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Generating Solutions. Chapter 8. Chapter Objectives. Learn: The common causes of mental blocks. To identify and define 6 types of mental blocks. How to break through mental roadblocks. How to use brainstorming as a tool. The 4 methods to break mental blocks while brainstorming.

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Chapter Objectives

  • Learn:

    • The common causes of mental blocks.

    • To identify and define 6 types of mental blocks.

    • How to break through mental roadblocks.

    • How to use brainstorming as a tool.

    • The 4 methods to break mental blocks while brainstorming.

    • How to create a fishbone diagram from brainstorming information.

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Common Causes of Mental Blocks

  • Some common causes of mental blocks include:

    • Defining problem too narrowly.

    • Attacking symptoms, not real problems, assuming there is one right answer.

    • Getting “hooked” on the first solution that comes to mind.

    • Becoming “hooked” on a solution that almost works, but really does not.

    • Being distracted by irrelevant information, called “mental dazzle”.

    • Getting frustrated by lack of success.

    • Being too anxious to finish.

    • Defining the problem ambiguously.

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Types of Mental Blocks

  • There are 6 types of mental blocks:

    • Perceptual

    • Emotional

    • Cultural

    • Environmental

    • Intellectual

    • Expressive

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Perceptual Blocks

  • Definition:

    • Obstacles that prevent the problem solver from clearly perceiving either the problem or the information needed to solve it.

  • Types of perceptual blocks:

    • Stereotyping

    • Limiting the problem unnecessarily

    • Saturation or information overload

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Emotional Blocks

  • An emotional block decreases the amount of freedom with which you explore and manipulate ideas, and interferes with your ability to conceptualize fluently and flexibly.

  • Types of emotional blocks:

    • Fear of risk taking

    • Lack of appetite for chaos

    • Judging rather than generating ideas

    • Lack of challenge

    • Inability to incubate

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Cultural Blocks

  • Cultural blocks are acquired by exposure to a given set of cultural patterns.

  • These blocks can arise when activities do not fall into the norm of certain members in a specific society.

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Environmental Blocks

  • Blocks imposed by our immediate social and physical environment.

    • Examples include:

      • Distractions by phones, pagers, etc. can break an individuals concentration.

      • Working in conditions absent of emotional, physical, economical, or organizational support can have a negative impact on the problem solver.

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Intellectual Blocks

  • Intellectual blocks can be caused by:

    • Inflexible or inadequate problem solving strategies.

    • Lack of intellectual skills.

    • Lack of information to solve the problem.

  • To break these blocks

    • Obtain additional training, background or resources.

    • Ask for help!

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Expressive Blocks

  • Expressive blocks can occur when you have difficulty communicating your ideas to others, either verbally or written.

    • Examples include:

      • Playing charades.

      • Playing a group game to identify a drawn picture.

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  • There are several methods to break mental blocks. Consider the following problems and solutions:

    • Negative attitude, correct with attitude adjustment

    • Fear of failure, correct with risk taking

    • Following the rules, correct with breaking the rules

    • Over-reliance on logic, correct with an internal creative climate

    • “You aren’t creative”, correct with creative beliefs

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Improve Your Creativeness

The ways to improve your creative abilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Tracking your ideas at all times.

  • Posing new questions to yourself every day.

  • Learning about things outside your specialty.

  • Avoiding rigid, set patterns for doing things.

  • Being open and receptive to ideas.

  • Being alert.

  • Adopting a risk taking attitude.

  • Keeping your sense of humor.

  • Having courage and self-confidence.

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  • Brainstorming creates an environment:

    • Where unstructured free association can occur to generate ideas.

    • Individuals can build ideas upon other individual ideas.

    • Where a positive attitude reigns.

  • The greater number of ideas generated, the better chance an innovative, workable solution will be identified.

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  • Inappropriate comments during brainstorming can lead to brain-drizzling. These comments may include:

    • “That won’t work”

    • “It’s not our job”

    • “That’s too much hassle”

    • “We haven’t done it that way before”

    • “We can’t solve this problem”

    • “That’s too expensive”

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Osborn’s Checklist

  • Osborn’s checklist helps groups build on ideas by asking:

    • Adapt? … How else could this be adapted?

    • Modify? … Can anything be modified with meaning, color, etc.?

    • Minify? … Can this be split, reduced, made lighter, etc.?

    • Substitute? … Who else, where else, what else?

    • Rearrange? … Can parts be interchanged, use other layouts, etc.?

    • Combine? … Combine parts, units, ideas?

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Random Stimulation

  • Random stimulation makes use of a random word or piece of information to act as a trigger to stimulate thought patterns in the event of a roadblock.

  • The goal of the pattern change is to allow the problem to be viewed from new perspectives not previously considered.

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Other People’s Views

  • This process allows individuals to understand the problem while using another person’s perspective of the situation.

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  • Futuring focuses on identifying solution that may not be currently technically feasible but could be in the future.

  • The rules of futuring:

    • Try to imaging the ideal solution without regard to whether or not it is technically feasible.

    • Make statements such as: “If (this) _______ happened, it would completely change the way I do business.”

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Fishbone Diagram

  • A fishbone diagram is an organized graphical representation of ideas generated from brainstorming.

  • To use a fishbone diagram:

    • Write the real problem at the head of the fish.

    • Brainstorm potential solutions to the problem.

    • Categorize the solutions into larger groups.

    • Place the grouped solutions on the bones of the fish.

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  • When you need to brainstorm, but don’t have at least one more person available, consider brainwriting.

  • It uses the same principles of brainstorming, but you do it alone.

    • Use free association

    • Walk through Osborn’s checklist

    • Use random stimulation

    • Perform futuring

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Cross-Fertilization and Analogy

  • Cross-fertilization is used to transfer ideas and analogies from other disciplines to the discipline of your problem.

  • The idea is to draw on the experiences from other areas to determine how those situations may lead to a possible solutions.

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  • Incubation provides a period of time when you can move from actively analyzing your ideas to allowing your subconscious to continue the work.

  • If your problem does not require an immediate solution, take some time away from it and use incubation to help you through the solution process.

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  • Mental blocks can impair our ability to generate solutions.

  • There are several types of mental blocks.

  • Mental blocks can be broken with various techniques.

  • Individuals can increase their creative abilities through several activities.

  • Brainstorming is a group activity to free associate ideas into solutions.

  • Brainwriting is brainstorming for one individual.

  • Using ideas from unrelated disciplines can cross-fertilize ideas and identify analogies.