Disrupted Thinking

As human beings we are great at forming patterns and piecing together logical connections until we have the answer. We are so good at this we can quickly disregard irrelevant information and unlikely avenues of exploration with barely a glance, effortlessly trotting outthe same old solutions. We have become experts at ‘cutting and pasting’. Unfortunately, this form of logical thinking often isn’t enough. We also need tools that will disrupt our comfortable use of logic and pattern making just enough for us to investigate the alternatives, however improbable. Edward de Bono provides a very fine discussion of this in his excellent book Serious Creativity.

In this blog series on Disrupted Thinking I am going to look at some of the many ways we can plan to disrupt logical thinking and introduce creative thinking. These are the major groups I’ll be looking at:

  • Forced connections: techniques like random words, force fit analogy, and provocation are designed to shock us into forming unusual connections
  • Imagination: techniques like future scenarios and the hall of fame can help us consider other viewpoints to engage our minds more actively
  • Bits and Pieces: techniques like SCAMPER, reversal and chunking all work by breaking the problem space up into lots of smaller parts and then manipulating and playing with those parts and the way they interact to form new and creative solutions
  • Questions: techniques like force field analysis, CIA questions, the Five Whys, and TERMS all use questioning to focus our attention more constructively
  • Structured activities: approaches like TRIZ, Six thinking hats, and morphological boxes all take a bit more work so I’ve classed them as standalone activities in their own right

Note: this grouping is a bit rough, I chose it quite quickly after getting bogged down trying to find the perfect categorisation for creative thinking techniques. Depending on feedback, I may revisit this grouping later on. Perhaps I’ll write a general theory of creativity or something which comes up with an answer.

Now What?

The Disrupted Thinking theme is designed to showcase a range of creative thinking tools. The purpose of each of these tools is to disrupt our usual reliance on critical thought and explore the road less travelled. A good place to start is by trying these tools out next time you run a brainstorm. Alternatively, the next time you find yourself about to cut and paste, stop…and try something different. You never know, it might just give you something better.


3 thoughts on “Disrupted Thinking

  1. I agree with you completely, although I would say most people work on a problem until they find “A” answer not “THE” answer. The items you mention to help with this type of thinking are very valuable. Looking forward to reading the following posts.

    1. You are right of course. I tried using THE answer to illustrate our mistaken belief that once we have an answer, we tend to think that’s it. A kind of accidental exclusion. I probably should have explained that a bit more. Anyway, I’m looking forward to writing the series and showing how we can find lots of answers

      An example comes to mind. Here in Australia taxi drivers will often ask which way you want to go (to get to your destination) because so many passengers have a strong view of THE right way to go. It’s the same with thinking. We make a series of choices, choose an answer and spend a lot of effort defending our choice and reinforcing the view that we have the best answer … sometimes leading us to the belief that all other answers are wrong.

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