I was flicking through a book (I know, how old school) by Eric Knight called ‘Reframe’ and enjoyed reading about a classic psychological test. Created in the 1930’s by Karl Duncker, the test features a box of wall tacks, a candle and box of matches sitting on a table. The task? How to fix the lit candle to the wall so wax doesn’t fall on the table. My first thought was to fix the candle to the wall under the table. It turns out, the correct answer is to tip the wall tacks from the box and place the candle inside, pinned to the wall so wax catches in the box. Clever.
The test reveals the benefits of looking at problems differently.
There’s an interesting application of this test and that’s to see what happens when you add a financial incentive. It turns out, having a financial incentive led to poorer results. Hello, Wall Street cash bonuses culture. Money is a disincentive to creative thinking.
So how can creativity be encouraged as attention spans shorten?
1. Give Yourself Time To Allow Your Mind to Wander – I know it sounds indulgent in these busy times. But allowing your mind to join new dots is an important part of the creative process.
2. Understand that most problems have several solutions – don’t stop at your first creative answer. Keep on searching for other ideas.
3. Allow cross fertilization of ideas – ever noticed you have great ideas in the shower? You’re focused on one task, allowing your brain to free up for other ideas. Visit a museum or art gallery and see how it unleashes your creativity.
4. See Problems as an Opportunity rather than a Challenge – you’ve already shifted your mindset by reframing your creativity challenge. Turn negatives into positives and see how your brain responds.
Reframing could be your key to new insights.
Photo Credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1228814