A great idea is not enough, you need to know how to execute it and navigate any challenges that may come from it.
One way to find a balance between creativity and problem solving is by using a technique called divergent thinking. Divergent thinking is a way of exploring a variety of solutions to a problem. Instead of focusing on conventional thinking, it explores many different paths to solve the problem.
Six hats are better than one
Let’s take a look at the Six Hats method.
The Six Hats method is a structured approach to thinking developed by Dr. Edward de Bono. It involves dividing thinking into six different categories, represented by six different coloured "hats." These hats represent different types of thinking as follows:
- White Hat neutral and objective thinking, focusing on facts and information
- Red Hat emotional and intuitive thinking, focusing on feelings and gut reactions
- Black Hat critical and analytical thinking, focusing on evaluating and judging ideas
- Yellow Hat optimistic and positive thinking, focusing on benefits and possibilities
- Green Hat creative and divergent thinking, focusing on generating new ideas
- Blue Hat strategic and controlling thinking, focusing on planning and organisation
Each hat attacks different aspects of the problem/solution. When I’m writing, I like to view these hats as pen portraits of the brand’s customer. The different perspectives that each one brings encourages a range of thinking styles and writing outputs.
Or, when I have limited time on a project, I look to divergent thinking as a technique.
You can do this by writing down your ideas and then connecting them to each other. Use a mind map session to explore new possibilities and generate more ideas. I also combine this with the following techniques from time to time:
- Free-writing: It's probably the most common technique out there. Set a timer for a certain amount of time (10 minutes for example) and write continuously without stopping or worrying about spelling, grammar, or whether what you're writing makes sense. This can help to get ideas flowing and overcome writer's block.
- Random word association: Write down a word that you want to generate ideas around and then write down as many other words as you can think of that are related to it, without overthinking or judging the relevance of each word. This can help to generate a wide range of ideas and make connections that you may not have otherwise thought of.
- Reverse brainstorming: Instead of trying to think of ways to solve a problem, try to think of ways to make the problem worse. This can help to generate a wide range of ideas and can also help to identify potential roadblocks or challenges that need to be addressed.
One of the benefits of using divergent thinking as an approach is that it helps to generate a wide range of ideas and perspectives, which can lead to more creative and innovative solutions. It can help you overcome mental blocks and biases, and help you see connections between seemingly unrelated ideas.
Without a framework creative projects can become bogged down by obstacles and roadblocks. To create a framework for divergent thinking, I start by writing down my ideas and then connecting them to each other. I draw arrows to link related ideas and create clusters of ideas. By visualising my ideas, I can quickly see which areas need more exploration, and which ideas are most promising. I also use brainstorming sessions to explore new possibilities and generate more ideas.
Don't let the pursuit of creativity lead to neglecting the importance of problem solving. I'll be interested to hear what techniques you use to keep your thoughts flowing.