Posts Tagged ‘creative thinking’

CHANGE THE WAY YOU LOOK AT THINGS AND THE THINGS YOU LOOK AT CHANGE

Michael Michalko’s creative thinking techniques give you the extraordinary ability to focus on information in a different way and different ways to interpret what you are focusing on.

Below is an illustration of irregular black and white shapes:

jesus-2

Concentrate on the four small dots in the vertical row in the middle of the picture for at least 30 seconds.

Then close your eyes and tilt your head back. Keep them closed. Eventually, you will see a circle of light. 

Continue looking at the circle. What do you see? Amazing isn’t it?

By focusing your attention in a different way (focusing on the dots and closing your eyes), you changed your perception of the pattern thereby allowing yourself to see something that you could not otherwise see.

Similarly,  Michael Michalko’s creative thinking techniques change the way you think by focusing your attention in different ways and giving you different ways to interpret what you focus on. The techniques will enable you to look at the same information as everyone else and see something different.

Michael Michalko. Creativity consists of seeing what no one else is seeing, to think what no one else is thinking, and doing what others had wish they had done. Become creative.  http://creativethinking.net/#sthash.SXV5T2cu.dpbs

 

The Lessons I Learned from Nikola Tesla and my Grandfather that Influenced my Life

 

tesla

Consider what Nikola Tesla accomplished with his mind’s eye. He is the man who invented the modern world. He was a physicist first, and electrical engineer and mechanical engineer later. Tesla invented the AC electricity, electric car, radio, the bladeless turbine, wireless communication, fluorescent lighting, the induction motor, a telephone repeater, the rotating magnetic field principle, the poly-phase alternating current system, alternating current power transmission, Tesla Coil transformer, and more than 700 other patents.

At an early age Tesla created an imaginary world where he pretended to reside. In his autobiography “My Inventions,” Tesla described: Every night and sometimes during the day, when alone, I would start out on my journeys, see new places, cities and countries, live there, meet with people, make friendships and acquaintances and, however unbelievably it is a fact that they were just as dear to me as those in actual life and not a bit less intense in their manifestations. He used to practice this kind of mind-journey constantly until he was about seventeen, at which age he began creating inventions for the modern world.

When he became an adult, he would imagine himself in the future and observe what devices and machines they had. Tesla imagined himself to be a time traveler. He would note how they created energy, how they communicated, and lived.  He could picture them all as if they were real in his imaginary mind. He would conduct imaginary experiments and collect data. He described that he needed no models, drawings or experiments in a physical place.

When he attained an idea for a new machine, he would create the machine in his imagination. Instead of building a model or prototype, he would conceive a detailed mental model. Then he would leave it running in his imagination. His mental capacity was so high that after a period of time he would calculate the wear and tear of the different parts of his imaginary machine. Always his results would prove to be incredibly accurate.

Tesla believed he was the greatest genius on earth and acted the part every day. He refused to share the Noble prize with Thomas Edison in 1915 because he considered Edison unworthy of sharing a stage with him. He also vowed he would never accept the prize if they awarded it to Edison before him. Consequently, neither received the prize.

Nicola Tesla taught me the value of being self-confident. A self-confident attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, then failure, then successes, then what other people think or say or do.

Many years ago I met my grandfather Dido by chance as he was walking home from work. He had a rough day. His car conked out and he was not able to repair it. The auto shop picked it up and he was told it was going to be an expensive repair. Earlier in the day his best friend had a massive heart attack and was in serious condition in the hospital. Additionally, he was told his work hours were being cut back because of the lack of orders. He told me all this and then he walked in stony silence the rest of the way.

On arriving, he invited me in. As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, closed his eyes and touched the tips of the branches with both hands. After opening the door, he underwent an amazing transformation. His tanned face was wreathed in smiles and he hugged my grandmother and gave her a big kiss. Afterward, I asked him why he had stopped at the tree and touched the branches. “Oh,” he laughed, “that’s my trouble tree,” he replied. “I know I can’t help having troubles, but one thing for sure, troubles don’t belong in my house with my wife and family. So I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home. Then in the morning, I pick them up again.” “Funny thing is,” he smiled, “when I come out in the morning to pick them up, there aren’t nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before.”

My grandfather taught me that we cannot change the inevitable, but the remarkable thing is that if we have the right attitude we have a choice how we handle it.

 

(Michael Michalko is the highly-acclaimed author of Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative Thinking Techniques; Cracking Creativity: The Thinking Strategies of Creative Geniuses;  Thinkpak: A Brainstorming Card Deck, and Creative Thinkering: Putting Your Imagination to Work. http://www.creativethinking.net)

 

 

 

Think Like a Dog

thinking-dog

An enlightening experiment was done by Gestalt psychologists with a group of dogs. The dogs were trained to approach something when shown a white square and avoid it when shown a gray square. When the dogs learned this, the experimenters switched to using a gray square and a black square. The dogs immediately shifted to approaching the object when shown the gray square (which had previously triggered avoidance) and avoiding the object when shown the black square (which had not previously been associated with an action). Presumably, rather than perceiving the gray, white, and black as an absolute stimuli, the dogs were responding to a deeper essence—lighter versus darker.

Many of us have lost the raw sensitivity to essences because we have been educated to focus on the particulars of experience as opposed to the universals. For example, suppose we were asked to design a new can opener. Most of our ideas would be driven by our experience and association with the particulars of can openers we’ve used, and we would likely design something that is only marginally different from existing can openers.

If we determine the essence of a can opener to be opening things, however, and look for clues in the world around us, we increase our chances of discovering a novel idea. Think for a moment about how things open. Some examples are:

  • Valves open by steam.
  • Oysters open by relaxing a muscle.
  • Pea pods open when ripening weakens the seam.
  • Doors open with keys.
  • A fish’s mouth opens when squeezed at the base.
  • A car’s accelerator opens when a pedal is pushed.

Our raw creativity allows us to make thousands of indirect associations, some of which may lead to an original, novel idea. For example, you can take the pea pod and work it into a new way of opening a can. Instead of creating a can opener, design the can with a weak seam that opens the can when pulled (inspired by way pea pods open when its seam is weakened. This novel idea results from thinking about and approaching the problem ina different way than you’ve been taught.

Creative people in the arts, sciences, and industry often use this thinking strategy. Fred Smith, founder of Federal Express, said people in the transportation of goods business never really understood why and how he became so successful. He became successful, he said, because he understood the essence of the business, which is peace of mind, and not just transportation of goods. Grasping this essence, he was the first to make it possible for customers to track packages right from their desktops

Martin Skalski, director of the transportation design sequence at Pratt Institute, teaches his students to tackle problems in terms of essences. For example, he doesn’t tell students to design an automobile or study various automobile designs on the market. Instead, he begins the design process by having them create abstract compositions of things in motion. Then by progressively making the process less abstract, he eventually has them working on the real problem—designing forms of transportation—by creating connections between the abstract work and the final model.

World-renowned architect and designer Arthur Erickson also uses this thinking  with his students to help them avoid visual and functional preconceptions and to unlock creativity. For example, if he is looking for a new chair design, he will first ask his students to draw a picture of a figure in motion. Then he will ask them to build a wood, plastic, metal, or paper model of a structure that supports that figure in motion. Finally, he will have them use the model as the basis for a new chair design.

Erickson teaches his students the importance of finding the essence of designing furniture. As he puts it, “If I had said to the students, ‘Look, we’re going to design a chair or bed,’ they would have explored the design on the basis of previous memories of chairs or beds. But by approaching the model from the essential direction, I was able to make them realize the vital essence of furniture.”

In one group exercise, Erickson had his assistants generate a list of how to store things, a list of how to stack things, and a list of how to organize large objects. Then he gave his assistants the real problem, which was to design a parking garage using the ideas and thoughts from the three different lists.

The mind gets into ruts very quickly, particularly when it stalls and spins its wheels. It gets mired in the details of some perception. Charles Darwin asked the grand question “What is life?” instead of getting mired down classifying the mite or fungus. Getting right to the essence of the problem creates space between thoughts sunken into each other. It forces you to test assumptions and explore possibilities.

Suppose you want to improve the design of the umbrella. The essence of an umbrella is protection from the rain. When you examine the essence, you are likely to explore more creative possibilities for rain protection, such as a new kind of raincoat or even a new type of town design where there are arcades everywhere and umbrellas are no longer required. Or, consider the bookstore owner who viewed himself as a seller of books—a very specific idea. The trend toward the electronic media put him out of business. However, if he had viewed himself as a “provider of information and entertainment”—a more abstract and general characterization—the switch toward electronic media would not have been threatening; it would have opened up new opportunities.

BLUEPRINT

  1. First, describe the problem and determine its essence. Ask the group, “What is the principle of the problem?” Example: Our problem is how to protect rural designer mailboxes from theft and vandalism. The essence is “protection.”
  2. Ask the group to generate ideas on how to protect things. Give the group an idea quota of thirty or more ideas. Don’t mention the real problem, which is how to protect rural mailboxes.

Examples:

  • Place in a bank.
  • Rustproof, to protect from weather damage..
  • Provide good maintenance.
  • Get an insurance policy.
  • Put a chip in it so you can track its whereabouts.
  • Protect it with an armed guard.
  1. After you’ve generated a number of different ideas, restate the problem for the group so that it is slightly less abstract. For example, think of ways to protect things that are outside and vulnerable. Again, generate as many solutions as you can.

Examples:

  • Hire a guard.
  • Watch it constantly.
  • Drape it with camouflage.
  • Put a fence around it.
  • Keep it well lighted.
  • Install an alarm system.
  1. Finally, address the group with the real problem. Review and discuss the ideas and solutions to the two previous abstractions and use these as stimuli to generate solutions. Example: The real problem is how to protect rural mailboxes from theft and vandalism. The idea triggered from “get an insurance policy” is to offer an insurance policy to owners of rural mailboxes: $5 a year or $10 for three years to cover the mailbox from theft or destruction.

Scientists at Gillette wanted to develop a new toothbrush. They decided that the essence of a toothbrush is “cleaning.” Among the things studied were:

  • How are cars cleaned?
  • How is hair cleaned?
  • How are clothes cleaned?
  • How are arteries cleaned?
  • How are waterways cleaned?

They got excited when they studied car washes. Cars are washed and cleaned in a car wash. Car washes use multiple soaping and brushing actions in different directions. They incorporated the principle of multiple brushes brushing in different directions into the toothbrush known as the Oral B, which is the leading selling toothbrush in the world.

When creating ideas think of essences, principles and universals. Think abstractly.

(Michael Michalko is the author of Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative Thinking Techniques; Cracking Creativity: The Thinking Strategies of Creative Geniuses;  Thinkpak: A Brainstorming Card Deck, and Creative Thinkering: Putting Your Imagination to Work. http://www.creativethinking.net)

What You Can Learn About Creative Thinking from Vincent Van Gogh and the Wright Brothers

VANGOGH4.

What would you think of someone who said, “I would like to have a cat provided it barked”?

The common desire to achieve or create great things provided it’s something that can be easily willed or wished is precisely equivalent. The principles of behavior that lead to great accomplishments are no less rigid than the biological principles that determine the characteristics of cats. Consider, for example, the life of Vincent Willem van Gogh.

He is generally considered to be one of history’s greatest artists and had a far-reaching influence on 20th-century art. His artistic accomplishments are not an accident, not a result of some easily magic trick or secret, but a consequence of his nature to work persistently on his art every day. He revered “the doing” in art. He wrote about his hard work many times to his brother Theo. In a letter he sent Theo in 1885 he stated that one can only improve by working on your art, and many people are more remarkably clever and talented than him, but what use is it if they do not work at it.

He did not begin painting until his late twenties, completing many of his best-known works during the last two years of his life. In the first years of his career, van Gogh displayed no natural talent. David Sweetman’s biography “Van Gogh: His Life and His Art” gives a detailed description of his intention to be an artist and his insatiable capacity for hard work to become one. He turned himself into an artist by acting like an artist and going through the motions by turning out mostly bad innumerable rough sketches, day and night. In Van Gogh’s own words he said, “In spite of everything I shall rise again and take up my pencil and draw and draw.”

He received mild encouragement from his cousin, Anton Mauve, who supplied him with his first set of watercolors. Mauve was a successful artist and gave Vincent some basic instructions in painting. Their relationship was short-lived, however, as Vincent was incapable of receiving criticism of his art from Mauve. Mauve even went to Vincent’s father and told him it would be better for Vincent to stop attempting to be an artist and find another occupation that better suited his talent. It was then that Vincent unveiled what art critics label as his first “masterpiece,” The Potato Eaters.

VANGOGH3

He turned himself into an artist by acting like an artist and going through the motions by turning out mostly bad innumerable rough sketches, day and night.

Lesson #1 Stop waiting and Take Action

The lesson about creative thinking I learned from Van Gogh is action. Just do it. Stop waiting and start working toward what you want. What we think, or what we know, or what we believe something is, in the end, of no consequence. The only consequence is what we actually do. In Van Gogh’s own words “Just slap anything on when you see a blank canvas staring you in the face like some imbecile. You don’t know how paralyzing that is, that stare of a blank canvas is, which says to the painter, “You can’t do a thing.” The canvas has an idiotic stare and mesmerizes some painters so much that they turn into idiots themselves. Many painters are afraid in front of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas is afraid of the real, passionate painter who dares and who has broken the spell of ‘you can’t’ once and for all by getting to work and painting.”

It was very difficult at times, but he believed nobody can do as he wishes in the beginning when you start but everything will be all right in the end. Each day he made every effort to improve because he knew making beautiful paintings meant painstaking work, disappointment and perseverance. In the end, Van Gogh produced 2000 works of art between 1880 and 1890 (1100 paintings and 900 sketches). That’s 4 works of art a week for a decade, and he didn’t start making art until his mid twenties.

LESSON #2 Commit and Go through the motions

Van Gogh taught me to commit myself to a desire and go through the motions of working toward accomplishing it. His advice was if you do nothing, you are nothing. You must keep working and keep working come what may. Even when your final goal is not clear, the goal will become clearer and will emerge slowly but surely, much as the rough drawing turns into a sketch, and the sketch into a painting through the serious work done on it and through the elaboration of the original vague idea and through the consolidation of your fleeting and passing thoughts on it as you work.

Think of the first airplane. On December 8, 1903, Samuel Pierpont Langley, a leading government-funded scientist, launched with much fanfare his flying machine on the Potomac. It plummeted into the river. Nine days later, Orville and Wilbur got the first plane off the ground. Why did these bicycle mechanics succeed when a famous scientist failed? It was because Langley did the mental work and hired other people to build and execute his intellectual design for him.

vangogh5

Lesson #3 Do your own work.

The Wright brothers did their own work. When they were working and producing creative ideas and products they were replenishing neurotransmitters which are linked to genes that are being turned on and turned off in response to what the brain is doing, which in turn is responding to challenges. When they constantly worked on their idea and learned through trial and error, they were energizing their brains by increasing the number of contacts between neurons. The more times they act, the longer they worked the more active their brains became and the more creative they became.

Their creative brains made them aware of the range of many potentials for each adjustment they built into their design. Their personal observations of the many alternative potentials led them to constantly change and modify their ideas that created the airplane.

When they constantly worked on their idea and learned through trial and error, they were energizing their brains by increasing the number of contacts between neurons. I like to metaphorically compare working toward a desired goal such the goals of Van Gogh and the Wright brothers to weight lifting.  If you want to build muscles you lift weights. If the weight is heavy enough it’s going to damage the muscles. That damage creates a chemical cascade and reaches into the nuclei of your muscle cells, and turns on genes that make proteins and build up muscle fibers. Those genes are only turned on in response to some environmental challenge. That’s why you’ve got to keep lifting heavier and heavier weights. The phrase, “No pain no gain,” is literally true in this case. Interaction with the environment turns on certain genes which otherwise wouldn’t be turned on; in fact, they will be turned off if certain challenges aren’t being faced.

Lesson #4 Don’t wait for perfect moments

Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful. We are what we repeatedly do.

Start Now

To get a feel for how powerful the simple act of just starting something creative and working on it is, try the following thought experiment.

THOUGHT EXPERIMENT

Take out a sheet of paper and at least ten items, money, credit cards, keys, coins, etc. Your task is to create an assemblage that metaphorically represents you.

Here are the guidelines:

  1. In your mind, imagine an assemblage that metaphorically represents you. Do not think about the materials you have in hand. Instead think about the shape you would like your assemblage to have. What are the rhythms you want? The texture? Where would you want it to be active? Passive? Where do things overlap and where are they isolated? Think in general and overall pictures, and leave out the details. Do not think about great art; just think about who you are and what how you can represent yourself metaphorically.
  2. Now form a more specific idea of the final assemblage. As you look at the paper, imagine the specific assemblage you want to create. Make sure you’ve formed this image before you move to the next step.
  3. Place the items on the paper. Since the composing stage is already done, it’s time to bring your creation into physical existence. How closely did it come to your conception? Become a critic for the assemblage. Look at it for its own sake, independent of the fact that you have created it. Take the items off and go through the same procedures. Make the assemblage again.
  4. By conceptualizing and using materials you had on hand, you created an artistic assemblage from nothing.
  5. If you performed this exercise every day with different objects for five to ten straight days you will find yourself becoming an artist who specializes in rearranging unrelated objects into art. It is the activity that turns on the synaptic transmissions in your brain that turn on the genes that are linked to what you are doing, which is responding to an environmental challenge (i.e., the making of an assemblage).

………………..

Michael Michalko author of THINKERTOYS, CRACKING CREATIVITY, THINKPAK, and CREATIVE THINKERING www.creativethinking.net

Imagineering the Impossible to the Possible

imagine2

Try to solve the following thought experiment before you read the paragraph that follows it.

 One morning, exactly at sunrise, a Buddhist monk began to climb a tall mountain. The narrow path, no more than a foot or two wide, spiraled around the mountain to a glittering temple at the summit. The monk ascended the path at a varying rate of speed, stopping many times along the way to rest and to eat the dried fruit he carried with him. He reached the temple shortly before sunset. After several days of fasting and medi­tation, he began his journey back along the same path, starting at sunrise and again walking at a varying speed with many stops along the way. His average speed descending was, of course, greater than his average climbing speed. Is there a spot along the path that the monk will occupy on both trips at precisely the same time of day?

…….

If you try to logically reason this out or use a mathematical approach, you will conclude that it is unlikely for the monk to find himself on the same spot at the same time of day on two different occasions. Instead, visualize the monk walking up the hill, and at the same time imagine the same monk walking down the hill. The two figures must meet at some point in time regardless of their walking speed or how often they stop. Whether the monk descends in two days or three days makes no difference; it all comes out to the same thing.

Now it is, of course, impossible for the monk to duplicate himself and walk up the mountain and down the mountain at the same time. But in the visual image he does; and it is precisely this indifference to logic, this superimposition of one image over the other, that leads to the solution.

The imaginative conception of the monk meeting himself blends the journeys up and down the mountain and superimposes one monk on the other at the meeting place. The ancient Greeks called this kind of thinking homoios, which means “same.” They sensed that this was really a kind of mirror image of the dream process, and it led to art and scientific revelations.

Imagination gives us the impertinence to imagine making the impossible possible. Einstein, for example, was able to imagine alternatives to the sacred Newtonian notion of absolute time, and discovered that time is relative to your state of motion. Think of the thousands of scientists who must have come close to Einstein’s insight but lacked the imagination to see it because of the accepted dogma that time is absolute, and who must have considered it impossible to contemplate any theory.

THOUGHT EXPERIMENT

Think of something that is impossible to do, but if it were possible to do, would change the nature of your business forever? Then try to come up with ideas that take you as close as possible to make that impossibility a reality.

EXAMPLE: A non-profit in Russia was concerned that over 30 percent of Russian drivers failed to comply with parking regulations concerning disabled spaces. The impossibility they imagined was to hire disabled people to park in wheelchairs in the parking spaces to ward off people trying to take the disabled places.

IMAGINEERING. Then they brainstormed for ideas to come as close to this impossibility as possible. How can we imagineer this into a realistic and practical idea?

IDEA: The idea they settled on was to use projections of real disabled people to ward off people who try to take disabled spaces. The system uses a camera which can detect whether or not a driver has a disabled sticker in their windshield — a hologram appears to confront them if they don’t. The image is projected onto a thin, water mist screen, which is initially invisible to the public eye. When the system detects an offender, a projection appears in the form of a disabled individual and says, ‘Stop. What are you doing? I’m not just a sign on the ground. Don’t pretend that I don’t exist.’

Another impossible idea they imagined was to deputize every resident and give them the authority to ticket and fine offending parkers. They imagineered this by introducing warning tickets designed to look like parking tickets. The tickets can be printed and issued by anyone and placed on any car wrongly parked in a disabled space. This campaign enables all residents to lend a helping hand. Participants are encouraged to place them on cars which they find wrongly parked in disabled bays. The tickets look like parking fines and feature text reminding the recipient of the importance of refraining from using the spaces.

When the non-profit participants imagineered the impossibilities, their minds decomposed them into several parts and then focused on the interesting parts to build ideas. This focus on the interesting parts is what inspired the new insights and ideas.

(Michael Michalko is the author of Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative Thinking Techniques; Cracking Creativity: The Thinking Strategies of Creative Geniuses;  Thinkpak: A Brainstorming Card Deck, and Creative Thinkering: Putting Your Imagination to Work. http://www.creativethinking.net)

REARRANGE WHAT YOU KNOW IN ORDER TO DISCOVER WHAT YOU DO NOT KNOW

REARRANGE IT INTO SOMETHING ELSE? Creativity, it could be said, consists largely of rearranging what we know in order to find out what we do not know. Rearrangement usually offers countless alternatives for ideas, goods, and services. A baseball manager, for example, can shuffle his lineup 362,880 times.

 Ask:

What other arrangement might be better?

Interchange components?

Other pattern? Other layout? Other sequence? Change the order?

Transpose cause and effect?

Change pace? Change schedule?

.

Rearrange the letters in simple words and see what surprises you can create. Following are some examples.

PRESBYTERIAN:

When you rearrange the letters:

BEST IN PRAYER 

.

ASTRONOMER:

When you rearrange the letters:

MOON STARER 

.

DESPERATION:

When you rearrange the letters:

A ROPE ENDS IT 

.

THE EYES: 

When you rearrange the letters:

THEY SEE

.

THE MORSE CODE:

When you rearrange the letters:

HERE COME DOTS

.

DORMITORY:

When you rearrange the letters:

DIRTY ROOM

.  

SLOT MACHINES:

When you rearrange the letters:

CASH LOST IN ME

.

ANIMOSITY:

When you rearrange the letters:

IS NO AMITY

.

ELECTION RESULTS:

When you rearrange the letters: 

LIES – LET’S RECOUNT 

.

SNOOZE ALARMS:

When you rearrange the letters: 

ALAS! NO MORE Z ‘S

.

A DECIMAL POINT:

When you rearrange the letters:

I’M A DOT IN PLACE

.

THE EARTHQUAKES:

When you rearrange the letters:

THAT QUEER SHAKE

.

ELEVEN PLUS TWO:

When you rearrange the letters:

TWELVE PLUS ONE

 santa

(Michael Michalko is the author of Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative Thinking Techniques; Cracking Creativity: The Thinking Strategies of Creative Geniuses; Thinkpak: A Brainstorming Card Deck, and Creative Thinkering: Putting Your Imagination to Work. http://www.creativethinking.net)

SANTA = SATAN

TURN YOUR PROBLEM UPSIDE DOWN

beer lady

This is a drawing of an old lady. To see something different change your perspective by turning the picture upside down.  Reversing the way you look at it changes the drawing into something different.

It’s the same with ideas. Change your psychology by reversing the way you look at the problem. Early nomadic societies were all based on the principle of “getting to the water.” Only when they reversed this perspective to “how can we get the water to come to us” did civilization begin to flourish.

Think of Michelangelo when he sculpted what may be the world’s most famous sculpture, David. He did not think of “building” something; he thought of “taking away” something from what was there. A quotation often attributed to him has it that “the more the marble wastes away, the more the sculpture grows.” Michelangelo would gaze at a block of marble and visualize what was within it. Then he would chip away at the block to free his vision.

Why does a mirror seem to invert left and right but not top and bottom? That is, when you hold an open book up to a mirror, why are the letters of the text backward but not upside down, and why is your left hand the double’s right and your right the double’s left? When we look into a mirror we imagine ourselves reversed left to right, as if we had walked around behind a pane of glass to look through it. This conventional perspective is why we cannot explain what is happening with a mirror.

To understand a mirror’s image, you have to psychologically reverse the way you perceive your image. Imagine your nose and the back of your head reversed, through the mirror. You have to imagine yourself reversed, “squashed” back to front. Stand in front of the mirror with one hand pointing east and the other west. Wave the east hand. The mirror image waves its east hand. Its west hand lies to the west. Its head is up and the feet are down. Once you look at a mirror with this perspective, you gain an understanding, about the axis of the mirror, which is the imaginary line on a mirror about which a body rotates. We have difficulty understanding the mirror until we change our perspective.

An easy way to change your thinking patterns when faced with a problem is to first list all your assumptions about the problem. Then reverse your assumptions and try to make the reversals work. Following is a thought experiment about reversing a store policy. After you read the problem, try to come up with ideas before you read further.

THOUGHT EXPERIMENT

A clothing retailer is concerned about the rate of garment returns. According to the store policy, a customer who returns a garment must receive a cash refund. Reverse this policy so that it says: if a customer returns a garment, the store does give a cash refund. Can you come up with ideas to make this reversal into a practical solution?

………………..SOLUTION………………..

What can the store give the customer instead of a refund? One idea is to offer the customer a gift certificate worth more than the original purchase price. In effect this gives the customer a 10 percent reward for returning the unwanted garment. The policy would allow the store to keep most of the cash, and the customers would likely be happy with the reward. The real payback would occur when the customer returned with the gift certificate. A customer who returned a $100 garment would receive a gift certificate for $110. Psychology predicts that, when the customer returns to the store, he will go to the higher priced garments. For example, instead of shopping for an $l00 garment, he will be attracted to the $200 garments because, in his mind, it would “cost” him only $90. What a deal!

Change the way you look at things by reversing them and looking at the other side.

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For more creative thinking techniques read Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko. http://www.amazon.com/Thinkertoys-Handbook-Creative-Thinking-Techniques-Edition/dp/1580087736/ref=pd_sim_b_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=0T6TTX3RDA7VQ9NEJR5C