"It’s a myth that creativity cannot be learned, and that you are either born creative or you are not. Creativity is not genetically determined." ~ Michael Michalko
Michael Michalko Creative Thinking Techniques
Creative thinking with Michael Michalko the author of 'Cracking Creativity', 'Thinkertoys', and 'Thinkpak'
Michael Michalko is one of America's foremost creativity experts. Author of the hugely popular books, Thinkertoys, Cracking Creativity, and Thinkpak, Michael Michalko is in demand as a speaker and consultant to companies and schools eager to increase and promote innovation.
One of Michael Michalko's fundamental ideas is that most people are taught to think reproductively whereas to be creative you need to think productively. He explains that reproductive thinking is where you reproduce ideas and solutions that have worked in the past. But productive thinking is creative because you try to generate as many new solutions to a problem or challenge as you can.
Asked for the basic secrets to creative thinking genius, Michael Michalko offers two great concepts that you can practice to unleash your inner genius for creativity.
1. Constantly try to improve your ideas and products.
2. Challenge your assumptions.
He cites the example of Thomas Edison who believed that all ideas were manipulations and extensions of previous ideas, and to that end, Michael Michalko teachers the SCAMPER creative thinking technique as a great way to manipulate and transform existing ideas into newer, better ideas.
Here is Michael Michalko's teaching on SCAMPER:
Think about any subject from improving the paperclip to reorganizing your corporation. You’ll find that ideas start popping up almost involuntarily, as you ask if you can: S = Substitute something? C = Combine your subject with something else? A = Adapt something to your subject? M = Magnify or modify — add to it or change it in some fashion? P = Put it to some other use? E = Eliminate something from it? R = Rearrange or reverse it?
Michalko says that the biggest thing holding most people back from being creative is the belief that people are born creative geniuses. He is fond of using Edison as an example of someone who didn't have much schooling, but nevertheless learned to use his mind in a truly creative and productive way. Michael Michalko says that we can all learn to be immensely creative, and that it is just a matter of learning some creative thinking techniques and disciplining our minds to practice creative habits.
'Mind Popping' with Michael Michalko
'Mind popping' is a term Michael Michalko uses to describe those ideas that just pop into your mind when you are least expecting it. According to Michalko one of the keys to becoming extraordinarily creative is to make sure you record all your ideas and thoughts. By doing this he says you build up a rich internal network of ideas that your mind uses and plays with even when you are asleep. This collection of ideas and neural pathways becomes richer and richer, so that your mind has more material to draw upon for creative innovation. You can be given a creative problem and think about it and fovus upon it for a while -- and then leave it and go and do something else and then all of a sudden, a day or so later, an idea 'pops' into your mind!
Michael Michalko offers this technique for deliberately cultivating mind popping creativity:
Write a letter to your unconscious about a problem. Make the letter as detailed as possible. Describe the problem, what steps you have taken, the gaps, what is needed, what the obstacles are, the ideal solution and so on.
Instruct your subconscious to find the solution. Write, "Your mission is to find the solution to the problem. I would like the solution in two days." Seal the letter and put it away. Forget it. Open the letter in two days. If the problem still has not been solved, write on the bottom of the letter, "Let me know the minute you solve this." Sooner or later, when you are most relaxed and removed, ideas and solutions will pop up from your unconscious.
Michael Michalko's best selling books on creativity and really well written and are a mine of valuable information on thinking creatively. I have written a review of Thinkertoys that you can read. I believe Michael Michalko's books to be essential reading for enhancing your creativity.