Encouraging creativity

Apr 08 2008 by Edward de Bono Print This Article

A creative temperament is something that probably does exist. Some people are especially motivated in finding new ideas and these people spend more time than others looking for them. They derive pleasure from being creative in their decision making and they enjoy successes that creativity brings them.

However, creativity is not just for people with these talents. Lateral thinking and its formal techniques can be learned and used deliberately by everyone. You can learn and apply creativity in the same way that mathematics can be learned and applied. Of course, some people will be better than others, but that goes for any skill.

Creative thinking can never offer certainty of finding a great idea. But as the thinker's skill grows, it becomes increasingly likely that interesting ideas, including some great ideas, will follow.

Applying creativity is not without some risk. You might put off using an adequate and routine solution because you are hoping for a better one. This is a question of strategy and pressure of time. You allocate some time to creativity, reverting to the routine solution if your creative thinking has not been successful. You need to use your judgment and decision making skills. But there is never a reason not to try creativity at all.

Trying out a new creative idea might be costly and that might not appeal to you. You must assess the costs against the potential rewards. You have to use your judgment to decide which ideas are likely to work and calculate the potential income from such ideas.

Being creative and being sensible are not at all mutually exclusive. A combination of the two can be most powerful.

You should be prepared to be creative at any time. You might be taking part in a meeting and see that a new approach is necessary, so you must seek such an approach. You can make the effort in a formal creative session designed to produce new ideas.

Allocating some fixed time to creative effort can be very effective as long as it does not mean that creativity is only used during this designated time! When a deliberate time is set aside the habits and techniques of creative thinking are more easily developed because there will be a reluctance to sit there doing nothing at all.

You need to have individual thinking time not just group sessions. In a group session, there is a tendency to react to others instead of doing your own thinking and decision making.

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About The Author

Edward de Bono
Edward de Bono

Edward de Bono (1933-2021) was 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.