Conceptual Blockbusting Notes

“Few people like problems. Hence the natural tendency in problem-solving is to pick the first solution and run with it.”

“A better strategy in solving problems is to select the most attractive path from many ideas or concepts.” 

We spend years learning how to do, but little time learning how to think. 

This book challenges you examine the different factors, or “blocks” that are stopping us from being better problem solvers. 

Different types of blocks: 

Perceptional Blocks – prevent the problem solver from clearly perceiving either the problem itself or the information needed to solve the problem

Emotional Blocks – Emotions are complex, but play an integral part in our problem solving process (fear of risks, judgment etc..) 

Cultural Blocks – “Insensitivity to cultural factors inhibits creativity.” 

Examples: taboos, playfulness is for children, bias towards analytics, trodden > change

Environmental Blocks – “Imposed by our immediate social and psychological environment.” 

Examples: Distractions, lack of trust, autocratic bosses, lack of support 

Intellectual – Lack of “intellectual ammunition” needed to solve a problem. Examples: too little information, inability to use correct problem solving language

Expressive Blocks – Inability to “communicate ideas” to others and ourselves

“However, for most of us, creativity is a more of a dull flow than a divine spark. The more fanning it receives, the brighter it will burn.”

There is creativity in all of us. Just realize that new ideas are being blocked in countless ways. Perceptions, emotions, culture, environment, intellect, expression. We can’t eliminate these factors, but being aware of our blocks can help us improve our problem-solving abilities. 

You will record very little information on a topic you dislike. If you hate math, you will record little new math-related information. 

9 dots 4 lines problem. This is hard and requires “thinking outside the box.” I propose there are solutions doing it with 3 lines, 2 lines and even 1 line if you are able to get over the right blocks.  

“Logic is the tool to dig holes deeper and bigger, to make them altogether better holes. But if the hole is in the wrong place, then no amount of improvement is going to put it in the right place. No matter how obvious this may seem to every digger, it is still easier to go on digging in the same place than to start all over again in a new place. Vertical thinking is digging the same hole deeper; lateral thinking is trying again elsewhere.”

Building a business is like digging a hole. You can build it in soft ground and it’s easy to dig, or you build it over stone and blast your way through. Do some research so you’re not surprised if there’s a boulder below where you’re setting up your company, because once you pick a spot, you can’t complain about where you ended up. 

What are analogous stories about a situation where something didn’t work because of the ground it was built on? 

Psychological perspectives say that creativity happens below the conscious level. Our new ideas are filtered out by our conscious and rational minds. How can we remove these blocks and allow our creativity to find it’s way out and into the world? 

We all have our preferred ways of solving problems, words, pictures or mathematics. Instead of choosing the most comfortable, we should choose the one best suited for solving the problem at hand. 

What would the solution look like if it were perfect? 

“Creative people are especially observant, and they value accurate observation (telling themselves the truth) more than other people do.” 

Alex Osborn’s four rules of brainstorming:

No evaluation of any kind is permitted

Think of the wildest ideas possible

Encourage quantity. Quantity leads to quality 

Build off of other ideas 

“Bob Sutton, an organizational behavior professor at Stanford, is fond of saying that non-innovative companies reward success, punish failure and accept inaction. Innovative companies reward both success and failure (assuming it follows a valiant attempt) and punish inaction.”

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