When it comes to thinking creatively, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Our ideas tend to fall into the same predictable categories, despite our efforts to the contrary. How can you jump-start your thinking in some new, creative directions? One way is to form your own personal “board of directors.”
Not a real board – this one’s in your head
Because we’re talking about creative thinking, this isn’t an actual board. Rather; it’s an imaginary one. Here’s the beauty part: It can be composed of any famous person or individual who have influenced you, living or dead. The key is that they need to be innovative thinkers in their areas of expertise. This technique is an excellent example of lateral thinking – changing your perspective to expand the variety of ideas you’re able to generate.
What can you do with this imaginary group of Big Thinkers? It’s quite simple, really: put yourself in their shoes. Imagine how THEY would approach your current problem or challenge.
How to create your own board of directors
Mind mapping software is the perfect way to perform this “sleight of head.” Here’s how it works, in 3 easy steps:
1. Pick your personalities: In the example above (click on the image to view a larger version), I have selected three big thinkers: Richard Branson, the late Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein.
2. Outline their characteristics: To help me bridge the gap between my thinking and the ways in which these famous people have successfully solved problems, I have created subtopics that describe some of the key characteristics for which they’re known.
3. Generate ideas based on those characteristics: Finally, I use those characteristics to imagine how they would approach the problem I’m trying to solve. I imagine myself standing before them, describing my current challenge or problem to them as they listen intently, nodding their heads in understanding. I then listen and take notes as they share their best thinking on how to solve it. In other words, their defining characteristics become catalysts to help me generate new ideas and insights to solve my creative challenge.
I have used this brainstorming technique numerous times, and it works wonderfully for me. There’s something about changing my perspective that is very powerful. It helps me mentally get out of my own way and reveals new ideas and solutions that I probably wouldn’t have discovered by simple “brutethink” idea generation. You can use it, too – and you don’t need any special tools or expertise. Just a mind map (or pen and paper) to record the ideas that pop into your head as you perform this lateral thinking exercise.
Why use a mind map for this creative thinking exercise?
Placing this information into a visual format makes it easier to see connections between ideas and to identify “white space” possibilities. Don’t forget, you can also use this mind map to evaluate and prioritize your ideas and transform them into action plans.
Why not give this simple but powerful visual brainstorming technique a try? I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results!