Cruising to Aha!
Up-Tempo Creative Solutions for the Busy Business Leader
“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulder of giants.”
—Sir Isaac Newton
That moment, when you’re wrestling with a problem, and the light bulb finally clicks on. This is your Aha! Moment. Cruising to Aha! is a method based on scientific research that will enable you to solve problems faster, by teaching you how to tap into your own creative reserves. It will get you to that Aha! state faster and more frequently than you ever thought possible.
In the early 90s, after having consulted in Creative Thinking for a few years, I attended a lecture that radically changed my view about the creative process. I learned from Dr. Robert Weisberg, a professor of experimental psychology at Temple University, that human creativity is really a form of evolution. My partner, Peter Lloyd, and I then studied Darwin’s work and subsequently through our own consulting and research figured out how to dramatically speed the process up. We have shortened the time, manpower, expense and conscious effort required to generate exciting, viable, implementable solutions to difficult and urgent business problems.
Leaders who employ this method resolve their immediate challenges faster without sacrificing the conscious time and effort needed to focus on the other day-to-day activities and fun that are important in their business and personal lives. If your interest is piqued, read the following brief summary of our new process. The full version will be published as two separate entries this fall (2019) in The International Journal of Creativity and Human Development.
How do we teach today’s leaders to think with creative success more quickly?
We use Charles Darwin’s three-step process as articulated in his 1859 book On the Origin of Species:
Step 1. Extinction
Step 2. Mutation
Step 3. Selection
Step 1. Extinction
Here we must guarantee ourselves that the old ideas don’t work before we can truly be opened to new input and thoughts. We will find these stimuli by looking in unusual places, ones that on the surface, have no association with our problems. If we look in new places before we are sure the old places are no good, we will be unable connect what we see with a brilliant insight, even though it is staring us in the face. The wonderful French saying, “Great ideas come in shabby clothing,” applies here.
Our extinction process may be expedited by purposely concentrating on negative thoughts and ideas that we’ve considered but don’t work. Focus your mind on ideas that really stink! Heap as much abuse on them as you can. Summarize them in one sentence, and then condense them into one word — what’s bad about them?
(Note: there are other techniques here, but try this first.)
Step 2. Mutation
Once we have convinced ourselves that no tweaking of the old ideas will work, we must look to where and how we capture a new exciting idea from an unusual place. A source without prior connection.
A landmark study was conducted years ago at Harvard that tackled this tough question. We know that insight comes in a flash most times when our conscious mind is not focused on the issue. Even though it occurs and is over in a split second, a group of people reported the same series of mental events during the inspirational moment.
What can we take from this study?
The initial image must be specific.
It contains a form of problem solving, i.e. an action and a result of the action.
It evokes an emotional response.
There is a relationship between the initial image and the summary statement or one word developed at the end of the extinction phase.
Peter Lloyd and I have chosen the world of biomimicry — (using the brilliance of animals to resolve human issues) as one of the possible arenas in which to initiate a mutation phase. We have designed an algorithm to help our clients focus on the correct group of animals that cope successfully with the one-word or one-sentence that ends the Extinction Phase.
Step 3. Selection
Your ability to convert exciting ideas into viable, implementable solutions determines the ultimate success of any problem solving effort. We have developed a system for treating new ideas that virtually guarantees successful execution. We call it our Idea Management Process.
We ask our clients to evaluate the idea in two parts. The first we call The Search for Utility. Here we have six different prompts to find all the potential positive aspects the idea will bring forth. These aspects, when unearthed, will help us again to shift our perspective and modify our solution.
Finally, in the second part we do a search for what’s wrong or possibly can go wrong. We look at these as challenges rather than as negatives. This attitude will help us insure the idea will work.
To see this process in full detail, go to our two articles, Extinction: A Power Tool to Source New Ideas and The Kinetics of Inspiration: Accelerating Your Personal Creative Process to Solve Persistent Important Problems, which were just published in the academic journal Creativity & Human Development. You can see everything by signing up as an individual, which will cost you nothing.
To see who we are, go to our bios.