Judy Olbrych

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THINK TANK – Boost Your Creativity Now With This Simple Tool

THINK TANK – Boost Your Creativity Now With This Simple ToolTHINK TANK - BOOST<br />
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Judy Olbryeh

 It’s not armoured. It’s a ball with a window …

… and a little-known secret of creativity.

If you grew up with macramé and mood rings, you might also remember something very much like it: The Magic 8 Ball.

Invented in the 1950s, this fluid-filled plastic billiard ball contained a floating die imprinted with the answers to all of life’s most pressing and important questions. As long as they were basically Yes or No questions.

Like “Are we having pizza for dinner?” or “Will I be famous?”

Shake the ball, watch the die float up to the clear plastic window, and voila!

You get an immediate answer.

The plastic globe that came much later, The Think Tank, was the invention of Savo Bojecic and came with an instruction booklet by Dr. Edward De Bono.

De Bono was a physician, psychologist, inventor, and author of over 70 books. Born on the island of Malta, he trained first as a physician. Then he became a Rhodes Scholar and studied psychology. He went on to advise large companies and leaders of state.

According to De Bono, creative thinking is a skill. We don’t have to be born with it. We can develop it ourselves with the right tools. That’s good news.

Here’s the problem …

The Challenge to Think Creatively

For over 2000 years, we’ve carried on a reliable tradition of logical thinking taught by Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates, De Bono says. We’ve based new ideas on established truths. We’ve drawn logical conclusions. Everything makes sense and fits in perfectly with what we’ve said before. That’s Vertical thinking. And it’s useful.

However, when we continue to refine and reaffirm our well-trodden neural and logical pathways, we limit our creativity.

De Bono’s solution is to establish a new mode of thinking.

He calls it Lateral Thinking.

By disrupting old patterns and introducing unrelated data, we can greatly increase our power to make new connections and discover new insights.

De Bono’s books and courses provide ways to help people learn lateral thinking.  One technique he teaches is provocation.

In a provocation, there may not be a logical reason for saying something until AFTER it has been said. By putting ourselves in a new position with a previously unrelated idea, fact, question, or story, we break up old patterns.

In the end, we use logic to clean up our work ... but only after a period of suspended judgement allows our minds to romp freely through the meadows, forests, and infinite interstellar space of new possibilities.

Anyway, getting back to De Bono’s globe …

The Secret of the Think Tank

The Think Tank was a practical tool to help people generate new ideas through provocation. It contained over 10,000 words printed on little pieces of plastic. It even came with a 90-page companion book to help thinkers get the most out of this new breakthrough technology.

This is how it works:

You shake up the ball and rotate it until you can see 3 words through the plastic window.

Then you relate those random words to whatever project or question you’re working on.

Now if you don’t have a Think Tank, you can always print out a huge list of words, cut them apart and stick them in a cookie jar.

But you won’t have to. Luckily, someone has already made the app.

Let’s give it a whirl.

Bear in mind, picking the 3 words is only the beginning. You have to use them. And don’t get bogged down searching for the perfect trio.

In fact, the worse the choices appear to be, the more you’ll probably stretch your brain to make those juicy connections.

I set a Random Generator List Tool to pick 3 words and got these:

Web  Clover  Abduction

In closing this post, I might mention how wonderful it is that we all have access to the world wide web, so we can access free writing and speaking helps. By using tools like the random word generator, we’ll set ourselves apart from the other bees in the corporate clover patch. And we won’t have to rescue our speech patterns from abduction by the culture of academic committee meetings and quarterly reports.

While I plopped all three words directly into the above text, De Bono suggests giving yourself time to record any random words or ideas that pop into your head while you consider your combination of words/problems/stories/ideas. Read more about his technique in the book, Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step

You try it now!

TEXT FIXER Random Word Generator


The Magic 8 Ball is still available from Mattel, the original manufacturer. Though the ball is practically indestructible, the answers aren’t guaranteed. There now. You’ve been warned.

This post first appeared on www.judyolbrych.com 

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