Working Backwards to Unleash Your Creativity
To brainstorm ideas, try working backwards by taking a conceptual solution and finding a problem it can solve
1) As per the title, you CAN start ANYWHERE in the process – let your need drive you. Ex: if you are at a step near the end (ex: planning for implementation) and it shows that the proposed solution is fatally flawed, then you should jump back to an earlier step in the creativity-enhancement process and make some changes to the idea (or come up with a new one) if you want to get much better results.
2) If you are brand new to creativity-enhancement, the old SCAMPER model is by far one of the best methods for sparking new ideas. (I described it below.) Even the pros turn to it when needed.
3) The article I review is badly flawed, so I added some value for you. I highlighted it to warn you that great titles and authoritative media outlets do not always mean quality content. Too often, these poor articles are often an excuse to plug a book or a blog.
Bottom line: SCAMPER will serve you far better than the "approach" in this article. (see below)
Starting anywhere in the creative problem solving process will get you better results than not starting.
MY RANT (then I will give you the meat):
I do not believe you ALWAYS have to study something in school to be good at it. Yet, I am finishing my Master-level studies in the Science of Creativity, and I can tell garbage from gold. But too many people feel that since there is a serious lack of awareness of creativity as a formal subject of study, then anyone can write something about the subject and be "authoritative". Again it is worse when these articles appear in respected magazines such as Bloomberg BusinessWeek! 🙁
This article is drivel. So why highlight it? Because it does a disservice to those of us who study and work with creativity as a real skill. If you have any interest in the subject (and you are reading this, right?), then you need to be warned that much of the material out there is not complete or even useful, but is often the flimsiiest excuse to plug a book or a blog.
REAL GOOD CONTENT:
Guess what: working backwards works … when it works!
Seriously, who says you ALWAYS have to approach creative problem solving the same way each time? You can start ANYWHERE in the process – the moment you realize you need creativity in order to move beyond where you are to get the next step (or to look back and get a better answer from a previous step).
Imagine you are getting stuck implementing something that looks more and more like a mess of a solution. Odds are it is either poorly thought out or does not address the real problem in the first place. You can tweak with it all you want, but that likely will not help. Go back to where the decision was made to implement what you are implementing and see if you can find a better solution or a whole new one!
Try the proven SCAMPER model if you want to use something to help you generate ideas you may not have thought of. SCAMPER was developped by Robert Eberle who played with Alex Osborn’s (inventor of Brainstorming) list.
SCAMPER is an acronym for seven ACTION verbs to trigger ideas.
Adapt / Add
Modify / Magnify / Minimize
Put to other uses
Rearange / Reverse
Note: over the years, some have modified the list with related verbs – I have included some of these additions (see the verbs after the "/") because they may be of use to you.
You SCAMPER by asking questions in many variations.
Ex: What can I substitute in this part/activity or product/process?
Where else? I
n what ays can I substitute? etc.
Do the same for the other verbs in SCAMPER – see how many useful insights you get!
Do NOT worry if you cross over the line into other verbs – go with the flow. Just exercise some dicipline and return to the root verb until your facilitator move the group on to another verb.
For more information, just Google SCAMPER and you will get some results. I have used it but not put up a dedicated page … yet 🙂
Thank you if you have read this far. I would love to hear your comments.
See on www.businessweek.com