Conference: “Get creative“ by Nigel Newman

Do you consider yourself a creative person? I don’t and so I was really looking forward to this first conference, titled “Get Creative” on the 2nd of October. Nigel Newman of the De Bono Foundation talked to us about how to get new ideas, manage and implement them.

Before getting creative, Nigel introduced himself, the Foundation and said a few words about what we had to expect during the afternoon. The Edward De Bono Foundation is “a charity in the teaching of serious creativity and constructive thinking skills” (for more information see ) Established worldwide, the foundation has been developing various courses to learn creative thinking for business and education over the last 35 years.

At the beginning Nigel explained how thinking works: We are probably not aware of it, but a lot of our thinking happens through thinking patterns. To be correct: the excellence of our brain arises directly from its ability to make, organise and use patterns. Just think of everyday life: putting the toothpaste on the right side of the brush, putting the left shoe on the left foot…Sadly these patterns also prevent us from being really creative.

A part of thinking that is usually underestimated is perception. Research by David Perkins at Harvard shows that 90% of errors in thinking are errors of perception not logic. Being creative means to see things slightly different and discover things others don’t see. A marvellous example for that would be Steve Jobs. And not only does the De Bono Foundation believe that, “Doing things differently leads to something exceptional” was a campaign by the ABSOLUTE Company in 2009.

Not only Nigel and Edward De Bono but also many other authors believe that our problem is that we don’t take enough time to think! We have to think slower to even get a chance to get out of our patterns and see things differently. One of Nigel’s favourite books by Guy Claxton has the subtitle: “Why intelligence increases when you think less”. Unfortunately just telling people “think slower!” won’t change anything. So here are 3 techniques to get more intelligent by thinking slower:

  1. The PMI-technique: Direct your attention by not only thinking about the positive (P=plus) and negative (M=minus) aspects of a problem, but don’t forget the interesting (I) points that come along with it. That’s actually the way post-it’s were invented. People saw the interesting aspect of glue that would not stick and developed a best-seller!
  2. The OPV-technique (other peoples’ views): just use more than your 2 own eyes, just image how something would affect the life of a child, an animal, an elderly person, an environmentalist….
  3. The six hats, a technique developed by Edward De Bono: In order to manage your creative thinking, just wear the 6 hats one after another (which is what Nigel literally did).

The green hat is the most important one: think about possibilities, the interesting part of your thoughts.

At this stage he made us be creative on our own, think apply the techniques he had talked about, just imagine that a new law came into force which says that all cars must be painted yellow,…? And he also told us stories or rather tales of how people solved problems by being creative, and gave us a Chinese horse puzzle (, or told us to try to fit our whole body through a hole in an A4 sheet of paper. (This works!)

As Nigel already mentioned patterns are important for the human brain, so why not use some methods to come up with something creative? For example:

–       Combination Thinking: Don’t we all love our smartphones? Some years ago someone came up with the crazy idea of combining the mobile phone with other functions, adding a camera. And that turned out great!

–       Wishful Thinking: What do you wish to happen? Maybe these things somehow could be realized? Years ago students must have been thinking “Wouldn’t it be nice, if we could get our food directly delivered to our accommodation” and now, we can order at Tesco online and get it unpacked at our kitchen table if we want.

–       Stop-Keep-Start Method: What should for example supermarkets do? Stop giving away plastic bags, keep offering a delivery service and start having around multilingual staff.

But being creative doesn’t stop once you have an idea! Here’s a plan what to do:

  1. Share the idea
  2. Nurture it
  3. Make a plan for action

In conclusion I can say that all my expectations were fulfilled. I did not only realize why I’m usually not creative, but also did I get to know some methods how to change that. And not to forget: I really enjoyed how Nigel told us these little stories and gave us some puzzles and riddles.

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