10 Steps to Unlock Your Creativity

by Barbara Martin

in Creativity, Creativity at Work, How to Tips

If you haven’t read the old 80’s era creativity book, A Whack on the Side of the Head: How to Unlock your Mind For Innovation by Silicon Valley creativity guru Roger von Oech, you should. As von Oech describes it, the book explains how you can engage in mental sex – meaning “sex of our mental lives” (sheesh) as a way to generate new ideas.

What you really get is ten timeless approaches to freeing your brain so it can think in new, innovative ways. The methods von Oech outlines are deceptive in that they are simple to understand but not so simple to implement. They require that we recognize and purposely circumvent certain routine mental locks or limits we all seem to accept without question.

In other words, according to von Oech: “We need the ability to unlearn what we know.”

The lynchpin of the book is that “getting whacked” is an awakening so you suddenly discover a new thought path, in a direction you wouldn’t have ventured before.

von Oech’s Ten Mental Locks:

The Right Answer
That’s Not Logical
Follow the Rules
Be Practical
Avoid Ambiguity
To Err is Wrong
Play is Frivolous
That’s Not My Area
Don’t Be Foolish
I’m Not Creative

I am hard pressed to pick a so-called favorite from this list. Do you have one?

As long as you’re here, won’t you sign up for the ambitious newsletter I’m putting together coming soon in October — the sign up form is over there —->


Michelle Russell September 17, 2009 at 7:13 pm

Oh HO!!! I recognize “To Err is Wrong,” yes I do!

And yes, I agree with von Oech (erm, bless you?) that these are simple to understand but not easy to implement. The hardest part, for me, is probably catching myself in the moment as I’m running up against one of those mental blocks. Because they’re so darn habitual.

And it looks like he plagiarized Spock for #2 on the list. :o)

christine martell September 17, 2009 at 7:32 pm

The creative whack pack is so timeless and useful. I have it on my iphone, and often use it when waiting in line. It makes a previously annoying moment entertaining every time.

Barbara Martin September 17, 2009 at 10:47 pm

@Michelle Of COURSE you would like the error-oriented choice!! I guess you’ll just have to consider yourself wacked. (that sounds a bit odd, but whatever) LOL

@Christine OOOOh. The Whack Pack!! You mean you have the Innovative Whack Pack on YOUR PHONE?! wow

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