To reach your right brain; work with the left

Product professionals will tell you they like generating “new ideas” – executives will tell you they need products that sell. End goal: think creatively and identify salable, profitable new products or services, right?

I’ve come across several articles on innovation, releasing a cascade of ideas. Here’s one from Betty Edwards, art instructor and author. She knows something rich about how we arrive at creative thinking. Betty says creativity happens in stages as we intentionally move back and forth between the two sides of our brain. It doesn’t matter if we naturally favor the right or left hemisphere; what matters is optimally using both. We can learn to do this consciously.

She found that at certain points in the creative process, we must suppress our left brain activities (verbal/analytic) in favor of the right (visual/perceptual). The goal-oriented left hemisphere may impede our ability to see the gestalt (whole picture), thus stifling our creativity.

Betty’s stages do not map 100% to innovation or new product development processes, nor should they. They offer a general guide or road map, an interesting key to the creative process.

Stage 1: define the problem – this is left side thinking. Immerse yourself in what is already known, create lists, sort; prioritize, evaluate.  SATURATE

Stage 2: walk away, back-burner your ideas, get away – this is “mulling” a right side activity. INCUBATE

This “noodling” activity leads to the OMG/eureka moment, or Stage 3 – rarely a planned right side activity. When it happens to me (typically on a walk) I use my phone to text myself, or I lose these thought-threads.  ILLUMINATE

This returns us to left thinking and Stage 4:  Test, validate, evaluate, use scoring models. Does the idea survive the brutal light of market need?   No problem, not every idea is a good one.  VALIDATE

Your right brain observes. Don’t switch to the left too early. Testing for validity (left brain activity) happens at the end of the creative process and not during ideation.

Try this:

About prdmkgblackbelt

UConn MBA - GO Lady Huskies! UGA Mom, quasi geek, techno-catalyst, NPDP, PrdMktg, reads Campbell & Covey, black belt from Hoshido. Loves sunrises; believes sunsets are promises.
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3 Responses to To reach your right brain; work with the left

  1. Giles Farrow says:

    Very interesting. I have found myself doing something like this without realizing it was left brain vs right brain.

    Like most people, most of my day-to-day work is at my desk on my computer, but there are times when I find it helps to change that.

    For tough decisions, I like to walk. Even if it’s just going to make tea / coffee. No screen helps me see the big picture.

    For new ideas, a blank sheet of paper and a pencil are great – and depending on the weather being outdoors.

    I realized I was deliberately shaping my thing style, I thought it was about distractions, but it’s probably left vs right brain

    • So now that you know, you’ll be able to get to that creative place faster! I find a dose of sunshine or just plain outdoors does wonders for me as well. My best thinking was done walking on a windy, rocky beach during the winter. Betty Edwards’ stages make it easier to see how we naturally do this. As always, appreciate the dialog. Cheers!

  2. Pingback: To reach your right brain; work with the left | Better Business |

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