Creativity 101: The power of multiple perspectives

While I had a long and organized training on creativity (I am planning to release some materials on this blog), Anna is a master of out-of-the-box thinking. She claims that she uses one and only one trick, but she perfected using it. Anna calls this trick “multiple perspectives”.

Draw down a shape or write a word. Now take two minutes and write as many associations as you can. The average number is 15. I can do 40 on a good day, limited more by writing speed than by creative potential. How do I come up with 40 uses for a finger or 40 objects that look like a rectangle in two minutes alone?

I am utilizing the power of perspectives. I have an array of perspectives I always try:

  1. What is this item made of?
  2. How can I use this item?
  3. What everyday object looks like this item?
  4. How this item can be used for … (war, food, construction, art, entertainment, sports, grooming)
  5. What historic or symbolic meaning is associated with this item?
  6. Where I can see similar items in nature?

I have many more of these questions, and I ask them very fast. Each question projects the item into a range of virtual landscapes where I try to fit the item. For each landscape, I either get several perfect fits for the item or a reason for failure and thus a link to the next landscape to try.

A similar task of multiple perspectives is given by medium-level visualization: we take an item and rotate it (a topological operation will do) in a 3D space. With each new angle of the marker, we get new details and colors, each detail and color associated with details and colors of the knowledge we are trying to encode.

The third task of perspectives opens up the hyperlinking process. When viewing a new piece of data we try to project it on various bodies of knowledge we already have in our heads, and if there is a connection we generate a link between the marker and the existing object.

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18 Replies to “Creativity 101: The power of multiple perspectives”

  1. Virtual landscapes? How interesting. For those of us who are more concrete I wonder about building a “memory palace” with the questions so I could go through them very quickly. Some time also it would be fascinating to understand better what you visualize with your “virtual videogame” constructions, and how you visualize links. I do markers reasonably well but still struggle with links. What do you “see” with a link?

    1. I get some sort of synaesthetic gut feeling, like acceleration, and then I find myself in a new landscape/mindmap. But this is just me.

      1. I’m am just learning about visualisation of this type and have been thinking about the idea using pointers within one memory palace/world to another. So where you need to refer to other data you have a reference to the location where the actual information is stored, you would then include a pointer back to the other world to allow you to easily move between the two. I’ve not come across a situation where I needed to use it yet, so will be interesting to see if it works. It’s very much like the concept of pointers within the C programming language. Is this something you’ve come across and seen work?

  2. how could increase creating images more and more with this excercice because i find myself stuck in 16-18 images from one object

    1. try turning the object in your mind and seeing it from different angle. I use to do creative drawing by rotating the picture or folding the paper in half i would draw the new image i could see out of the old one. keep going from there. I wish i kept some of those drawings..

  3. Can you go into the medium level visualization technique when you take an object and rotate it and the hyperlink method and explain how this could be use used on something like a ball?

    Having a hard time firguring out how this could be used to generate more ideas.

    1. Basically these are memory techniques, that can be adapted for creativity [but were designed for other purposes].
      Hyperlinking is used to access memories from seemingly unconnected areas and associations. Visualization for creativity is more of a focusing/meditative technique that enables surfacing of ideas from sub-conciousness.

  4. Any advice for how to quickly think of various associations? I recently started creativity training and I’ve been primarily just doing this exercise each day.

    I was able to write down 30 associations for “pipe” but it took me 10 minutes to do so.

  5. i’m practicing for almost a week now, i’m using my phone chrono (2min) and i chose a word randomly, the last time i wrote 45 words
    using my PC keyboard i’m used to it so i can wrote quicker, then using a pen where i’m stuck with 35 word per 2 minutes,my method wasn’t the questions but the first relation a have in mind with the previous word and the “subject word”.
    i don’t stop writing (using all the languages i know not wasting time in finding the word in the right one).

    thanks to all of you

    1. Hi Zack,

      Could you elaborate further on what you mean by your method? What do you mean by the first relation with the previous word and the subject word? Thanks.

    2. Basically, you run free associations using the article’s title where each association is a variation of the previous association. This is a valid creativity method, which is typically used for other purposes [creative writing]. Here I suggest to come up with new clusters of ideas, not new variations of the same idea, so I suggest using questions to characterize clusters of ideas.

  6. I’m really having trouble with this exercise. I think part of the reason is I’m not sure how I’m supposed to associate a word with others. Could you give an example of the 40 associations you would write down for a word (i.e. flowers). I think if I can see what types of associations you think of it will help me with this exercise.

    1. Maybe some of the other readers will like to share. I think I demonstrated this occasionally in my webinars. If I make a minicourse on creativity I will demonstrate more.

  7. Thanks for the great article! I was curious what you meant by “as many associations as you can”. Does that mean anything that comes to your mind related tot he word you thought of?

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