Overcome your Creative Block


Two groups of engineering students were assigned a similar quest – to design a bicycle rack for a car.  The first group was shown an awfully designed roof rack for bicycles.  They viewed all the issues with the current design and then started working on it to come out with something superior. The second group was not shown the ineffective roof rack; they were simply told to design a really good bicycle rack.  The second group came up with much more unique and effective designs.  The first group focused on the problems with the existing design which compelled them to restrict themselves to their habitual thinking style.
The study was carried out by researchers David Jansson and Steven Smith and is mentioned in David Niven’s book, It’s Not About the Shark.  The title of the book refers to the problem which the then unknown director Steven Spielberg had in 1974 while shooting Jaws.  The movie script involved many scenes showing a monster shark but the mechanical model shark they used had recurring technical faults and kept failing. The movie was running well behind schedule and ahead of budget. The problem was the shark which just would not work. Spielberg shifted outside his comfort zone and did some lateral thinking.  He removed the shark from all the initial scenes and inferred its presence with the brilliant musical theme written by John Williams.  Moviegoers found that what they imagined beneath the water was remarkably frightening.  Critics and audiences raved about the film which kick-started Spielberg’s rise to stardom.
When we are confronted with a problem we tend to focus all our efforts on the features of the problem rather looking at the entire situation and the opportunities it offers. We struggle to find new ways to solve the problem because we allow ourselves to be constrained to a certain way of thinking. Focusing on the problem limits our possibilities for conceiving more radical ideas.
When Travis Kalanick could not get a taxi in Paris in 2009 he thought about the issue.  Most of us would have asked, ‘How can we get more taxis?’  He ignored the taxi shortage, looked at the bigger picture and asked a different question. ‘What if we could harness the capacity of all the drivers in Paris who would give me a lift for payment?’  He founded Uber.

Every problem is an opportunity for innovation. It distinguishes people who innovate from those who imitate. Don’t get sucked into the detail of the problem. To have a unique style of thinking, follow the steps of Edward De Bono's Lateral Thinking and bypass the problem altogether.


You can attend our lateral thinking workshop held in 3 major cities and build an ability to think out of the box. TO BOOK A SEAT for this lateral thinking workshop, click here  genesiseventsindia.in/lateral_thinking/.

For any further details or any queries, call us at 011-41080000 | 41629369.  

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