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Developing the Creative Craft XIV

Number fourteen in a series – number thirteen is here.

The Discontinuity Principle

The more you are used to something, the less stimulating it is for our thinking.

When you disrupt your thought patterns, those ideas that create the greatest stimulus to our thinking do so because they force us to make new connections in order to comprehend the situation. Roger van Oech calls this a "Whack on the Side of the Head", and Edward de Bono coined a new word, PO, which stands for "Provocative Operation".

Try programming interruptions into your day. Change working hours, get to work a different way, listen to a different radio station, read some magazines or books you wouldn't normally read, try a different recipe, watch a TV program or film you wouldn't normally watch.

Provocative ideas are often stepping stones that get us thinking about other ideas.

Abutting ideas next to each other, such that their friction creates new thought-paths a technique that flourishes in the east (haiku poetry and Zen koans) but causes discomfort in Western thinking.


Alex Osborn in his pioneering book Applied Imagination talks about "Questions as spurs to ideation", and outlines about 75 idea-spurring questions in his book.

The simplest set of questions comes from the six basic questions described in the Ask Questions section of the Creativity Web.

     1.Why is it necessary?
     2.Where should it be done?
     3.When should it be done?
     4.Who should do it?
     5.What should be done?
     6.How should it be done?

The What other uses? is a good question for by adding uses we can often add value. By piling up alternatives by way of other uses, a still better use is likely to come to light.

Osborn went on with the following questions:


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