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A framework for creative thinking.

Financial professionals are often considered the guardians of traditional practices and methods. But many of us are now called on to drive breakthrough ideas and results for our companies or clients. How can we break free of our traditional thought patterns and consider new ideas and patterns? In his book, Think Better,Tim Hurson encourages us to do just that by following his Creative Problem Solving (CPS) thinking model, a consistent, repeatable process that spurs creative ideas.

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CPS encourages its users to separate thinking about a particular problem into two distinct sections: divergent and convergent thinking. Divergent thinking requires the user to think of many different and creative ideas about the problem. Convergent thinking then forces the user to determine the few key ideas or connections between ideas that solve the problem best. While this idea seems simple in theory, Hurson provides several enlightening stories to illustrate his point, demonstrating why a framework for thinking is crucial. One example is the story called "Elephant Tether," which shows how NASA engineers were tethered by their own models for technological superiority when working to design a pen that could write properly in zero gravity. Russian space engineers solved the same problem without a tether by giving their cosmonauts pencils.

The CPS model can lead to breakthrough ideas through creative thought. Hurson skillfully outlines how today's focus on incremental improvement, or "kaizen," can create strong patterns that prohibit creative thought. Many finance professionals will undoubtedly see their own organizations reflected in Hurson's kaizen discussion and identify with the extra focus on kaizen instead of breakthrough ideas. Hurson then introduces the concept of "tenkaizen," or reproductive revolution, to drive the concept of breakthrough thought home to the reader. He devotes a chapter to the power of remaining in the question or problem at hand. By demonstrating how many people are satisfied with the first answer that appears "good enough" and stop thinking about alternatives, Hurson shows how such thinking can limit the quality of ideas and solutions. Hurson goes on to outline how the use of the simple word "else" can stimulate ideas and connections beyond the initial thoughts. Such ideas, called "third third" ideas, can produce such ideas as a supply company hiring blind workers to solve the problem of lost productivity from reading the newsprint used to cushion glass shipments. For many readers, these concepts and discussions will demonstrate how the focus on decision-making speed hinders our ability to find the truly innovative or creative ideas.

Hurson goes into detail about the individual steps of the CPS model. He first takes readers through the divergent thinking process to focus on generating many unique ideas. Then convergent thinking takes over to evaluate the ideas critically and determine which are the best. Hurson liberally sprinkles examples to illustrate the power behind his ideas. While the stories do become somewhat repetitive, they provide ample opportunity to connect his concepts to individual circumstances.

The CPS model provides a systematic method to generate many new ideas and focus on those generating the highest value. In an age where professionals are required to "think better," Hurson's CPS model and the insight developed through his consulting work provide an intuitive, repeatable process to generate new and better ideas in all aspects of your business and personal life.--Dallon Christensen, CMA, CFM, CPA.CITP,

Dallon@BeaconBusinessConsulting.com
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Title Annotation:BOOKS
Author:Christensen, Dallon
Publication:Strategic Finance
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2009
Words:559
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