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« Provocative thinking »



This technique forces connections between dissimilar ideas, beliefs or structures and thus creates new creative potentials. Provocative thinking uses questions, analogy and metaphor to create a new informational mix to arrive at new connections. It leads to the kind of disruptive thinking encouraged by Dr. Edward de Bono's "PO" (Provocative Operation) theories.

The creative thinking process often requires the fusion of seeming opposites ( like fun and work) and we therefore need to be comfortable with complexity and contradiction. Creativity also requires the mobilization of both brain hemispheres in a free-flow state of awareness. Without analyzing results, creativity makes silly connections, "out there" partnerships, disruptive associations and utopian links. Provocative thinking does this on purpose.

Questions are the tools that will lead us to great ideas. For example - when a little ol' winemaker had a problem with a sore back and the answers he got to his questions led him to a hospital's therapeutic whirlpool, he found out all he could about that set up and then questioned his assumptions. And that led to his transforming a wine barrel into a "Hot Tub" and inventing the fun new product that launched the entire home spa industry.

Provocative triggers

Prepare a list of 20 general questions that relate to your business or your problematic preoccupations and use them to force connections between different ideas. Ex: What would happen if we changed the shape (design, color, size, etc,)? How can we get rid of it? Why is the opposite of what we are doing better? What if we change the ingredients? Why not switch markets? What if we had it made locally? What if we sell the recipe? Why don't we try and give it away? What if others distribute it? Why can't we double production? Etc. etc..


Identify a situation and write it down. Next, gather information about an ideal answer, a perfect solution or an alternative from a variety of sources. Then mix the information you already have with the new input. Provoke new connections by questioning your assumptions with that prepared list.

Provocative triggers stimulate creativity by adding new possibilities, tangent ideas and daring concepts to existing data and then you force a fit. To provoke innovative links, keep questioning the mix of ideas and use the answers to transform the information into the outlandishly different. Then start wondering how the outlandish could be better than the status quo. And finally test your assumptions with a series of « why-nots ».

Creative ideas make logical sense AFTER they've been discovered, introduced, accepted. They are so illogical as to not exist BEFORE the connections are provoked into existence.

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