The Innovation Blog

Wake Up Your Creative Side: Skill #1 Approximate Thinking

Posted by Creative Realities on September 3, 2010

Skill #1: Approximate Thinking

Learning that you don't have to be right, right away.

From the age of 5, we have been taught that there is a right answer and a wrong answer.  Our goal has always been to be “right.”  But the real-world is not “black or white.”  It is a wonderful Technicolor world with multiple possibilities. 

The first key skill of brainstorming is to “Ban the Bazooka!” – to put aside your judgmental self, and free your mind up to as many “beginning ideas” as possible.  It’s called “divergence” and is the key period where we force ourselves to remove all censorship and evaluation and just let ideas flow.


To stretch our thinking and develop as many ideas or thoughts as possible, without judging or self-censoring.


  1. Defer judgment.  Brainstorm now, evaluate later.
  2. Look for lots of ideas (quantity counts).
  3. Accept all ideas (You don’t have to like them, but even the most absurd may trigger the big, new thought!).
  4. Make yourself STRETCH for ideas – push for the absurd.
  5. Go fast.  The faster you go, the less time you have to censor.
  6. Be wishful.  The phrase “I wish…” has power in it’s lack of need for a definitive solution.
  7. Build on earlier thoughts or thoughts of others.
  8. Incorporate stimulus.  Anything you know, you think, you see, or sense can help trigger new thoughts.
divergent and convergent thinking

Later - pick out the best, the newest, the most intriguing and develop them. Nothing has to be killed, just pick what you like as though you are picking froma  tray of hors d'oevres.


  1. A range of new thoughts you would not have had before
  2. A growing comfort with being approximate rather than right
  3. A skill that grows through practice

Topics: convergent thinking, divergent thinking, ban the bazooka, approximate thinking