Sunday, January 4, 2009

HOW TO IMPROVE MEMORY some techniques...

1. Memory itself probably cannot be developed; however, improvement in remembering comes from correcting certain habits or thoughts so that we use our memory to its fullest potential. Remembering is like seeing; improvement in either function does not depend upon how much we use it but, rather, how we use it.

2. The first and most important rule for remembering is: cultivate the habit of close attention to the thing you wish to remember. Be sure you have a clear, sharp impression of the face, name, date, or facts, which you will need to know at a future time. If you wish to remember a fact, make it meaningful to you.

3. When we are learning, we should try not only to get a strong impression but also to obtain as many different kinds of impressions as possible. Some people can remember colors distinctly, but have a poor memory for shapes. But anyone, by putting together and using all of the impressions our sense organs bring us about a thing, can remember it much more clearly than if we rely on sight or sound alone. For example, try reading your lesson aloud. In doing this, your eye takes in the appearance of the printed word, your ear passes the sound of the words to your brain, and even the tension of the muscle of your throat add their bit to the total impression which your mind is expected to store away.

4. Try to visualize it. Either remember a diagram or a picture of the material to be remembered, or take short notes about it, which you can visualize.

5. Intend to remember. The mere intention to remember puts the mind in a condition to remember, and if you will make use of this fact in studying you will be able to recall between 20 and 60 percent more of what you read and hear than you would if you were not actively trying to remember.

6. Think about it. A fact doesn't belong to you until you have used it. In making use of this principle, plan to spend not more than one-half of your study period in reading your lesson. Use the other half in doing something with what you learn. Think about what you have studied, write down notes on it, and explain it to somebody else.

7. Logical memory. One of the most important of all aids to the remembering process is the habit of associating a new idea immediately with facts or ideas that are already firmly lodged in the mind. This association revives and strengthens the old memories and prevents the new one form slipping away by anchoring it to the well-established framework of your mental world.

8. Remembering by brute force. We will forget more, on the average, during the first hour after learning that during the next 24 hours; and we will forget more, on the average, during the first day than we will during the next thirty days. Whatever is left after thirty days time, we will probably be able to hold on to without much further loss for years to come.

9. Reviewing is much more effective if carried out before memories have entirely escaped than it is after considerable time has elapsed. Repetitions should be strung out over as long a time as is available. We remember better if we pause a little between periods of study.

10. How much study? You should study more than enough to learn your assignment. Experiments have proven that 50% more resulted in 50% better retention. After a week had passed, it was found that extra work had salvaged six times as much of the material as in the case when it was barely learned.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Creativity Tools for Problem Solving

The creative tools can help you to become more creative. They are designed to help you devise creative and imaginative solutions to problems, and help you to spot opportunities that you might otherwise miss.

Before you continue, it is important to understand what we mean by creativity, as there are two completely different types. The first is technical creativity, where people create new theories, technologies or ideas. This is the type of creativity we discuss here. The second is artistic creativity, which is more born of skill, technique and self-expression. Artistic creativity is beyond the scope of these articles.

Many of the techniques have been used by great thinkers to drive their creativity. Albert Einstein, for example, used his own informal variant of Provocation to trigger ideas that lead to the Theory of Relativity.

Approaches to CreativityThere are two main strands to technical creativity: programmed thinking and lateral thinking. Programmed thinking relies on logical or structured ways of creating a new product or service. Example of this approach is Morphological Analysis.

The other main strand uses 'Lateral Thinking'. Examples of this are Brain Storming, Forced Relationships and Provocation. Lateral Thinking has been developed and popularized by Edward de Bono.

It is important to point out that each type of approach has its strength. Logical, disciplined thinking is enormously effective in making products and services better. It can, however, only go so far before all practical improvements have been carried out. Lateral thinking can generate completely new concepts and ideas, and brilliant improvements to existing systems. In the wrong place, however, it can be sterile or unnecessarily disruptive.

Taking the best of each...

A number of techniques fuse the strengths of the two different strands of creativity. Techniques such as the Concept Fan use a combination of programmed and lateral thinking. DO IT and Simplex embed the two approaches within problem solving processes. While these may be considered 'overkill' when dealing with minor problems, they provide excellent frame works for solving difficult and serious ones.

The Creative Frame of MindOften the only difference between creative and uncreative people is self-perception. Creative people see themselves as creative and give themselves the freedom to create. Uncreative people do not think about creativity and do not give themselves the opportunity to create anything new.

Being creative may just be a matter of setting aside the time needed to take a step back and allow yourself to ask yourself if there is a better way of doing something. Edward de Bono calls this a 'Creative Pause'. He suggests that this should be a short break of maybe only 30 seconds, but that this should be a habitual part of thinking. This needs self-discipline, as it is easy to forget.

Another important attitude-shift is to view problems as opportunities for improvement. While this is something of a cliché, it is true. Whenever you solve a problem, you have a better product or service to offer afterwards.

Using CreativityCreativity is sterile if action does not follow from it. Ideas must be evaluated, improved, polished and marketed before they have any value. You have to learn the time and stress management techniques which needed when your creative ideas take off.

10 steps for Maintaining your Creativity

  1. Listen to music. It will help to increase creativity.
  2. Brainstorm. If properly carried out, brainstorming can help you not only come up with sacks full of new ideas, but can help you decide which is best.
  3. Always carry a small notebook and a pen or pencil around with you. If you are struck by an idea, you can quickly note it down. About 90% of your ideas are draft. Don't worry, that's normal. What's important are the 10% that are brilliant.
  4. If you're stuck for an idea, open a dictionary, randomly select a word and then try to formulate ideas incorporating this word. You'd be surprised how well this works. The concept is based on a simple but little known truth: freedom inhibits creativity.
  5. Define your problem. Grab a sheet of paper, electronic notebook, computer or whatever you use to make notes, and define your problem in detail. You'll probably find ideas positively spewing out once you've done this.
  6. If you can't think, go for a walk. A change of atmosphere is good for you and gentle exercise helps shake up the brain cells.
  7. Don't watch TV. Experiments performed by the Creative Laboratory show that watching TV causes brain to slowly trickle out ears and/or nose. It's not pretty, but it happens.
  8. Don't do drugs. People on drugs think they are creative. To everyone else, they seem like people on drugs.
  9. Read as much as you can about everything possible. Books exercise your brain, provide inspiration and fill you with information that allows you to make creative connections easily.
  10. Exercise your brain. Brains, like bodies, need exercise to keep fit. If you don't exercise your brain, it will get flabby and useless. Exercise your brain by reading a lot, talking to clever people and disagreeing with people - arguing can be a terrific way to give your brain cells a workout.


There are often prevailing negative forces that keep us from realizing our full potential of creative abilities.

1. External Factors:

That affect your ability to perform creatively include perceptions. You have about things that go on around us, and organization protocols at work.
Routine procedures are often established by companies to structure and stream line operations, which adversely impact the individual’s creativity over the period.
Procedures, co-worker attitudes can hinder your freedom to think creatively.

2. Internal Factors:

That threaten your creativity include psychological and mental attributes, such as the degree to which you are open minded or self confident.
A positive outlook and a healthy sense of well-being motivate to be more creative, and dare to open to new experiences.
Most individuals find that they have much more control over the internal factors than over the external ones.
If you take the time to understand and master the issues that create internal conflict, you can affect a tremendous change in your personal creativity.

3. Fear of Failure:

From childhood, people learn that success is rewarded, and failure is punished.
This implicit message can be very debilitating, as many adults develop an exaggerated fear of failure. For some, the fear of failure can serve as a mobilizing force, impelling them to succeed.
More often, however, this fear makes them avoid taking risks and shy away from competitive situations.
This often paralyzing force keeps us from working to our potential.
The more creative you are, the more you will periodically re-evaluate the worth of all existing practices.
And the more you improve existing operations, the more creative you will feel. Creativity begets creativity.

4. Cultural Blocks:

“Most of us have been taught that it’s wrong to do things or look at things differently. As a result, we loose confidence in ourselves and begin to look at reality only in terms of the categories by which society orders it”.
Modern civilization seems to have been designed to dull our sensibilities. The ability to dream fanciful things, to imagine the impossible and to fantasize is so abundant in childhood.
As we develop toward adulthood, these flights of fancy are starved and stop day dreaming, stick to the facts, behave like an adult, and be rational.
The best antidote to a cultural block is a pro-active approach. Actively question conventions and habits, analyze your own strengths and weaknesses, be aware of the resources in your environment.
Throw all wild ideas on to the table. You never know which idea will provide the seed from which an innovative solution can ultimately grow.

5. Premature Judgment:

The creative mind visualizes, and generates ideas. The judicial mind analyses the problems, compares the recognized options and chooses a solution.
Many of us have a tendency to evaluate too quickly, uttering an automatic “ no “ to any idea which may be even slightly off-beat or risky.
Take your time during brain-storming or problem solving, and don’t be too hasty to reach a conclusion. Every idea should be considered equally viable until the contrary is proved later.
Some suggestions initially rejected as impossible turnout to be the source of dramatic innovations.

6. Rigidity:

Rigid people take a formula approach to life, and fail to adapt, even through “exceptions to the rule” are constantly presenting themselves.
It is a functional fixedness, where by you fail to see alternative uses for things, beyond those uses for which they were originally intended.
A passionate set of pre conceived beliefs that are often un-wanted by actual information shuts more doors than it opens.

7. Imaginary boundaries:

Many of us run into trouble during creative brain-storming because we impose too many boundaries and constraints on the process.
Rules and restrictions that we carry with us can certainly inhibit creativity and the free flow ideas.

8. Perceptual blocks:

Habits also hamper creative problem solving. The more familiar the situation or object, the harder it is to see it differently.
Many of us fail to use all of our senses during observation.
Whenever behaviors become automatic, when we take objects too much for granted, we no longer truly observe.
Recognizing any problem is only half the battle. The more familiar the situation is, the harder it is to see it from a fresh perspective.
Once we fall victims to habitual ways of visualizing, our creativity suffers.

9. Emotional Blocks:

“Thinking is emotional”, when we face a difficult situation our great reaction often comes from an emotional response.
As with fear of failure, certain emotional responses can keep us from realizing our full creative potential.

10. Change in motivation:

A person’s motivation is the result of many forces, including upbringing, education, job function, ambition and self confidence.
Attention must be geared towards fostering healthy and creative motivations, while insidious or divisive ones must be weeded out.
An awareness or understanding is only the first step. Next, you must identify the specific aspects of your life or behaviors patterns that call for change.
You should map out specific steps you will take in your day-to-day activities, to become more adventuresome or creative.

Provocation - Carrying Out Thought Experiments

Provocation is an important lateral thinking technique. Just like Random Input, it works by moving your thinking out of the established patterns that you use to solve problems.

As explained earlier, we think by recognizing patterns and reacting to them. These reactions come from our past experiences and logical extensions to those experiences. Often we do not think outside these patterns. While we may know the answer as part of a different type of problem, the structure of our brains makes it difficult for us to link this in.

Provocation is one of the tools we use to make links between these patterns.
We use it by making deliberately stupid statements (Provocations), in which something we take for granted about the situation is not true. Statements need to be stupid to shock our minds out of existing ways of thinking. Once we have made a provocative statement, we then suspend judgment and use that statement to generate ideas. Provocations give us original starting points for creative thinking.
As an example, we could make a statement that 'Houses should not have roofs'. Normally this would not be a good idea! However this leads one to think of houses with opening roofs, or houses with glass roofs. These would allow you to lie in bed and look up at the stars.

Once you have made the Provocation, you can use it in a number of different ways,
by examining:
The consequences of the statement What the benefits would be What special circumstances would make it a sensible solution The principles needed to support it and make it work How it would work moment-to-moment What would happen if a sequence of events was changed Etc.
You can use this list as a checklist.

Edward de Bono has developed and popularise use of Provocation by using the word 'Po'. 'Po' stands for 'Provocative operation'. As well as laying out how to use Provocation effectively, he suggests that when we make a Provocative statement in public the label it as such with 'Po' (e.g. 'Po: the earth is flat'). This does rely on all members of your audience knowing about Provocation!

As with other lateral thinking techniques, Provocation does not always produce good or relevant ideas. Often, though, it does. Ideas generated using Provocation is likely to be fresh and original.
High points:
Provocation is an important lateral thinking technique that helps to generate original starting points for creative thinking.

Brainstorming - Generating many radical and useful ideas

Brainstorming is a useful and popular tool that you can use to develop highly creative solutions to a problem.

It is particularly useful when you need to break out of stale, established patterns of thinking, so that you can develop new ways of looking at things. This can be when you need to develop new opportunities, where you want to improve the service that you offer, or when existing approaches just aren't giving you the results you want.

Brainstorming is particularly useful when used with your team: Here it helps you bring the experience of all team members into play during problem solving

This increases the richness of solutions explored (meaning that you can find better solutions to the problems you face, and make better decisions.) It can also help you get buy in from team members for the solution chosen - after all, they have helped shape that solution.

Brainstorming and Lateral Thinking:

Brainstorming is a lateral thinking process. It asks that people come up with ideas and thoughts that seem at first to be a bit shocking or crazy. You can then change and improve them into ideas that are useful, and often stunningly original.

During brainstorming sessions there should therefore be no criticism of ideas: You are trying to open up possibilities and break down wrong assumptions about the limits of the problem. Judgments and analysis at this stage will stunt idea generation.

Ideas should only be evaluated at the end of the brainstorming session - you can then explore solutions further using conventional approaches.

If your ideas begin to dry up, you can 'seed' the session with, for example, a random word.

Individual Brainstorming:

When you brainstorm on your own you will tend to produce a wider range of ideas than with group brainstorming - you do not have to worry about other people's egos or opinions, and can therefore be more freely creative. You may not, however, develop ideas as effectively as you do not have the experience of a group to help you.

Group Brainstorming:

Group brainstorming can be very effective as it uses the experience and creativity of all members of the group. When individual members reach their limit on an idea, another member's creativity and experience can take the idea to the next stage. Therefore, group brainstorming tends to develop ideas in more depth than individual brainstorming.
Brainstorming in a group can be risky for individuals. Valuable but strange suggestions may appear stupid at first sight. Because of such, you need to chair sessions tightly so that uncreative people do not crush these ideas and leave group members feeling humiliated.

Encourage people to run a group brainstorming session effectively, do the following:
Define the problem you want solved clearly, and lay out any criteria to be met;
Keep the session focused on the problem;
Ensure that no one criticizes or evaluates ideas during the session. Criticism introduces an element of risk for group members when putting forward an idea. This stifles creativity and cripples the free running nature of a good brainstorming session;
Encourage an enthusiastic, uncritical attitude among members of the group. Try to get everyone to contribute and develop ideas, including the quietest members of the group;
Let people have fun brainstorming. Encourage them to come up with as many ideas as possible, from solidly practical ones to wildly impractical ones. Welcome creativity;
Ensure that no train of thought is followed for too long
to develop other people's ideas, or to use other ideas to create new ones ; and
Appoint one person to note down ideas that come out of the session. A good way of doing this is to use a flip chart. This should be studied and evaluated after the session.
Where possible, participants in the brainstorming process should come from as wide a range of disciplines as possible. This brings a broad range of experience to the session and helps to make it more creative.

And again, it's worth exploring the use of computer-based tools for group brainstorming. As long as you're reasonably quick with keyboard and mouse, these significantly improve the quality and effectiveness of a brainstorming session.

High Points:
Brainstorming is a great way of generating radical ideas. During the brainstorming process there is no criticism of ideas, as free rein is given to people's creativity (criticism and judgment cramp creativity.) This often makes group brainstorming sessions enjoyable experiences, which are great for bringing team members together.

Individual brainstorming is best for generating many ideas, but tends to be less effective at developing them. Group brainstorming tends to develop fewer ideas, but takes each idea further. Group brainstorming needs formal rules for it to work smoothly.

Thursday, January 31, 2008




There are two main strands of technical creativity:
Programmed thinking and lateral thinking.
Programmed thinking relies on logical or structured ways of creativity. Lateral thinking is approaching in a novel way.


Amongst the many marvels of the functioning of the brain, is the interplay between its two hemispheres: the right and left.
While both function together and we experience a combination of right-left hemisphere, there is a tendency for one hemisphere to be dominant.
With the knowledge of how we use our brain, we are better able to use the style of learning most effective for us.

The left hemisphere is responsible for our facility with language, Both written and spoken;
Our sense of numericals.
The linear process.
It is responsible for our ability to converge to a decision and be able to support it with sound reason.
It facilities our ability to analyze, i.e. breaking complex matters into simpler units.
The control of our right hand & Right organs.
It seeks to be discreet, specific and logical.


The right hemisphere which controls and directs our left hand & left organs.
Bringing disparate thoughts into unison.
It processes in a non-linear fashion therefore making it difficult to trace back step by step, what really happened.
This makes us appreciate art and music,
Rendering us culturally alive.
The magical facility of imagination,
Creativity and being able to indulge in humor comes to life here.

We require contributions from both, the right and left modes.


  • Problem Sensitivity
  • Idea Fluency
  • Originality
  • Flexibility
  • Drive


1. Develop a creative mental attitude:
Gaining confidence that you can become more creative is the first important step.
Creative thinking demands application and a positive self image. You have the belief in what you are trying to do and you have to believe in yourself. “You are what you think are you and you can do what you think can you do”. Begin approaching a problem with the belief that somehow will solve it. You may not exactly know how at the start, but just the belief will help you find the solution.

2. Unlock your imaginations:
Human brains have four functional areas:
Receptors: to receive signals from out side.
Storage: that files these sensations, where from facts and emotions can be recalled.
Judgmental area: that evaluates the information received the help us make decisions.
Imagination area: that combines the old and new information in novel ways.
It has been found that most of us use imagination area too little and the judgment area too much.

How can we unlock the door to our ‘imagination’?
Begin by learning to ask “Why”? More often, also what? When? Where? And How?
To exercise an unused imagination, play ‘thinking games: for example, how many uses for an ordinary brick can you think of? Try jotting down your ideas for three minutes.

3. Develop an open mind:
We are restricted by tunnel vision when trying to solve a problem We ourselves impose too many imaginary boundaries and constraints. Overcome fixed ideas, try new ways. Attempt to find not only one solution but several and develop the ability to allow on idea in favors of another. Develop as many as possible alternate solutions.
Develop open mind, it means being receptive of ideas from any source.

4. Suspend your judgment:
It has been found that our judgment grows with years while creativity dwindles unless consciously kept up. Also when we are deliberately hunting for ideas, as our judgments grows imagination declines. To become more creative we have not only to unlock imagination but also to suppress our judgment faculty especially in the early stages of solving a problem.

5. Set problem boundaries:
Setting boundaries should precede all attempts to solve it. Having problem specifications do not limit creativity, rather they focus it. Big problems should be split into many little ones an tackled individually. The most important point is that a time boundary must be set, the time period within which a solution must be found.

6. Tap your subconscious:
Our subconscious mind is compared to the invisible 90% of an iceberg. It shows that only a small portion of our mental powers is at our disposal. In the memory cells at the back of our mind may be dozens of facts and associations that you have completely forgotten and so have not brought into use in solving particular problems. But they are still there in the subconscious mind. They may come out to help you to find solutions to your problems.
Subconscious mind processes our problems, wrestles with them and compares them with other solutions stored deep in the memory. Moreover, a subconsciously processed idea is better because it will have the benefit of all the experience and knowledge you have accumulated in your life time. After having spent time looking for ideas, making them larger or smaller, turning them upside or down, inside or out or combining old ones with new ones and still if you have not come up with the solution, now is the time to let go off the problem and allow your subconscious to work on it.
Divert yourself by reading a novel, playing a game of chess or cards, hearing music, or even by taking a nap. Your subconscious mind will find a solution.

7. Day dreaming improves creativity:
Day dreaming promotes relaxation and enables you to think better. When you are relaxed, the mind is free to explore ideas and works more efficiently. Creative thinking, problem solving, decision making and idea generation are all enhanced.
In fact the best ideas come at the relaxed moments of day dreaming.