Go creative for Friday

Before getting into popular science books I wrote a number of business books on being more creative in business. Not how to paint a nice business-related picture, but how to generate ideas and solve problems in a business context. My book of creativity techniques, Instant Creativity, written with Paul Birch is still a steady seller and I thought it would be entertaining to give you a little technique from it to try out.

You can do this individually or in a group. Pop over to an 'on this day' website - if you don't know one, try the BBC's or this rather encyclopedic site. Pick out two or three entries that appeal because they are bizarre, exciting or just make you think of something. Typically the dates in such lists represent an event in history, or the birth or death of a person. Imagine yourself present at the event, or being that person. How would you look at the problem? What would you do about it? What different perspectives would you get from being at the event or from the sort of activity that was typical of this person? Would the period of history involved generate any misunderstandings?

Combine different ideas from different sources. Be prepared to treat them as a starting point, rather than a final solution.

Like most creativity techniques the approach here is to give you a different starting point so you come at a problem or need for a new idea from a different direction. The mix of people and events should give a source of inspiration (and it can be a bit of fun too). If you wanted to extend the technique you could try combining events to interesting effect. What would the painter Gaugin do about your problem if he had just seen the first Zepplin destroyed? What would Richard the Lionheart (or Harry Houdini) make of the first Olympic Games, and how would it inspire him?

You can find out more about Instant Creativity and whole bunch of other books on improving business creativity on my creativity books page.