101 Activities for Teaching Creativity and Problem Solving.Copyright © 2005 by John Wiley &
Sons, Inc. Reproduced by permission of Pfeiffer, an Imprint of Wiley. http://www.pfeiffer.com
2. Brain Borrow
Do you sometimes feel overburdened with the responsibility for coming up with new
ideas? Do you wonder how you can continue to innovate in your work or personal life? If
so, you’re not alone. We all occasionally experience some frustration in expressing our-
selves creatively on demand. Just as we can’t be all things to all people, we can’t be “all
ideas to all problems.”
There are at least three reasons for this shortcoming. First, we are limited in how we
perceive situations. We have unique perspectives that help us generate creative ideas for
some problems. For other problems, however, we don’t have the needed perspectives. We
just can’t seem to define the problem appropriately or we make untested assumptions
that constrain our creative thinking.
Second, we may lack the knowledge and information needed to deal with certain
problems. For instance, technical problems require specialized knowledge based on
extensive formal education, training, and experience. Creativity can help only a limited
amount in such situations.
Finally, we all vary in our motivations in different situations. Our individual interests
dictate how motivated we will be to solve any given problem.
Thus, the issue is not whether or not we are creative. Rather, we should ask ourselves
whether we can bring to a situation the perspectives and resources needed for creative
solutions. If we can’t, then we have a number of options. One is to use several of the activi-
ties described in this book. Another is to seek ideas from others. That is, borrow some
brains. It may turn out that you don’t really need a creative solution. Instead, you may just
need an already-existing solution that you didn’t know existed. If a problem is relatively
structured and closed, an expert is often the best choice; if your problem is more open-
ended, an expert may have a limited range of possible solutions. That is, if your problem
has just one or only a few “correct” solutions, then an expert may be your best bet.
- To help participants generate as many creative ideas as possible
- To help participants learn how to use the activities to generate ideas
Small groups of four to seven people each
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