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How do you stay away from idea killers?

School of Creative Thinking-Article How to stay away from idea killers

Again I heard the sound of the thunder. And again I started grumbling under my breath. I recalled what I just had said and realized that some things are easier said than done.

During my first training in creative thinking – many years ago – I learned that it is important to postpone your judgment in order to come up with something new. Judgment sets limits. It is limited and restrictive. That’s good when you’re in traffic. But if you want to think of something new, a judgment works like a killer. Nothing is easier than to kill an idea by judging immediately. During the course I also learned that you can defer your judgment by, for example, stopping to use the words ‘yes, but’ in response to an idea. Well, that seemed pretty simple to me. How about you?

Maybe it’s good to check with yourself how often you use ‘yes, but’. Or to ask someone else. It turned out that ‘yes,but’ was my emotional start-up in a conversation. Two words with which I thought I was responding in an elegant -rather modest- way. Until I learned what these two words do with the options others are putting forward. Then I knew it was not an elegant way at all. I was turning my reaction into a real ‘idea killer’.

Since ‘yes, but’ had been my emotional start-up for years, it was not easy to stop using it. Fortunately, my colleague Branko Broekman was there to help. He developed an ‘app’ that gave a thundering sound each time when hearing ‘yes, but’. Not a real app in the App Store. But a very useful tool to make me aware of my choice of words. And fortunately, the ‘app’ was off now and then.

Changing your attitude on your own is often difficult. Ask someone else to help you. That makes it not only easier, it gives also more fun. Branko and I still laugh at the sound of the thunder. And sometimes, not very often, the ‘app’ turns on again. Because ideas killers are lying in wait.

Other ways to stay away from idea killers? Try:

  • keeping quiet
  • shutting up
  • letting it rest
  • expanding on it
  • being open-minded
  • striving for a win/win
  • posing clarifying “why” questions
  • focusing on possibilities & solutions
  • actively thinking along with others
  • thinking in options
  • adopting a positive attitude
  • creating multiple options
  • pursuing the energy
  • following one’s intuition
  • changing perspectives
  • putting yourself in the other’s shoes
  • using De Bono’s thinking hats
  • ………….

Conny van der Wouw
Trainer at the School of Creative Thinking