The Hourglass Figure, in Discrete Parts
The orange line at the top of the drawing represents your goal. In other words, this starting point dictates your direction and focus to tackle your assignment. This is what we need to accomplish.
Based on your goal, the green dots represent a single piece of information you’ve gathered during the discovery process. Essentially, as you collect information, you read it. You learn it. At the same time, you make decisions about each piece of information. Will it help you achieve your goal? Or, does it lead you in a different direction? In contrast, you may realise it isn’t as relevant as you thought it was when you first found it. It may even not be accurate when put into context with the other information. Step by step, as you continue to make decisions, you reduce the volume of information. You have less information, but more concentrated, like boiling down chicken broth into consommé.
The red circle in the center represents the total concentration of information and knowledge. More specifically, it’s your insight – also known as your fundamental understanding of a particular topic. In the most simple terms, your insight is another way of stating ‘What’s all this information mean?‘ and ‘What does it suggest we do?‘
The insight leads to brainstorming. The best insight inspires an idea – and hopefully another, then another. In fact, each blue line radiating from the insight represent one idea, either good or bad. The greater number of ideas you have, the greater change you will find the best ideas. (See another post on The 90-10 Rule.)
Of all the ideas generated, you select the best ones to refine, hone and adapt into workable solutions. At the bottom of the hour-glass figure, the purple arrows represent these preferred ideas. This final step of refining an idea to implement or take to market is commonly known as innovation.
Creativity versus Strategy
These two types of thinking – creative thinking and strategic thinking – are opposite and complementary. The ‘switch’ between them occurs at the insight, creating the Hourglass Figure.
The top or inverted pyramid is Strategic Thinking, also known as – where information from different sources and knowledge come together, begins to agree, and comes to a common view, opinion or decision.
The bottom or traditional pyramid is Creative Thinking, also known as – where information is dispersed, destroyed, re-imagined, re-combined with other information to create something new or unique.
More importantly, neither way of thinking is the right way of thinking. They’re simply different ways of thinking. Each has a separate and vital purpose.
The difference is important because your brain must switch from one style to the other to be effective. It’s also important to know when you may be applying strategic thinking when you should be being creative, and vice versa. Remember when someone was playing ‘devil’s advocate’ in a brainstorm? Censuring and judging ideas is another way of editing. They were using strategic thinking in a creative solution. Remember when someone kept coming up with ideas when you needed to finalize the right idea for the project? They were using creative thinking in a strategic situation.
What other ways to define Creativity versus Strategy?