Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Creative Thinking - Interview with Sandy Sims

Sandy Sims, an ex Navy Officer and a business school graduate, is the author of the fascinating book, Creative Thinking For The 21st Century, An Experiential Guidebook.

Yvonne: Welcome, Sandy. What is your definition of Creative Thinking?
Sandy: First of all there are probably over a hundred different models for creativity and my statements are based upon trying out a non-linear manifestation model and reporting on the results. The primary reason I have referred to these as thinking patterns for the 21st century is that we are being forced to seek new ways to exist. Technology increases the number of experiences available at a blinding pace, and seems to steal time in the same breath. For me creative thinking is:
A process of continuously petitioning the unconscious field to obtain the new.
This model suggests that new knowledge emerges through the unconscious mind and that aspects of this mind may be shared via intuition and synchronicities. It does not detract from our linear brain functions involved in reasoning and previous knowledge, nor does it negate other creative techniques, but sets the stage for those activities.

Yvonne: How do you employ creative thinking to solve problems?
I ask intently and continuously to know the core question regarding any situation, trusting that the answer will appear whether definitively or intuitively; and using that core question as the contextual basis for all investigation to either a next step or a final solution.
This sets the contextual stage for the next step. It may even solve the problem. You may then engage with others using rationale analysis, brainstorming, and  other techniques.
For example let us say you are a manager in a company and you have a chronic conflict between two employees to resolve. Your first inclination might be to think, “How can I help patch up a difference between these two people?” If however you ask yourself to know the core question, upon reflection it might be, “What is the best outcome for all concerned?”  With this question as the basis then a broader stage is set: it not only involves the two employees but the welfare of the company as well. Maybe instead of trying to patch things up it becomes clear in the ensuing process that the best outcome is for one of the people to leave. The loss of that person might cause a certain immediate burden, but his or her replacement could turn out to be a huge improvement and the person leaving may have actually wanted a change but lacked the initiative.
Frequently a problem involves how to create something new which is going to involve brainstorming with others. In this case when you do meet your unconscious mind has already been long at work. Then you are prepared for either a solution or the next step.

Yvonne: Can you incorporate creative thinking in decision making?
Absolutely. I actually went back to think about what factors were involved in my decision making process and produced a model to describe this. Most of our decisions are around situations requiring us to decide whether to go one direction or another or whether to act or not act.
You might then proceed by setting a goal of “achieving the best outcome for all involved” as it relates to the action contemplated. I like to think of having invisible partners on the other end of my goal setting and this being a foundation order to them. As a further filter I like to evaluate the contemplated action through a values screen. Is it ethical? Is it purposeful? Is it harmful? Is it in line with my core values?
If the answer is yes, then I am willing to proceed. If the answer is no, then stop and consider a new action.
As I move up the risk continuum I want to evaluate the nature of the desire. Is it for a pure experience or is it masking a fear? If it is masking a fear then reconsider. The fear may be replacing the original desire.
Finally I check my intuition.  If I get a “yes,” I proceed until I get a positive outcome or a negative outcome. A negative outcome may not necessarily be bad. For example there is the story of the Chinese peasant who loses his prize horse. His neighbor says, “Oh what a tragedy.” The peasant replies, “Maybe, Maybe not.” The next day the peasant’s son goes out on a mule to find the horse. In so doing he brings back the horse but falls off the mule and breaks his leg. The neighbor says, “Oh what a tragedy.” The peasant replies, “Maybe, maybe not.” The next day the Chinese Army sweeps through conscripting every able bodied youth. The son is spared.
Before having an outcome you may experience synchronicities. These are meetings between inner desires and outer world occurrences. If positive, continue on. If negative , then either stop and consider a new course of action or continue on until you receive a confirming negative synchronicity. In that case stop and consider a new action.

Yvonne: De Bono's 6 Thinking Hats have been introduced successfully in primary schools. What's the age limit on your methodology - can children benefit from using a simplified version?
The one thing that makes the De Bono a success is that the hats introduce an element of fun while keeping the children focused on the hat’s topic.
I feel that the most valuable quality children exhibit is their questioning and curious mind, especially with regard to the “Why” and “How.”
I think that exercises with children need to be fun. My take is that my model per se might be a bit too intellectual. However any exercise that would lead children to discuss the value of a question, what makes a question good or better and why would be extremely valuable.  I believe that learning to live life as a question is the portal to creativity.

Yvonne: Tell us more about your book and workbook, particularly how they spark creative thinking.
I wrote this book as an introspective journey seeing my life as being lived through a linear thinking lens, and then being made aware of an entirely new way of manifesting, and seeing life through that lens. I wanted to test this manifestation model in my daily life, being willing to raise the bar as the results seemed to confirm it was working. The book is the story of this journey. My feeling is that many people are on similar journeys and younger people can gain by knowing what is possible.  Perhaps the essence of this book is that if we live in a state of curiosity that will open up an expanding creative landscape. If we can realize our own personal power, and can learn to trust then we can have an extraordinary life.

The guidebook came about as a desire to pass on the essence of what I had learned, especially to young people who are starting out in life. I had the good fortune of being exposed to a number of cutting edge thinkers, and fascinating people all of whom made a profound impact upon me. I tried  out much of what they suggested.  I felt that a short guidebook which suggests not only how to think but what to think about could be very beneficial. Dr. Kerry Monick, the psychiatrist who was my catalyst in the book, was my collaborator for the guidebook.

For more information about Sandy Sims and How Frank Lloyd Wright Got Into My Head, Under My Skin And Changed The Way I Think About Thinking, A Creative Thinking Blue Print For the 21st Century, visit and visit this page to get the Amazon links    

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