Definition of "heuristic": A rule of thumb that often helps in solving a certain class of problems, but makes no guarantees.

An example of a heuristic in business: "What gets measured gets done." This is useful advice in that it points us in a potentially productive direction. It suggests that if we want action on our organizational priorities, we should consider stating those priorities in measurable terms and tracking our progress. But, of course, it does not guarantee that we will always be successful.

Heuristics for DirectedCreativity in Business

Research indicates that heuristics are key to good thinking; whether we are trying to be creative, play chess, or do successful business planning. Good thinkers do not necessarily think harder, longer, or more exactly; they have simply learned to think in directions that are more likely to be productive.

The heuristic "rules of thumb" in the table below are based on a modern understanding of how the mind works as a adaptive, self-organizing patterning system; as well as on the practical experience of seasoned creative thinkers.


Basic Heuristics for Getting Started in DirectedCreativity

  1. Make it a habit to purposefully pause and notice things.
  2. Focus your creative energies on just a few topic areas that you genuinely care about and work on these purposefully for several weeks or months.
  3. Avoid being too narrow in the way you define your problem or topic area; purposefully try broader definitions and see what insights you gain.
  4. Try to come up with original and useful ideas by making novel associations among what you already know.
  5. When you need creative ideas, remember: attention, escape, and movement.
  6. Pause and carefully examine ideas that make you laugh the first time you hear them.
  7. Recognize that your streams of thought and patterns of judgment are not inherently right or wrong; they are just what you think now based primarily on patterns from your past.
  8. Make a deliberate effort to harvest, develop, and implement at least a few of the ideas you generate.


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