heart of the book is the second part, where the author introduces his Solution Finder. It is based on four simple steps: understanding (define the challenge), ideation (generate ideas), analysis (evaluate ideas), and direction (implement the solution).

Let’s look briefly at ways of generating ideas. (Griffiths focuses on group settings, but with some modifications these methods can be applied to individual idea generation as well.) First, we have the classic rules for brainstorming: go for quantity, welcome wild and unusual ideas, postpone judgment, and combine and build on ideas. Then there is the ideation toolkit, whose tools include the reverse brainstorm canvas, metaphoric thinking canvas, and combinational creativity canvas. With reverse brainstorming, you state the reverse of your problem or challenge, brainstorm ideas to solve the reversed problem, and flip your reversed solutions. In the metaphoric thinking model, you reframe the problem using a metaphor (e.g., “I want more customers” becomes “How to catch a fish”), solve the metaphor (e.g., use correct bait, watch fishing shows on TV), and then map each key idea that you generated to solve the metaphor back to the original problem. The last model, the combinational, starts with sensible ideas, moves on to non-sensible ideas, and then tries to mix and match the sensible and the non-sensible to produce “ideas that are new, functional and unexpected.”

Of course, creative problem-solving endeavors are useless or worse if there is no follow-through. “Persistence is the fuel needed to build upon your best ideas and navigate the highs and lows that accompany implementation. Welcome to the unglamorous side of the creative process!”

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