"If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten"
Storyline: From the article Challenging the Rules from the book A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger von Oech.
When faced with a seemingly intractable problem, a very effective creative thinking strategy is to play the revolutionary, and challenge the rules.
In the winter of 333 B.C., the Macedonian general Alexander and his army arrived in the Asian city of Gordium to take up winter quarters. While there, Alexander heard about the legend surrounding the town’s famous knot, the “Gordian Knot.” A prophecy states that whoever is able to untie this strangely complicated knot will become the king of Asia.
The story intrigued Alexander, and he asked to be taken to the knot so that he could attempt to untie it. He studied it for a bit, but after some fruitless attempts to find the rope ends, he was stymied. “How can I unfasten this knot?” he asked himself. Then he got an idea: “I will make up my own knot-untying rules.” He pulled out his sword and sliced the knot in half. Asia was fated to him.
If constructive patterns were all that were necessary for creative new ideas, we’d all be creative geniuses. Creative thinking is not only constructive, it’s also destructive. Creative thinking involves breaking out of one pattern in order to create a new one.
All too often, we become ensnared by the familiar phenomenon:
- We make rules based on the reasons that they make a lot of sense.
- We follow these rules.
- Time passes and things change.
- The original reasons for the rules may no longer exist, but because the rules are still in place, we continue to follow them.
So what knots can you untie today?