Archiv der Kategorie: Creativity

Creativity covers the area from idea generation to concept development.

Mind map 2.0 multiplies your efficacy

In the past, we were prepared for our professional life by learning reading and writing, basic arithmetic and geometry, music, art and sport in ex-cathedra teaching. Group work and business exercises or computers and visualizations were rarely used. An example of an approach is the Mind map. All kinds of ideas, structures and sketches can be created: e.g. brainstorming’s, strategies, goal hierarchies, business developments, project plans, minutes, problem solutions, speeches, time management, etc. The efficacy of Mind mapping can be multiplied by using IT-based tools such as Mindmanager, XMind, iMindMap, iThoughts and others.

In addition to the tips and tricks, the internet also provides rules for mind mapping. The following suggestions are primarily intended to enable the use of IT tools.

  • Anything goes
    Actually when you create your mind map with an IT program, all the common rules are
    no longer necessary. The now realizable size exceeds the limits of a sheet of paper by far. This also applies to the number of branches and the number of detail levels as well as to the labels and other media (see below). The development of a mind map can be done on your own or in a team by using a beamer or large video screen, or even in virtual videoconferences with worldwide distributed participants. Depending on the number of participants, the effort for the coordination of the branches of the resulting map increases.
  • Use the media
    Whereas one is conventionally limited to writing, drawing and gluing images in paper-based mind maps, one can use a wide variety of multimedia objects to integrate them in a tool-based way – texts, images, videos, links, office files, etc.
  • Any contribution counts
    If one works on paper, then the rework, i.e. above all the simplification, is somewhat complicated. In an IT-based mind map, the branches can be reassigned as required, including all sub-branches attached to them. This supports the usual brainstorming approach of simply capturing each post without discussion. That way maps can be developed in separate working groups. The final incorporation creates an aligned, joined result.
  • Be aware of your gut feeling
    A practical feature is the subsequent arrangement of the branches. The graphical presentation supports thereby the intuitive editing of the content. You can move branches into others and get inspired by the new formation. Visual thinking does not simply follow conscious logic. Through the graphical structure, the subconscious mind assists in the alignment. In the interest of a skillful result you should always listen to your gut feeling, even if you cannot always understand the reasoning behind.
  • Keep on going
    Software tools live on their juncture to the world. The Mindmanager offers connectivity to Microsoft products, for example: MS-Excel, MS-Word, MS-PowerPoint and even MS-Project. This means that the captured content can continue to be used in the sequence. Thus, the activities of a project, including dates and dependencies, can be planned with the Mindmanager and then transferred to the MS-Project format.

Bottom line: Tool-supported mind mapping, like Mind map 2.0, expands the use of this approach. This allows the multi-medial creation of mind maps of any size. At the same time, open approaches for the development can be used and sub sequentially integrated to a coherent overall picture. With the graphic representation the subconscious areas of thinking are also used. Eventually, all the results can be reused in classic office tools. Thus, Mind map 2.0, i.e. the use of software-supported mind mapping, multiplies the efficacy of the mind mapping.

Mechanisms of Design

Everybody, who is competing for people’s attention, is looking for starting points that let them stand out from the rush of sensual stimuli. For this purpose we all can rely on basic patterns – Gestalt principles or Gestalt laws. These are mechanisms that can direct, guide and seduce perception.

The media has used for a long time these mechanisms, which are also treated in Gestalt psychology. The following mechanisms describe some basic principles.

  • Mechanism of the figure-ground (1)
    The perception happens quasi-automatically, without deliberately parsing a scene. Thus the attention subconsciously lands in an image on the central object, the figure placed in front of a background. In rare cases, the background comes to the fore and distracts from the actual foreground.
    In order to pack a message easily recognizable, the content should stand out clearly from the background.
  • Mechanism of proximity (2)
    If several things are close to each other, then we perceive them as a group. That way, extensive representations can be divided into smaller areas. Good examples are newspapers in which paragraphs in the print space are delimited from each other by a corresponding white space.
    In order to make the outline of something easier to recognize, related parts should be closer to, with a noticeable distance from each other.
  • Mechanism of continuity (3)
    If things are in line and follow a path that consistently continues across borders, we assume that they belong together. This can be found on maps where lines often cross one another. The observers are able to detect the continuation of a line when ambiguous intersections are avoided.
    Related elements should be arranged in a line and other groups should be clearly differentiated.
  • Mechanism of closure (4)
    If individual elements form a closed form, then we no longer regard the individual building blocks as noteworthy, but rather the resulting form. The meaning then arises from the resulting group.
    Groups can be made visible through an according arrangement of certain elements into a formation.
  • Mechanism of similarity (5,10)
    The same shape or color is a strong indication that they are similar things. In situations that consist of many individual parts, we are able to identify the groups because of the similarity of the elements. In moving constellations groups can also be distinguished due to the same direction of movement.
    Things that belong together should have common features, e.g. shape, color or size. The elements that do not belong should be clearly set off.
  • Mechanism of the common region (6,7,9)
    If individual elements are found in areas separated by a border, we perceive the individual parts in different zones as related. The individual areas result from recognizable borders or areas of different colors, surfaces or shapes. The common regions may result from a simple pattern, such as a chessboard, or from an organic figure.
    Through forming areas by drawing boundaries or designing areas, the respective building blocks can be presented as a group.
  • Mechanism of personal experience (8)
    An important mechanism is the personal experience of the observers. If they already know certain constellations, they recognize the corresponding groups. This becomes understandable, for example, when you learn a new writing system (for example Japanese Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji). Without the familiar types of strokes, non-Asians find it hard to learn the scriptures. Since everyone provides a unique set of experiences, teams recognize more structures than individuals.
    Different people should be involved for detecting groups, since more experience will lead to better creation of groups.

Bottom line: The presented mechanisms are sometimes are called Gestalt principles or Gestalt laws. However, this does not imply that these mechanisms will always work. But our pattern recognition influences the observation of objects like pictures, texts, films, web pages, etc. Our perception is guided through the content by the mechanisms figure-ground, closeness, continuity, closeness, similarity, common region and personal experience- whether we want it or not. The conscious use of the Gestalt principles, the Gestalt laws or the mechanisms of design ensures that we do not send ambiguous messages.

Explore with PO potentials

In digital times, not many people are aware of how limited bivalent choices are. Even though the analogue reality takes place between the two poles of one and zero. The Western value system shows, how strongly this thinking affects every single pore. They oscillate between good and evil; between right and wrong; between black and white. The fact that the area in between contains an immeasurable number of alternatives does not always seem to be clear. The huge gray area is ignored. There is for a long time a way out of the dilemma of yes and no – by exploring with PO potentials.

Edward de Bono described the concept in detail already in the seventies. And yet, it seems to have slipped past everyday life. For this reason, here are a few possibilities for PO.

  • Use the impossible
    An alternative, which is to be rejected for good reasons, is far more than what speaks against it. Just as everything always has two sides, there is in every rejection additional potential for further solutions. Instead of using the classic No to suppress further reflection, the application of PO prevents to terminate the thought process prematurely. The associations attached with the negative alternative can be further used. Good examples are Post-its. The question of the meaningfulness of an adhesive which does not adhere would have been prevented removable notes and papers of any size. PO creates the freedom to continue toying with a thought, instead of immediately burying a proposal with a No. The number of solutions that is prevented is infinitely great. PO helps to rephrase the No.
  • Use the nonsense
    A major challenge is dealing with obviously absurd connections. The potential for completely new solutions can be found exactly here. Let us take the current trend of agility in bureaucratic companies as an example. How do you disrupt the inertia of the participants? Take an object that is within your reach. Connect agility with the object! Overcome the incomprehension of the first moment. Do not reject the context a priori! Use PO to step back and look at the two facts with a fresh look. If you have already overcome your resistance, you are already creating unexpected connections. Transfer your insights from the links that you’ve found. Whatever it is, it will make the introduction of agility more likely. PO is the fuel that enables to think the unthinkable.
  • Further develop feasible
    If you found the right thing, the spontaneous joy of the Eureka slows down the further kneading of the thought. And there is always more in something good. The best solution is always connected to further alternatives. The tendency to interrupt the flow of thought is the greatest hurdle for more. This could lead with additional tinkering to further or even completely new solutions. If, for example, the complete juice was pressed out of an orange, one might be tempted to throw away the skin. Although it contains active ingredients that help with respiratory problems, skin problems and an increased cholesterol level. This will enable further use of the already positive effect of the vitamin C. PO increases an already effective result.

Bottom line: PO opens up the world of possibilities. It helps not to give in to the first impulse, and to interrupt the productive flow of thought by not making any further thinking. A negative result is not sufficiently exhausted by rejection, although it provides the basis for further ideas. The accidental linking of completely absurd aspects can lead to entirely new inspirations. Even the positive solution can be multiplied by continuing thinking about it, despite its good results. PO is the missing link in yes-no cultures for an open approach to the endless opportunities that could be discovered. No more $ale of the century. From now on, more often exploring with Po potentials.

The Way out of unimaginativeness

It is wrong to believe that everybody must find new things. Ideas alone are not sufficient. They must also be designed, applied and continuously shared. This requires designers, application specialists and communicators. However, without the idea generator there is nothing to convert. Nevertheless many people believe that they should be part of the idea finding. But for some people the white sheet of paper, which has to be filled with the idea, is an insurmountable hurdle. The Way helps out of the unimaginativeness.


If you have no idea and you start copying results without thinking, you cannot choose an idea or you complain about not having time to think, then you need a way out of unimaginativeness. For this purpose the next three steps may help.

  • Thinking
    Above anything else it is important that you take time for thinking. You can choose how this works best for you. Some people walk around the block and find thereby their solution. Others browse through books or magazines and pick up a thread. Still others need a sheet of paper, which they fill with sketches and scraps of words that result after several iterations in a consistent structure. No matter how, you have to invest time. Without time nothing else remains for you, than leave yourself to the fate of the unimaginativeness.
  • Developing
    After the idea is there, the real work begins. The individual aspects must now be prepared and reconciled. This step follows seamlessly the first one. Now it is important to research and collect facts and eventually to describe a consistent paper that fits into the desired context. This requires more time than first one. For this reason it is suggested to accomplish these elaborations in a team. Based on the first step, you have sufficient material, in order to distribute the work across several shoulders. In addition you receive additional perspectives that lift the concept over the first hurdles of critics. Also in this step you must accept that you have to invest time.
  • Internalizing
    After the paper is ready, it has to fit into reality. This can only be done, after you internalized it. For this purpose, you read the results and consider how you can apply them. Now, you can go into the first application and identify and adapt the last flaws. If you launch too early in the target areas, the flaws grow exponentially and the draft does not have a fair chance to survive. Also the internalization needs sufficient time, in order to achieve their targets.

If you do not start to follow the path, then you already arrived at the goal – or in other words, no sweet without sweat. Exactly the same happens with the unimaginativeness. If you do not take time, in order to think about the circumstances, to develop and to internalize the concept, you remain without ideas. In this case other capabilities do not help.

Bottom line: Ideas do not fall from the sky, but they are the result of arduous and continuous thinking work. It follows the steps of thinking, developing and internalizing. This way out of the unimaginativeness requires effort and time. Not everybody has to walk through each phase. For you it is only important to find out, which part of the way fits best to you.

What actually disturbs solving a problem?

An enemy of problem solving is the problem blindness. Problems exist, where the targets are not reached. This happens in simple activities exactly like in complex, long-term activities and projects. Even established solutions fail because of the perception of the acting people. What actually disturbs solving a problem?


The following aspects disturb solving a problem.

  • There is no problem
    Sometimes we recognize problems, where actually are none. It can be a task that is yet finished, which simply take a certain time. In other cases the problems are so big that we do not recognize them, e.g. today’s economic crises or the social shifts. Accordingly problems can be so small that we overlook them. This includes the damages that we expect in our body, by the intake of certain medicines or the drinking of water that is polluted below safety level. Already looking in another direction prevents the timely recognition of a problem. Everybody, who paid attention to the right hand traffic at a crossing and was hit from the left side, knows this. Eventually it also could be that maybe there is simply no problem.
  • The problem is not sufficiently specified
    Sometimes it is a certain cause that is missing. Who did not ever switch the PC on and the monitor remained black? If something is missing on the checklist in your head, the screen will remain dark. The way to solving the problem can be also obstructed by an insufficient description of the effects. We take our PC that is running in the meantime. Unfortunately the familiar Windows user interface does not appear. As long as your hotline does not get the message “Please do not power off or unplug your machine …”, the specialist pokes around in the dark. It becomes also very difficult, if too much information is presupposed. Thus, copying a text will become a problem for a computer beginner, if he does not know the available functions for the operation of a mouse: Clicks, double clicks, pressed mouse button, etc.
  • The problem gets stuck in unconscious assumptions
    Sometimes simply the words are missing, in order to seize the problem. Technicians often wonder that their perfect solutions do not get the expected acceptance by the customer. They overlook that customers do not consider the technical, but also the emotional aspects of the design, the usability and the haptics. Frequently the solution hides itself behind logical conclusions that are imposed by our experience. We remember the Fosbury Flop, i.e. the technology of high jump that reached new heights by the “back first” technique over the bar. Previously, everybody implied that one would have to jump forward over the bar. But it is only a matter to jump across a bar as high as possible without any means.
  • The solution is stuck in a dead end
    Sometimes, you are simply too late, because somebody else already solved the problem. If for example a colleague already put the plug of the supply cord back into the socket (see above). The solutions that we do not want are uncomfortable, because we don’t like them. Imagine that you have two important appointments at the same time in the calendar. You would not like to leave one to a colleague. But many difficulties cannot be solved alone. Then, you need the help of somebody. Some problem solutions fall into stagnation, because nobody needs them at exactly this moment. Eventually it exists always the possibility that there is no solution at all. The earlier you understand it, the better.

Bottom line: A clear problem awareness is the key to the solution.

Critics, Curators and Commentators

The media need a continuous flow of contents that are sent, printed or posted. Every little topic or subject finds its own access to its audience. Hundreds of TV channels are broadcasting around the clock. Likewise many magazines flood the newsstands. Apparently, this bulk cannot be supplied anymore with first-hand contents. The creative power shifts slowly into the second row. Critics, curators and commentators become more important than authors, artists and other cultural producers.


It is actually practical, if people take over the task to sift through the flood of information and to prepare bite-sized pieces. Newscasters, correspondents, experts and contemporary witnesses comment around the clock on daily events. There are already evolving new formats that review and consolidate the flood of criticisms and comments. This way valuable broadcasting minutes get filled with repetitions and annotated comments. Breakfast programs, lunchtime shows, afternoon formats and eventually night programs are developed around original contents.

What is actually happening, if the creativity of the doers gets lost and becomes shifted to this monotonous re-use?

It is easier to report on others, than coming up with something by yourself. The lengthy work of a writer is naturally less attractive for the today’s sprinters, who only have the breath for the short distance, than the quick comment in radio or television programs. Thus, one processes more books per year, as if one would have to write them.

Everyday things become news in the absence of doers, who fill the existing broadcasting time of the audiovisual media and the pages in the print media and the Internet. Accordingly the feuilletons observe the red carpets and celebrate royal newborns. Various weekday formats explain the newest diets or culinary arts. In science formats the Stone Age is reported and scenarios are developed, about what would happen, if humans would disappear from one day to the other. In technology formats new cars are tested and old ones get pimped. Eventually the same is discussed and repeated regularly. Always the same museums, theaters, authors, filmmakers and artist are presented in the public.

Bottom line: The culture becomes impoverished by soft-washed ruminating of few original contents. Instead of reporting on new, not yet established makers, they always pass on the same participants from one channel to the other, from one feuilleton to the next. The spectators lose essential lifetime by being entertained with short repetitions of critics, curator sand commentators that they do not need. The creativity of producing original works and the required stamina go pop. In the end the contents does not count anymore, but only the new format. This could be the beginning of an unproductive era that does not leave anything behind but gimmicky critics, curators and commentators, who contribute nothing else to the culture than their vociferous formats.

I spread an idea!

An increasing number of specialists produce more and more information. The knowledge of the world doubles every five to fifteen years. The amount of data in the public Internet (2012) contains 26.7 Exabyte. That corresponds 66750-times of all books ever written. One Exabyte are 1018 byte = .000.000.000 Byte. The daily ideas that develop all people day by day at work are not included. Especially the idea that you developed.


After the idea is available, it should be spread everywhere. Besides ‘classical’ marketing, a particularly designed idea finds almost automatically its way to the audience. The components of the idea are prepared for this purpose in such a way that they reach the target group with new tools, like the use of imitation, training, mouth propaganda and Trojans.

During the spreading, it is, above all, important that the target group is motivated and can take over and use the idea in a simple way. Four kinds of selection criteria help the target group. The attention is attracted, when the idea is completely new and can be used and conveyed in an easy way. The more lasting the qualities are, the target group can benefit more from the idea. Accuracy is achieved through language and peculiarities of the target group during the dissemination. The idea always reinforces itself with purposeful repetition of specific elements.

Extend your idea with the following three steps. The elements create a contagious message.

  1. Illustrate your idea!
  2. Describe the Aura of the idea! (1)
  3. Define the Sphere of the idea! (2)

Now, your idea can be conveyed and discussed. In contrast to a prepared plan that provides detailed descriptions to solve a task, the idea is still open for changes and new elements.

(1) The Aura consists of the common denominator, the existing assumptions and the aspects that make the content attractive.

(2) The Sphere includes the trigger, the qualities and the benefit as well as the values of the content.

Further information:

Same series:

I need an idea – Now!

I sense an idea

I have an idea!


I have an idea!

According to a study, one in four employees in Germany provides ideas for improving the business. That way per 100 employees 70 proposals are made – in the automotive industry even 182 proposals. Not only the enterprise benefits from the proposals, but also the employees. On average 190€ are rewarded for a proposal. World-wide Toyota is leading with 1100 proposals per 100 employees.

skultur zahnrad

Every proposal starts with “I have an idea”. How often do we hear this sentence and express the fact that we have a more or less prepared idea in our mind. The image is, however, not yet clear for other people. Whether a thought is feasible, will be clear after the idea is discussed and simulated.

The idea becomes interesting, if it contains certain elements.

  1. Determine the topic of your idea!
  2. Describe the pre-requisites for the idea!
  3. Imagine the realized idea!
  4. Clarify expectations of the involved people!
  5. Define specific measures for the next steps!

The result is the idea with the specified details. It becomes increasingly tangible. In the next step the criteria are described that will foster the familiarity for the target group.

Further information:

To be continued …

Same series:

I need an idea – Now!

I sense an idea

I spread an idea!

I sense an idea

An idea evolves subconsciously. For this reason, it is important to provide enough room for the idea, so that it can emerge (see also: “I need an idea – now!”. You provided room for your idea, in order to let it grow. The first idea wafts float already through your mind. The one or the other veil evaporates or conjoins with others. You sense the idea.


Over time you notice that you are interested in something. In this bundle of clouds you find the idea that you should look at a little bit closer. Words are still missing and the idea is not yet tangible. Trust in your fantasy that brought you that far. Do not compel. Give yourself some more time, in order to be able to consolidate the idea. With simple questions, you can observe the idea in relaxed way. Note them on a small paper and keep it with you all the times.

  1. Do you recognize the idea?
  2. Which sensuous qualities come to your mind?
  3. What do you recognize around the idea?
  4. How does the idea look from different perspectives?
  5. How does the idea feel?
  6. How do you call the idea?

Your mental picture is more and more taking shape. Still the description is missing, in order to communicate it to others.

Further information:

To be continued …

Same series:

I need an idea – Now

I have an idea!

I spread an idea!

I need an idea – Now!

Around the world over 8.7 million trademarks, patents, industrial design use and design patent were registered in 2010. These are „official “ideas that follow a formal registration process. At the same time, there are the ideas that evolve in our heads. They build up like clouds, until they bring the necessary humidity as rain to the ground. Accordingly, a company needs regularly new stimulus.

How can you get an idea at the right moment? The thoughts are nevertheless free. However, sometimes you need additional inspiration. A starting point is missing, from which an idea grows. Even though the feeling tells us that an idea is on the tip of your tongue. How can you create an atmosphere that helps finding an idea – now!


Natural barricades must be overcome, so that creativity has enough space, in order to give birth to an idea. That includes acquired paradigms, emotional obsessions, technical blinders, mental models, sensory diversions, linguistic catchwords, prefabricated solutions, judgmental biases.

One approach that helps building the idea cloud could look like the following.

  1. Change the current environment!
  2. Get rid of your own requirements and expectations!
  3. Concentrate on something simple!
  4. Consider the growing feeling!

As soon as the necessary degree of consolidation of your inspirations is reached, the ideas appear.

Further information:

To be continued …

Same series:

I sense an idea

I have an idea!

I spread an idea!