January 06, 2001

People can teach themselves to think more creatively, according to creativity expert Michael Michalko. They can start by undoing the established thinking patterns that hold them back.

1. Put your thinking into reverse. Alfred P. Sloan, CEO of General Motors, pioneered installment buying by reversing the common assumption that people had to pay for a car before they drove it.

2. Expand perceptions. A bookstore owner who fears the power of electronic media might redefine himself as a pro-vider of information and entertainment -- rather than as a seller of books only -– and turn the problem into a new business opportunity.

3. Get crazy. A group of engineers faced the problem of preventing ice from downing power lines. One suggested that they put a pot of honey on each pole; bears would climb the poles and their vibrations would dislodge the ice. The absurd notion prompted a practical solution: using helicopters to blow the ice off.

4. Don’t think. If you want to produce a creative automobile design, don’t think about car shapes at all -- try sketching human bodies in motion instead. These "unrelated" compositions could trigger a new design.

For more information at http://www.wfs.org

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