Think Inside The Box.

Deliver Creative Solutions.

Okay, we all know that to encourage creativity you are supposed to ‘think outside the box’ (anyone remember the classic Candle Problem by Karl Dunker?), but sometimes being limited by a structure or a framework, can actually be beneficial.

Take the free resource at the bottom of this page. It’s a lovely little exercise which can be used on any creativity session. It demonstrates that sometimes putting more (rather than less) restrictions on people, can actually enhance innovative thinking. Basically it follows the same principle as sticking to a schedule. It is a little known fact that many creative minds religiously schedule their days. William James, the psychologist has even gone on to state that only by having a schedule can we ‘free our minds to advance to really interesting fields of action.’

How does it work?

The exercise demonstrates how having too much freedom often leads to the creation of more obvious ideas and less creative ones. We can in such situations, drown in a sea of possibilities. The idea is that by adding limitations, it can help us to filter out the more apparent solutions.

There are two pages in the downloadable pdf. Both pages contain a picture of a clock face, the first page has a second hand included on the image, the second page has the second hand removed. The first page is presented as a slide to the group as you explain the task. The second slide is not shown to the group, but instead printed off as an A4 handout for each of the learners and presented to them after they have been introduced to the task.

‘Here is an everyday object and in a moment I will give you a handout of the same image, but with the second hand removed. Working on an individual basis, I’d like you to replace the second hand on the clock with something unique’

At this point lot of people will draw an arm, a needle, a spoon (ie something of a similar size and dimension as second hand). However if you run this exercise again (or better still use a control group located in another room) but this time impose a condition – such as ‘the second hand they are drawing must be green’ or ‘must be living’; you end up with a far more inventive set of responses - images that aren’t limited to the initial shape / form of the original second hand.

Free resource: CreativityClock

Have a go and test the results for yourself – people really enjoy this simple exercise and it creates lots of interesting discussions about how best to foster creative thinking.


Posted On: 16 Jun 2017