Articles

Creative Thinking for Possibility

By Cheryl A. Rainey, PhD
“Why in today’s business culture,” you ask, “are the brightest, most experienced people resistant to change.” My answer is that it’s all in the way they think.You can change your life, your business, your project, and all your relationships, from work to home, by changing the way you think!

But, as Albert Einstein tells us, “You cannot solve a problem with the same level of thinking that created it.”Thus, you have to let go of the old ways of thinking and be open to discovery, new methods, and unexpected solutions.

When you feel stuck in your thinking, or, when you have a great idea but wonder why the other person can’t see how it could revolutionize the situation, you find yourself face to face with others’ differences. This is the same idea used in the increasingly popular Permaculture model, where the most dynamic activity happens where systems meet and butt up against each other. This leading edge doesn’t have to be a place of hostility, clashing, or conflict.

Instead, it can be enjoyable and filled with rich discovery.

Here you can encounter ingenuity, creativity, and thinking for possibility. Here differences are discovered …differences in views, opinions, people, cultures, businesses, and organizations. It’s like a DNA explosion where new models are created from combining different forms.

To get there, you must let go of the old habits and thinking patterns and enter into an
openness of mind that has you thinking for possibility. Below, are my 7 InnrSights™—
Creative Thinking for Possibility. These are tools and exercises to use all the time, or to draw on
when the need to shake up thinking makes itself clear.Whatever the situation, utilizing these
7 InnrSights can unleash bold new possibilities for you.

7 InnrSights™: Creative Thinking for Possibility!

InnrSight™ 1: Let It Flow

“One difference between novices and professionals is in the management of energy
during the process; novices tend to be at the mercy of energy,
whereas professionals are able to orchestrate the energy to suit their purpose.”
- ROBERT FRITZ

To allow your ingenuity to surface into awareness you must first prepare yourself to“Let It Flow”. True creativity and dynamic solutions surface most readily when we get out of our own way. Focusing anxiously on an unsolved problem or a looming deadline takes you out of creative flow and into“deer in the headlights”mode.

Your energy will run on tension, control, and the unhealthy version of adrenaline. In this state, creativity goes right out the door. To get “in the flow” both physically and emotionally, let go of the end result, and any feelings of desperation or urgency. In a sense, totally let go. In that state, simply trust in and open up to your inner knowing—what you already know. You’ll be amazed at how exactly the right approach or solution emerges from within this state.

InnrSight™ 2: Think Positively

“When we align ourselves with our values, we know where we need to go.
The purpose we need to fulfill becomes clear.”
- ROBERT QUINN

They say you get more bees with honey than with vinegar.Whoever “they” are, in this case, “they” are right. For creativity to flow you’ve got to Think Positively, by checking your pessimism at the door! Once you’ve clarified the overall purpose, intention, or objective, the next step is to freely brainstorm. And in order to brainstorm effectively, you have to welcome even the weirdest and wackiest ideas to the table. Oddball ideas are often quite promising.

At first glance, you might be tempted to shut out weird ideas as too“out there”. That urge reveals that instead of brainstorming, your mind is focused on“how it will work”. Brainstorming is not about how it will work. Brainstorming is about freeform riffing, bouncing off of each other, saying yes – for at least a moment – to every idea.

By being free of judgment, that wacky idea might have enough room to form into its next incarnation, an even better idea, and the perfect solution to meet your objective. But first, you have to give it a chance. Think Positively by saying YES to ideas!

InnrSight™ 3:Welcome Diversity

“…the central challenge of our time; finding a way to work together
to solve the problems we have created.”
-NELSON MANDELA

What a boring, predictable world it is when everyone and everything is the same. In business, that kind of boring is the kiss of death. In business, being the same means having no unique differentiator. To discover yours, you have to Welcome Diversity. Without diversity, differences, by definition, don’t exist! Celebrate differences, explore opposites, welcome new voices, see through new eyes. Expand the mix to open up more options for you personally, and for your business. When you use Diversity to expand options for creativity and resourcefulness you discover completely new ways to look at things, solve problems, and refine your skills.

Dr.Wayne Dyer says that when we change the way we look at things, the things change. All that, and you grow as a person, revealing your diversity, too!

InnrSight™ 4: The Outlier’s Perspective

“They [Bruhn &Wolf] had to understand the culture he or she was part of,…
they had to appreciate the idea that the values of the world we inhabit and the people
we surround ourselves with have a profound effect on who we are.”
- MALCOLM GLADWELL

 We resonate with those around us: they affect who we think we are and how we think. So, when you think you have it all figured out, turn it upside down. Listen to a viewpoint totally opposite from yours. Listen with an open heart to the voice of the person who tells you why it can or can’t be done.

By listening to and examining The Outlier’s Perspective and hearing how they view the possibilities (or lack of possibilities), you can often develop and expand the usefulness of an idea. You’ll consider new issues, concerns, and approaches, or you’ll hear criticisms and instinctively answer those criticisms with better, more highly developed versions of your idea.

InnrSight™ 5: Listen

“We are unable to talk productively about complex issues
because we are unable to listen.”
-PETER SENGE


Whether its your own ceaseless internal dialog taking sides, defending a position, or trying to be right, or your desire to do all the talking without letting the other get a word in edgewise, the end result is that you freeze up mentally, emotionally, and physically, which results in negative and dull thinking.

Instead, list all the positions of every stakeholder until you’ve added all that everyone can think of. By exploring many positions openly, and by Listening with respect, opposing ideas and conflict merely become opportunities for new and unexpected outcomes–some of which will thrill you. This is the physics of synergy synthesizing possibilities to create an even greater solution!


InnrSight™ 6: The Good of the Whole Mindset

“Together they make it possible to articulate the undiscussable issues…
They see a community in which all people are treated with justice and respect.
They envision a synergistic community in which the
collective good and individual are one.”
-ROBERT QUINN

Today’s business and management mindset is one where collaboration has taken on a more crucial role. We see this in Open Source Technologies, Internet development, and in new cross-pollinating efforts in departments and firms. To get there, you have to adopt a mindset that operates for The Good of theWhole. This is a possibility generating partnerships framework where you have more than mere workers at the table of discussion, but rather people who have contributions to make!

These are people with hearts and minds. Their creativity flows and they contribute best when they are honored as full beings in the marketplace of ideas and engagement. You can cultivate this when the ethos of your work is IWin/YouWin. ThisWin/Win mindset poses a reliable and valuable context to create an environment in which everyone benefits. For all to come together in this place, the Good of the Whole will be met.

InnrSight™ 7: It Takes Balance

“If we cannot see how what we are doing or not doing is contributing
to things being the way they are, then logically we have no basis, zero leverage,
for changing the ways things are—except from the outside, by persuasion or force.”
-ADAM KAHANE


Innovation is easily stifled when it meets with too much, or too little structure.Working at the Leading Edge of Differences calls for Balance in crafting partnership arrangements that are flexible and flowing. Opportunities are more easily recognized—and acted upon—when they don’t get bogged down in overly rigid rules or miscommunications. Be sensitive to how you affect the situation, structure, systems, and the energy of all others involved. Remember, you matter. Creativity flows when there’s a Balance in the structure, energy, and methods of your partnership arrangements.

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Suggested Readings:
Change the World : How Ordinary People Can Achieve Extraordinary Results by Robert Quinn

Creating: A practical guide to the creative process and how to use it to create anything – a work of art, a relationship, a career or a better life – by Robert Fritz

Energy Leadership: Transforming Your Workplace and Your Life from the Core by Bruce D. Schneider

Solving Tough Problems: An Open Way of Talking, Listening, and Creating New Realities by Adam Kahane

The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done by Peter F. Drucker

The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization by Peter Senge