Thursday, February 27, 2014

How-To Generate Ideas #15: Learn to Connect the Unconnected

Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected” (William Plomer)

James Webb Young, author of A Technique for Producing Ideas, said, “An idea is nothing more nor less than a new combination of old elements.” The person who knows how to do this is more likely to come up with a new idea than a person who doesn’t. Making connection or combination where none existed before is what an awesome idea is all about.

The essence of this technique is about randomness,” writes Dr. Yew Kam Keong. “Force a connection of your problem at hand with something selected at random. There are practically unlimited possible connections that can be made.” You see something or you hear someone, often totally unconnected to the situation you are trying to resolve and all of the sudden – idea’s light on! Newton and the apple, Archimedes in the bath tub, Johannes with the coin punch and the wine press, for examples.

Here are some suggestions of doing this:
1)    Random Observation. Look around you and try to make connections between things that are already related in some way (Example; Home movies + Internet = YouTube) or things that are very different (Example; Video game + Exercise = Nintendo Wii).
2)    Random Word. Choose a word from the dictionary or book or magazine and look for connections between the word and your problem.
3)    Mind Mapping Ideas. Put a key word or phrase in the middle of the page. Write whatever else comes in your mind on the same page. See if you can make any connections (google or read the founder Tony Buzan’s Mind Mapping method).
4)    Pick up a picture or Quotations & Proverbs. Consider how you can relate it to your situation.

Try it! Combine and connect to get an idea.

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Idea-Quote #6


How-To Generate Ideas #14: Take A Walk

If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking.
Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk
(Raymond Inmon)

One of the greatest creative thinkers of all time – Albert Einstein – I read, always took frequent walks every time he wants to solve problems and generate ideas. And no wonder. Walking gets creative ideas flowing in at least three ways according to Maggie Greenwood-Robinson in her book 20/20 Thinking:

1)     It increases and improves oxygen flow to the brain, energizing brain cells for sharper mental performance.

2)     Some scientists believe that exercise, in general, triggers the release of various brain chemicals that enhance creativity.

3)     Others speculate that exercise may subdue activity in the left half of the brain, the part that deals with logic, and stimulate the right half, which is responsible for creative thought.

Walking and exercise in general enhances both mood and creativity. What kind of exercise? Depend on your physical capacity. Just get physical. Writer of Creativity Now, Jurgen Wolff suggests it is “enough to get your heart beating faster, but not so demanding that you’re gasping for air. This might include fast walking, jogging, or using a cross-trainer or stepper, or even continuous vigorous vacuuming.” He continues, “Just running in place for a few minutes, using a stationary bike, or going up and down the nearest set of stairs will all get your blood flowing faster and more oxygen to your brain.”

Walk. Walk. Walk. Go to the public park such as Taman Rimba or Taman Sahabat. Walk around the Kampung (village) or city. Go to supermarket such as Giant, Everise, H&L, Jaya Jusco, Metro, etc. (or megamalls). Walk around your office area. Walk in campus or university area. Raymond Inmon said, “If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking. Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk.” That angel part, I’m a bit skeptic. That walking and creative ideas part – that’s guarantee!

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

How-To Generate Ideas #13: Look From a Different Perspective

If you look at a room from a different position, you will see different things.
Some things that were hidden in one view become visible in another
(Robert Korn)

When Jonas Edward Salk, a medical researcher, was asked how he discovered and developed the first polio vaccine, he responded, “I pictured myself as a virus or a cancer cell and tried to sense, what it would be like.” He tried from a different perspective.

This is the example of ‘divergent thinking’ which means a thought process or method used to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions (I just learned that term from Wikipedia). Looking at a challenge or problem or situation from a different perspective is an essential component of creativity. It involves the ability to quickly come up with different solutions and alternatives to a problem – and the ability to be original.

Next time when you approach a problem or situation, try to build in new ways to look at it. Maybe you can try finding ideas by picturing yourself as an object. Try imagined that you’re the other person or an audience. Try to be in the customer’s shoes or student’s minds. Try to understand it by using many different kind of chart such as column, pie, bar, line or radar chart. Try different method and language. Try to study context and history. Try to change your positions physically and engage emotionally. Try to find as many perspectives as possible. I tell you, creative ideas will flow like a river.

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Story of Idea #2: Albert Einstein the Scientist had the Mind of a Child

I am enough of the artist to draw freely upon my imagination.
Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited.
Imagination encircles the world” (Albert Einstein)

When Albert Einstein was interviewed on the source of his creative genius, he was purported to have replied, “It was because I’m mentally retarded.” Is it possible that one of the greatest geniuses who ever lived was mentally retarded?

Fortunately, Einstein explained what he meant. Einstein had the mind of a child but the brain of a scientist. Like a child, he was constantly asking probing questions which adults regarded as ‘silly’ like: “What will happen if I ride on a light beam?” Incidentally, it was this question that led to his discovery of his famous Theory of Relativity.

In essence, Einstein never grew up. He retained his childlike curiosity. That was why he considered himself “mentally retarded.” Unlike a child, however, Einstein was able to answer his own questions because he had the knowledge and creativity of a scientist.

Another quality of Einstein was that he imagined in pictures rather than using the language of words in his thinking. Every language carries with it inherent limitations that restrict thinking. For instance, the definition of the word “atom” as an indivisible part of matter restricted thinking about the structure of atoms for many years. Words have limitations. Thinking visually and escaping from our linguistic limitations enriches our imagination.

Therein lies a secret to creativity – maintain the innocent curiosity of a child and imagine in pictures more than words.

Note: Short article above is taken from Dr. Yew Kam Keong’s You Are Creative: Let Your Creativity Bloom, 3rd Edition (Petaling Jaya: Advantage Quest Publications, 2007), Page 17.
Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

How-To Generate Ideas #12: Be More Like a Child

A stick + Something round + add more friends = Fun!
The greatest invention in the world is the mind of a child” (Thomas Edison)

Curiosity is not the quality reserved for the gifted few. Virtually every child is boundlessly curious. But overtime many of us lost our childlike curiosity as we grow up. We stop searching for challenges and exploring new ideas. Thus, Jean Piaget the psychologist suggests: “If you would be more creative stay in part a child, with the creativity and invention that characterizes children before they are deformed by adult society.”

It is the child in you who is creative, not the adult. The adult in you drives to Arena Sukan sport centre and pay for the futsal court. The child in you goes barefoot and plays in the street for free. The adult lifts heavy weights in the gym. The child climbs the trees and play in the playground. The adult thinks too much and too meticulous because he have too many knowledge and set by too many boundaries, rules, assumptions and preconceptions. The child however is innocent and free and does not know what he cannot or should not do and sees the world as it actually is – not as it appears according to what we know previously or taught to believe.

Jack Foster in his book How to Get Ideas said that adult tend to do what they or other people did the last time. He continues: “To children there is no last time. Every time is the first time. And so when they go exploring for ideas they explore a land that is fresh and original, a land without rules, a land without borders or fences or walls or boundaries, a land infinite with promise and opportunity.

To generate more ideas we need to be like child again. Let the child in you come out. Play with matches. Play the piano with your chin. Ask crazy and most honest questions. Draw pictures and colour the tree blue and the grass orange and the cloud pink. Run barefoot at Taman Rimba Recreation Park. Eat ice cream and sit by the sidewalk. Sing or whistle in the elevator. Throw rocks. Create toys. Have fun. Be like a child – and you’ll be surprise by how many new and fresh ideas you gets!

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

Friday, February 21, 2014

How-To Generate Ideas #11: Be in a Conductive Environment


We have very few inferior people in the world.
We have lots of inferior environments.
Try to enrich your environment” (Frank Lloyd Wright)

I wondered why I and my friends were more active, expressive and creative in the school football field or in the canteen or even behind the school corridors or during co-curricular activities than in the classroom. I know now. It’s the environment and the atmosphere that makes the difference (also partly because there was no teacher to control us).

Too serious and nonconductive environment can hinder creativity. Having fun during work or class however allows us to be more relaxed – and thus open our mind to get inspired with great ideas. A stressful or depressing environment doesn’t give us the mood to think of new ideas or doing thing differently.

Can we transfer the more relaxed atmosphere outdoors into the workplace or classroom? If can, then do it. If can’t, why not? In our office we have whiteboard to communicate, television to watch the latest news, DVD player for entertainment and video studies, boiler to make coffee, sofa to rest and take a nap, a set of carrom and playing card to play, a room to pray, a mini library for inspiration and reference, three floor stairs enough for exercise, fairly nice scenery outside office (or just look at the sky).

This kind of environment is healthy and natural. I don’t feel like I’m in the office, it feels like I’m in the playground. Good conductive environment and atmosphere gives birth to good ideas. “Try to enrich your environment.”

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

How-To Generate Ideas #10: Ask, Ask, Ask Questions

Computers are useless.
They can only give you answers” (Pablo Picasso)

Albert Einstein, the famous scientist, was once asked: “What would you do if you have 60 minutes to save the world from the collision with a large meteorite?” Einstein wittily replied, “I would spend the first 55 minutes asking questions and the last 5 minutes to find a solution.”

Asking questions is a great way to explore any problem and discover many new solution ideas. When we ask questions, we awaken our sense of curiosity – a gift that we all had since we’re born. Curiosity will breed new idea but first it must start with a right question. Vanessa Redgrave advices: “Ask the right questions if you're going to find the right answers.” Asking the right questions in a more targeted way with a good questioning process will give us a better understanding of our problem at hand and thus be able to generate more practical ideas.

5W’s and 1H (or the 5 Wishes and 1 Hope): Who, Why, What, When, Where and How questioning process is very helpful. For example, let’s say I want to create new ways to experience the Bible daily. My questions can be:

Why I have to read the Bible story only through book? How about audiobooks, songs or movies? Why not reading or listening to different versions every year? How about learning to read the Bible in other translations? How about organizing a conference where people continually reading the whole Bible nonstop until it finished? Why not make the Bible drama? Or expressing it in a group dance? When is the best time to read it? Early morning or mid-night or every tea breaks? Where? Under the bridge, in the wood, up on the tree or by the lakeside? Read to Muslims in the mosque or Hindus and Buddhists in the temple? How about listening to audiobook while stuck in the traffic jam? Since the Bible is quite a bulky book, why not tear it into each single book and carry it along anywhere you go and proceed with the new book after you finished reading it? Why not speaking the Bible instead just reading it? Why not creating a Bible when I press the words the book will make sound and read it for me?

Surprisingly, when I asked these questions to a group of people I was sometime considered a ‘rebel’ person (and laughed at). But as the Chinese proverb said: “He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.” Ask, ask, ask questions and many fresh and exciting new ideas you will get.

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

How-To Generate Ideas #9: Brainstorming Crazy Ideas

The best way to get good idea is to get a lot of ideas” (Linus Pauling)

Brainstorming is about getting as many ideas as possible from a group of people in short time. This is my favorite method. With a marker pen, whiteboard (or a mahjong paper) and imaginations – together we all can create and contribute as many ideas as possible. Ideas just flow and grow.

Dr. Yew Kam Keong in his most recommended book You Are Creative: Let Your Creativity Bloom (3rd Edition), list out four basic guidelines to follow in brainstorming:

1)    No Criticism. Criticism of any idea expressed is absolutely forbidden.

2)    No Evaluation. There should not be any evaluation of ideas during the idea generation stage. Participants are encouraged to say whatever comes into their mind without self-censorship. In fact the slogan is “The crazier, the better.”

3)    Quantity of Idea. The very essence of brainstorming is to get as many ideas as possible. Quantity is more important than quality.

4)    Cross-Fertilize. Participants are encouraged to combine or modify any of the ideas expressed to come out with new ideas. There should not be any individual ownership of any specific ideas. Instead, there should be group ownership.
During the session of brainstorming, crazy ideas are very welcome. Never be afraid to sound foolish. Only be afraid if you don’t contribute at all. Try not to think too logic. Be free to use your imagination, fantasy and visualization. Be creatively free! “Generally,” writes Dr. Yew, “crazy ideas by themselves are not useful. They are meant for triggering off innovative ideas, which are ultimately practical.” By the way, you also can do brainstorm individually. Just let your ideas flow.

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Idea-Quote #5


How-To Generate Ideas #8: Break the Rules

Alexander the Great cutting through the legend 'Gordian knot'
Rules are a great way to get ideas.
All that you have to do is break them” (Jack Foster)

Ideas are unlimited. We are the ones who limited ourselves to have more ideas. The greatest obstacle to creativity and to generate ideas, I think, is the rules that we give to ourselves and even from others. Hey, challenge the rule and break them! Just because things have always been done in a certain way does not mean that there are no other ways of doing or seeing them.

Do you know? In about 333 BC, at the city of Gordium, Turkey, there was a legend about whoever can untie the “Gordium Knot” would become the king of Asia. Alexander the Great was one of the many people who attempted to untie the knot. At first he could not find the end of the knot to unbind it, so he stepped back and said, “What does it matter how I loose it?” So he raised his sword and slashed the knot into half, producing the required ends by breaking the rules and making the prophecy come true. He literally became the king of Asia!

Creative thinkers get their great ideas when they challenge and break the obvious. Mary Lou Cook famously said: “Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” Break the rules!

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Idea-Quote #4


How-To Generate Ideas #7: Go Daydreaming

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.
We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift
(Albert Einstein)

In his book Head First!: You’re Smarter than You Think, Tony Buzan said that Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King Jr. and many other are considered true geniuses because they love to daydream. Daydreaming (or mind wandering, if you prefer that term) encourages creativity. Daydreaming is actually a great way come up with ideas – it is not a waste of time. “Daydreaming is never random”, Tony said, “The brain will daydream about future... Imagination is the source of everything. Where does pyramid come from? Imagination; where does the sphinx come from? Imagination.”

We all daydream. It’s no strange coincidence that during the time you daydream while drive along staring out the window, lying in your bed, listening to songs or playing a guitar, undertake your daily duties at work, when reading the Bible narratives, or when sitting in the toilet (my favorite place to daydream!) – many random imaginations and ideas of possibilities come to mind.

Take time to daydream. Create places to daydream. Play with it. Dream wide awake. Great ideas may just around your dreams.

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily idea(s)

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