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Book Review

Sheimeita Ashley University of South Alabama Nurs 613

Title: A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative

Publisher: New York: NY, Business Plus

Copyright: 2008

One will be able to identify the ten mental blocks that inhibit creativity. One will understand the strategies needed to overcome the ten mental blocks. One will develop an understanding of the four roles that are used in fostering creativity.

What does it mean to get whacked on the side of the head?

Step out of your routine and venture away from habit; get whacked (p26). Unlearn what you know! Think differently! Certain circumstances can force this to happen. For example: Not getting a promotion for the director of nursing position, or a fatal medication error. Other times it may happen by chance.

Creative Change, Leadership, Organizational Analysis, and Quality Improvement

According to Sharon Edwards (2006), nursing practice requires creativity. The ability to develop and implement new solutions to improve patient care is key to developing quality improvement initiatives. As nurse leaders, we must be able to combat the ten mental locks, and use the strategies and roles to implement change in the workplace. By thoroughly analyzing and understanding ones organization, one can stimulate the creative process, think differently, and develop strategies that will positively impact care and drive quality improvement.

What Are Mental Locks?

Constraints placed on ones creativity due to lack of use and ease of routine Hazardous ideations that lead one to believe there is only one correct solution

Mental Lock 1: The Right Answer

There is always more than one right answer. By searching for only one answer, it is very easy to miss the correct answer. Always search for a second answer before coming to a conclusion! How do I find the 2nd right answer?

Ask what if? Reverse the problem. Forget the obvious answer.

Mental Lock 2: Thats Not Logical

People immediately attempt to add logic into the equation, this inhibits creativity! Recognize that you must go through the imaginative phase first (one must experiment with various ideas). The practical phase occurs later, after when one uses logic to evaluate their ideas and put them into action. How do I effectively use my sense of logic? Know when to use each phase of creativity. Use your premonition. Use soft thinking during the imaginative phase. Soft thinking involves using a broad perspective and allows one the ability to play with ideas (p51).

Mental Lock 3: Follow the Rules

Obeying rules when trying to develop ones ideas can be harmful and limit ones creative capacity. How does one break out of following the rules? Creative thinking requires one to steer away from exhausted and overused rules One must be destructive and challenge rules and thoughts. Avoid becoming overly enthused about any one idea, this will keep one from overusing the rule or idea. Inspect rules and their usefulness.

Mental Lock 4: Be Practical

Practicality does not always apply! People tend to form a negative bias before even considering a new idea or solution, this is impractical. How do I stop being practical and become more creative? Use your imagination! Ask what if? Use your answers as stepping stones to guide you to new ideas. One helpful tip is to consider how other people would find a solution Focus on the positive and useful aspects of your ideas Use the creative no technique (p104). Anytime someone says no to an idea, they must come up with an alternative solution


Mental Lock 5: Play is Frivolous

People often have the notion that there is no time for play. However, play is a creative method that can be used to nurture ideas. How do I use play to develop my ideas? Realize that there are two sides to the creative process. 1. Play: Experiment with ideas to learn what is effective. 2. Work: Evaluate the learned knowledge and use it. Take time with your ideas, give them time to grow Play around with your ideas by putting limits on your ideas to develop creative outcomes. Time constraints Budget limits


Mental Lock 6: Thats Not My Area

People have developed an expert mentality and do not look for answers in other fields due to specialization. This limits creativity and also prevents individuals from finding a beneficial solution. How do I avoid limiting my creativity with specialization? Be assertive! Make time to explore other fields. Acknowledge the obvious.


Mental Lock 7: Dont Be Foolish

As a society we are used to conforming in order to avoid being called a fool. We think in groups (groupthink) and feed off of each others ideas. How do I break out of the conventional ways and spark new and creative ideas? Play the fool and see where it leads you. Change your perspective. Address the problem from the perspective of the opposite gender, or from a person in a different position. Ask a fool or someone with no expertise in the field. Their outside perspective can possibly lead one to the second right answer.


Mental Lock 8: Avoid Ambiguity

We have been conditioned to avoid ambiguity in order to deter miscommunications. How does one use ambiguity to promote creativity? Do not restrict your imagination. Avoid being too specific Use random information to drive your imagination Be ambiguous when playing with ideas. Listen to your dreams.


Mental Lock 9: To Err is Wrong

We often follow the mentality that right answers are good and wrong answers are bad. We learn from trial and error, not necessarily trials and success. How do I learn to accept error and failure? Interpret errors as a sign to change directions. Use failure as opportunities to grow. Evaluate your errors, what opportunities are you missing? Avoid being overconfident. Dont get locked into a pattern, play with other approaches. Question all of the possible outcomes before starting a project; be aware of what could go right and what could happen if you fail.


Mental Lock 10: Im Not Creative

Assuming that one is not creative, is a common misconception that limits creative abilities. How do I become more creative? Have faith, take risks, and place yourself in a position to use your creativity. Pay attention to your small ideas. Determine your individual creative style.


In order to effectively use the creative strategies that were previously discussed, one must know which role to use, and when to use it. The four roles discussed by Van Oech are needed to manifest creative ideas. They include: Artist: This role is used to turn your resources into ideas. Explorer: This role is used to search for new ideas and information, as well as tools to build your ideas. Judge: This role is used to evaluate your idea and create a plan. Question assumptions, weigh the evidence. Warrior: This role is used to put your idea into action. One must overcome any obstacles that stand in your path.

The Four Roles of the Creative Process

Key Message

Creativity can be learned! Unlearn your habits. Developing new solutions and ideas requires creativity and is necessary to promote change in all environments, including health care. Creative thinking requires one to be open-minded and adventurous. One must be willing to play! In order to be creative, one must change their perspectives and test their own knowledge. Learn how to think differently. Get past the ten mental locks and let your creativity run wild and play your roles!


Questions to Think About

Which of the ten locks do you feel keep you from being creative? Think of a situation that you are currently dealing with and ask yourself , what if?


Edwards, S. (2007)Critical thinking: A two-phase framework. Nurse Education in Practice. 7(5). Retrieved from: 1e8c1703f2 Oech, R.V. (2008). A whack on the side of the head: How you can be more creative. New York: NY, Business Plus.