A common misconception is that creativity is a gift you are born with. People believe that if they don’t have it right from birth, they have missed their opportunity to ever be creative. This is just not true.
The reality is that creativity is a skill that anyone can learn. It can be developed all throughout our lives. The way to do so is to adopt a pattern or method. These are structured processes that help us learn to be more creative and apply that skill as innovators.
What we must understand is that most innovation in the world can be explained by five patterns. However, you don’t need to be an expert at all five of them to be an innovator. If you could just master one or two of them, you’d be well on your way to generating high-quality ideas. You will begin to innovate consistently and systematically.
One of those five patterns is the division technique. Division is simply chopping a problem down to size. However, it goes beyond chunking the problem to actually rearranging it. The division technique is all about cutting or dividing, and then rearranging, a problem.
In the division technique, you must first list the components of the product, service, or other thing you are trying to innovate. Then, take each component and divide it in one of three ways.
The first type of division is functional division. In this method, you take the function of a component, cut it out of the system, and place it back somewhere else.
The second type of division is physical division. In this method, you take an actual piece of the component, cut it out, and rearrange it in some new way.
The third type of division is called preserving division. In this method, you cut the component down into smaller versions of itself, like a cupcake is a smaller version of a big cake.
Once you have gone through one of your components and rearranged the product, stop and visualize it. Think about what you’ve really done and ask yourself some questions about it. Ask if you should do it (is there a benefit to rearranging the product in this way and can it deliver real value)? Then ask yourself if you can do it (is it feasible, legal, and viable)?
When performing the division technique, you should be aware of some common pitfalls. First, you have to make sure you do the rearrangement part of the technique in one of two ways. Either rearrange a part of the component into a new physical location or into a new time. You must also realize that you’re going to encounter structural fixedness, making it very hard to visualize a new structure we’re not used to. Be ready for this and even look out for it. Finally, don’t forget to use all three types of division: physical, functional, and preserving.
Mastering the division technique will allow you to break out of fixedness and become more creative. If you’ve been told all your life that you aren’t creative, listen in to this week’s episode of Innovation Inside The Box to discover how you actually can develop that skill.
To learn more about how to increase your creative potential and break fixedness, listen to the full podcast episode here: Episode 003: Divide and Conquer – How to Use the Division Technique.