Creative interest


Edward de Bono explains why value, and not 'difference', is a powerful source of interest – a key factor in creative thinking.

One of the key elements in creativity is interest. People say, 'Now, that is interesting'; 'What is interesting about that is...' and 'Very interesting'. However, while 'difference' can be a source of interest, it is not usually sufficient by itself.

Too many people believe that 'being different' is enough where creativity is concerned. Being different visually might get an idea noticed, but that is all. The 'different thing' has to deliver real value, otherwise being different is not creativity. However, it is true that making something different might act as a 'provocation', from which you can move on to something of value.

We search for interesting concepts. We stay on the lookout for what is interesting. We take note of things that are interesting. Things that are interesting attract our attention, once we develop that habit of mind. So when we focus on what is interesting, what should we do next?

We explore the point that is of interest. What are the implications, the ramifications, the effects and the results, and how are other things affected?

Exploration always goes further than the initial judgement. Exploration might involve the mental process of 'movement', which is a key part of lateral thinking.

Any point of development can itself become a focus of interest and act as a springboard for other things. The journey continues. It is not so much assessing the idea as exploring the impact of the idea and the values involved.

When we explore interest, we should always look for 'value', because in the end that is what we are interested in. Value or changes in value are automatically of interest.

There are two types of value, the first being 'functional value'. Ask yourself, will the idea work or will it carry out the necessary function?

For instance, if a new idea for streetlights fails to control traffic flow, then that idea has no operational value.

The second type of value is the 'benefit value' – what benefit does the new idea bring to the different parties involved. For example, a new idea in supermarkets might benefit the customer, but at the expense of the operator – or vice versa.

These values should be part of the consideration of what is interesting.

more articles

About The Author

Edward de Bono
Edward de Bono

Edward de Bono is a leading authority in the field of creative thinking. Over 35 years after the publication of his first book, "The Mechanism of Mind", the basic principles he outlined are now mainstream thinking in the mathematics of self-organising systems and in the design of neuro-computers. His many subsequent books have been translated into 26 languages.