Seven Habits of Successful Creative Thinkers

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(Developed by John Adair – see Effective Innovation by John Adair)

John Adair suggests that successful creative thinkers regularly practice the following – in other words, they develop these approaches as habits.

1) Go Beyond the Nine Dots

  • Challenge assumptions
  • Free yourself from fixed ideas
  • Define the problem correctly
  • Look for alternative ways of doing things or unusual solutions
  • Forget the rules and see if there could be other ways to do it

2) Welcome Chance Intrusions

  • Inventor’s luck
  • Practise serendipity – seize on lucky chances. Serendipity means finding welcome or enjoyable things when you are not looking for them
  • Be alert for inspirations from any source – for example,

3) Listen to Your Depth Mind

  • Prepare, incubate, illuminate, verify
  • Sleep on problems & solutions
  • Often the solution to a problem comes after you have stopped concentrating on it! Sleeping on it, going out for a walk or doing something entirely different can free your mind to work in its own time. When you return to the problem the solution may appear quite easily

4) Suspend Judgement

  • Don’t criticise your own ideas prematurely – don’t dismiss it because it does not seem conventional or sensible.
  • Beware of quick fire critics – don’t let others pour cold water on your idea before you have had a chance to try it out or work it through
  • Choose constructive critics – find people who can build on your ideas rather than dismiss them out of hand

5) Use the Stepping Stones of Analogy

  • Models for solutions probably exist somewhere – for example, the cat’s eyes used in our roads were suggested when the inventor saw light reflected from the eyes of a real cat in the dark.  The shape of the spitfire’s wing was inspired by the wing of a seagull

6) Tolerate Ambiguity

Seven Habits of Successful Creatie Thinkers

What do you see here?

A piece of pie or a pie with a piece missing?

  • Don’t be too quick to try to apply rules or regulations to your idea
  • Be prepared for your solution to appear to contradict conventional wisdom – everyone knew the world was flat and that the sun went around the earth at one time!
  • Get working – don’t wait for inspiration

7) Ideas Banking

  • Collect and save ideas. Use:
    • Curiosity
    • Observation
    • Listening
    • Reading
    • Travelling
    • Recording
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