The Calculated Creative

5 Creative Habits of Mind That Challenge Convention

By deliberately adopting these habits, you can think both constructively to unlock greater creative potential within yourself and your teams.


Conforming to mainstream assumptions hinders creativity.

We reflexively rely on entrenched mental models that confirm pre-existing beliefs.

This traps thinking in rigid boxes that recycle the same conventional ideas.

But we can break free by deliberately questioning orthodoxy.

Embracing unorthodox perspectives sparks visionary breakthroughs.

Here are 5 thought patterns that can spark visionary ideas by deliberately opposing mainstream thinking:

1. Question Assumptions

Ask "what if" everything you took for granted was completely wrong. Challenge any preconceived notions, received wisdom, and expert consensus opinions. Disagree constructively with established beliefs to stretch your thinking. Identify and scrutinize unstated assumptions that drive your own viewpoints. Be willing to jettison fundamental premises if they lack rigorous support, even if this means dismantling entire arguments. Exercise skepticism rather than blind deference towards conventional wisdom.

2. Be Contrarian

Take the opposing viewpoint and argue against your own most cherished ideas. Being a constructive devil’s advocate pressures you to confront the flaws, weaknesses, and biases in your reasoning. It compels you to find creative counter-examples that disprove what you currently believe is true. Developing intelligent critiques make your ideas more robust and defensible. Refusing to fall prey to confirmation bias forces better solutions.

3. Seek Dissenting Perspectives

Talk extensively to people with radically different worldviews and unconventional opinions. Welcome diversity of thought, ideological diversity, and even irrational criticisms. Digesting a variety of outlier perspectives provides valuable friction for provoking paradigm shifts. Listen closely for any merit amidst the most extreme or ignorant dissent. Remain open and patient with harsh personal critiques, as ad hominem attacks can still highlight blindspots. The criticism itself matters more than its source.

4. Connect Unlikely Fields

Import insightful analogies from vastly different disciplines to gain new outlooks on familiar problems. Blend right-brain creative concepts from the arts with left-brain analytical approaches from sciences. Fuse intuition with rigor and imagination with logic across fields. Follow curiosity down unexpected tangents without concern for practical application yet. Cross-pollinate ideas broadly, even bizarrely. Hybrid thinking drives serendipity and breakthrough innovation.

5. Suspend Judgment

When ideas initially emerge, entertain wild what-if explorations without prejudice. Be open to imagining improbable scenarios and fantastical solutions, before rational skepticism kills them prematurely. Let your thoughts flow freely without filters first to maximize novelty and variability. Evaluate later during a separate phase once you've captured a large diversity of options. Separate generative imagination from critical analysis. Prematurely dismissing fringe concepts truncates possibilities. Suspending disbelief expands your opportunity horizon.


The Takeaway

The most disruptive innovations invariably provoke skepticism at first, since they challenge entrenched mental models.

By deliberately adopting these habits, you can think both constructively to unlock greater creative potential within yourself and your teams.

Question received wisdom, invite dissent, and broaden inputs to spark breakthroughs.

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