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Creativity at Work: Sparking Creativity

A Gordian Knot

Sometimes a new idea is needed, especially if something isn’t working as is or you feel like there is a “better” way. And sometimes it’s challenging to see differently or we don’t even realize we have blinders on for new possibilities. This is when a different perspective or spark is needed to help make a shift. These are a few of my favorite ways to spark new ideas from Roger von Oech’s Creative Whack Pack®.


What can you remove, edit, delete, or let go of from a current project or idea?

Editor: I like your book except for the ending.

Author: What’s wrong with the ending?

Editor: It should be closer to the beginning.

Don’t Force It

What might you be forcing? What if you eased off a current way of doing or thinking and let nature or time take its path instead?

An architect built a cluster of office buildings around a central green. When construction was completed, the landscape crew asked him where he wanted the sidewalks. “Just plant the grass solidly between the buildings,” was his reply. By late summer the new lawn was laced with paths of trodden grass between the buildings. These paths turned in easy curves and were sized according to traffic flow. In the fall the architect simply paved the paths. Not only did the paths have a design beauty, they responded directly to user needs.

Ask “What If?”

What off-beat “what if” questions can you ask about your concept?

Put some magic in your thinking by asking “what if” questions. What if animals became more intelligent than people? What if we had mouths in the palms of our hands? What if men also had babies? What if we had edible clothing? What if we elected our officials by lottery? What if people exuded a foul smell from every pore every time they did something bad? These types of questions stretch ideas and lead to new ideas.

Think Like A Kid

What would a six year old see if he were looking at your project?

A high school teacher drew a dot on the blackboard and asked the class what it was. “A chalk dot on the blackboard”, was the only response. The same thing was done with kindergartners and they saw a squashed bug, an owl’s eye, a cow’s head and many more ideas. They had their imaginations in high gear. As Picasso put it, “Every child is an artist. The challenge is to remain an artist as you grow up.”

Challenge the Rules

What rules can you challenge?

According to ancient prophecy, whoever could untie the “Gordian Knot “was destined to become King of Asia. All who tried failed to solve this complicated puzzle. Then Alexander the Great had a turn. After fruitless attempts to find a starting point, he was stymied. Finally, he said, “I’ll just have to make up my own knot-untying rules”. He pulled out his sword and sliced the knot in half. Asia was fated to him. Most advances have occurred when someone challenged the rules and tried a different approach.

What intricate seemingly impossible knot do you have in your life that may be able to be untied by out of the box thinking?

Next week I’ll share ideas on creativity and attitude.

Kerry Lee, a 25 year Benicia resident, is a Certified Intentional Creativity® Teacher and Coach, leading group workshops, experiential retreats (next one is May 19-21 in Sonoma, CA), mobile social painting parties, customized corporate team building and corporate social responsibility events and teaching essential oil lifestyle and wellness classes. Find her at / #TheAlchemicalArtist

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