Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Optician Project: Selecting information and stepping up the concept level

FreeFoto.comI'm an optician and I'm about to do a project: I'll leave my premises to put advertising leaflets on the windscreens of local cars. I have hired a temp to help me distribute the leaflets. We have fifty leaflets each to distribute.

Introduction

Suppose I am (creative) thinking about the distribution project above and I turn my attention to: the leaflets (as listed in the Listing key information with category-triggers post). I will most probably (automatically, in fact) think of the 100 leaflets to be distributed. However, there can be benefits in stepping up the concept level (of the leaflets) to a more general concept level. This can lead to tangents/ideas such as:

Study other leaflets and ask myself "Why are these effective?"
Ask "In what other ways could a paper medium be used to publicize the business?"

Similarly, if I turn my attention to the advertising campaign I will automatically think of this campaign -- the campaign involving the leaflet distribution. Stepping up the concept level can lead to tangents/ideas such as:

Read a book on advertising
Consult an advertising professional for feedback

Three ways to step up the concept level

There are three ways to step-up the concept level:

1) Step up to dictionary level
2) Step up to category-triggers
3) Step up to the level created by hindsight-questions

Stepping up to dictionary level

Say, for example, I am directing my attention to the leaflets of the distribution project. To step up to dictionary concept level all I have to do recognise the fact that there is a dictionary entry for that word and that the dictionary definition represents a broader concept. So leaflet in the dictionary will be defined along these lines:

A printed sheet of paper with information, to be distributed for advertising purposes.

So now when I think of leaflets I have the option to consider both the leaflets of the distribution project and the leaflet at dictionary concept level.

When the information is two words or more:

If I am directing my attention to some information represented by more than one word (such as: leaflet distribution) I can do one of four things:

1) Be mindful of the definition for each of the words individually and consider how they would be combined to represent a broader concept level.

2) Imagine that "leaflet distribution" is listed in the dictionary, and consider how the dictionary would define the activity.

3) Imagine that a word has been invented to represent "leaflet distribution" and consider how the dictionary would define the new word. (The word could be something like "leafdishing" etc.)

4) Find an existing dictionary-listed word that is a close approximation of my information. For example, leaflet distribution could be represented by: promotion, publicizing, campaigning etc.

Step up to category-triggers

(See also Listing key information with category-triggers)

There are eight category-triggers:

Time(s) Duration(s) Place(s) Project(s) People(s) Thing(s) Object(s) Activity(ies)

Again, for this example I am focusing on the leaflets. The category-triggers represent (very) broad concepts and the leaflets (and any other information) will be a member of one (or more) of those concepts.

Examples:

Leaflets = Thing(s), Object(s)
Distribution = Time, Duration, Project, Activity
Car = Thing, Object

So when I am focusing on a piece of information I can also be mindful of the category-trigger concept of which the information is a member.

Step up to the level created by hindsight-questions

In the Listing information with hindsight-focus post I used hindsight-questions. To create a hindsight-question I consider some information (such as the leaflets) and imagine how various questions could've been created that would have prompted me to give that information (the leaflets) as an answer. One hindsight-question for the leaflets was:

Name something that took you hours to prepare

I can use this information to form a concept: things that took you hours to prepare. Another hindsight-question for the leaflets was:

What's needed the most consideration?

I can use that to form a concept: things that need(ed) the most consideration.

Repeating the upping of concept level

I have the option to follow the use of one concept-upping techniques with the use of another. This can continue indefinitely.

Example:

With a leaflet as my information, I can step up to the concept level created by a hindsight-question:

Leaflet = paper advertisement

Then use another hindsight-question to step up:

Paper advertisement = something people read that tells them about the business

Then step up to dictionary concept level (by imagining a word created to describe "something people read that tells them about a business"):

Info-data

Then use another hindsight-question to step up:

Info-data = useful information


See also: Serious Creativity: Using the Power of Lateral Thinking to Create New Ideas by Edward de Bono. (Chapter : The Concept Fan)

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