Thinking creatively (part 2 of 3)Overcoming the natural barriers in your mind [Archives:2005/835/Health]

April 21 2005

By Mohammed Al-tom
Sana'a Branch Manager
[email protected]
For the Yemen Times

In order to succeed in developing your innate creativity, you need to overcome the natural barriers in your mind. Start to challenge your usual approach to situations.

Overcoming barriers

A big barrier to creative thinking is a tendency to seek quick solutions to problems. This may help you in the short term, but you will not excel in the long run. Look at the way you currently use your time, and start to spend more time being creative.

Human beings have a natural tendency to seek quick and simple solution to problems. We often know the answer we want and make sure the facts support our chosen solution. However, some situations require a different, more creative approach. Divergent thinking focuses on generating as many ideas as possible and opening up new opportunities in order to find a ''best fit'' solution. Make the time to think creatively, think about the big picture, and avoid rushing to quick conclusions.

Making the time

The Japanese believe that there are four types of managerial time: ''Operational time''-the time necessary to correct yesterday's errors; “Strategic time”- the time needed to plan for the future; “Innovative time”-the time needed to become more competitive tomorrow; and “Kaizen time”-the time needed for the continuous improvements that ensure that we will have a tomorrow. It is generally true that we do not devote enough time to finding better ways of doing things. Make the time to review what you could improve in your work and your life, and than take action.

The Japanese believe that senior managers should spend no more than 25 per cent of their time on operational issues. The rest of their time should be spread across the other three categories. The more time senior managers spend on operational issues, the less time they can spend working creatively, and this reflects poor planning. Assess how you can restructure your time more effectively.

Remember that the only way to manage time successfully is to set yourself realistic schedules, and then to stick to them

We need to believe that we can think the unthinkable and believe the unbelievable. Challenge the accepted way of doing things. Overcome your fear of looking foolish in front of other people and have the courage to put forward your ideas

Challenging beliefs

Sometimes we have creative ideas, but we are reluctant to put them forward because they may create precedents that “go outside the box” of accepted beliefs. You may not like to say something that others may find challenging and thus reject. Being creative means not only having the ability to come up with ideas but also being willing to challenge the conventional wisdom. Realize that all creative solution, by their very nature, involve change and change involves having the courage to challenge the status quo.

Thinking the unthinkable

New ideas are essential for progress, yet most new ideas are initially perceived in a negative way. The unknown is seen as dangerous, and an individual's instinctive response to a new idea is often to reject it, because it is safer to stay with what he or she has already tried and tested. Have the courage to think the unthinkable. Persuade others that what seem like impossible ideas are possible.

Benefiting from change

Most people are intuitively opposed to any idea that they see as “not being in their best interest”. The problem is that opposing a new idea does not stop others benefiting from it. For example, deciding not to implement a technical innovation in your organization does not prevent a competitor from making that change. Recognize that those who fail to change will be left behind.

Being creative means using a different approach to the way you solve certain problems. This is not something you need to do all the time- this approach is time- consuming and irrelevant when the solution to the problem is clear (close-ended). However, if a problem is open-ended and has a number of potential solutions, start to form some creative ideas and discuss them with others.

When you put forward a creative idea, you stand the risk of being called foolish. No one wants to look foolish in front of their peers and this innate fear often prevents people from voicing their ideas. Do not be deterred by the fear of being ridiculed- have confidence in yourself when you express your ideas.

Changing your approach

To be able to increase your inventiveness, you need to learn how to tap into your mind's creative resources. Practice changing your natural approach to problems until the new method becomes instinctive. Take the time to exercise your mind.

Preparing to change

The way you do things is determined by your values- your beliefs. These are influenced by the culture you grew up in and are also affected by your character. Thus, if you enjoy structure, you will tend to resist changes that appear to cut across your desire for order. If you prefer a flexible lifestyle, you will resist changes that threaten to impose order on you. Recognize that adapting your behavior requires practice, until the change in your approach becomes a” natural” impulse.

Learning to change

Changing is one of the few constants in life. Some embrace it, others “wait and see”. But no one can avoid it. Try following a set process to move from a current behavior to a new one. For example, for some people, being overweight is a lifestyle problem. Changing this situation means following guidelines (a diet) and having regular weight checks (feedback) to create new eating habits. Identify the change you want to make, commit to change, resolve any potential obstacles in your path, and than take action.

Exercising your mind

Developing your creative potential means freeing up your mind. Just as someone who is used to a sedentary life and decides to take a walking holiday needs to get fit before the trip, so you need to train your mind to work in new ways before you can develop your own creative potential. Try exercising your mind. For example, imagine where you would like to be in a year's time. Focus the image so that you can touch, hear, and feel it. Develop a plan that will help you achieve this aim.


1- Recognize the advantages and pitfalls of different thinking patterns

2- Structure your time so that it is more productive

3- Generate lots of ideas before making decisions

4- There are many ways of looking at things

5-Be ready to question the accepted

6-View problems as an impetus to change

7-Ask questions even if they seem ridiculous

8-Recognize that developing creativity takes time and practice.