Deep Dive Into Creativity

Left + Right: Smart Synthesis

In baseball, a switch hitter can bat equally well from either side of the plate. Since it’s easier for a right-handed batter to hit a left-handed pitcher (and vice versa), being able to switch up creates a distinct advantage for the hitter. When you’re ready to Evaluate your ideas, it’s best to invite the left brain back into the room because here’s where the two hemispheres of the brain can really march in lockstep.


Evaluation is time for deliberation. We like this word because it indicates one should proceed at a deliberate, thoughtful pace. Slowing the process down a bit now is a good thing. And although this next effort can involve giving the axe to a lot of once promising ideas, it’s also a highly creative venture where we continue to use our toolkit to deepen the originality and definition of our ideas. “I like these two ideas -- the rest can go. But, I’m also intrigued by this off the wall comment from the brainstorm about the lunar cycle. How can I mash them together?” -- this constant questioning, pulling apart, reassembling, and synthesizing is the heart and soul of right + left creativity.

Tales and Techniques 

with David Rossiter

Evaluation: Keeping Score

Ever heard of the PMI evaluation technique? It stands for Plus, Minus, and Interesting. Here’s how you can use it. Take a long hard look at your idea -- it should be pretty well-defined at this point. Draw three columns and label them P, M, and I. Now, within each appropriate column, list the aspects of your proposed creative solution -- in essence what are its strengths (plus), weaknesses (minus), and what, if anything, makes it unique and cool (interesting). How did your solution fair? Naturally, the more weighted you idea is in the Plus and Interesting columns, the better.

Evaluation: Kill Your Darlings

During the Discovery phase things can get emotional. Even to the point where we become almost irrationally fond of a pet idea we’ve come up with. To us, it seems like the perfect solution -- making both common and business sense. But here’s something to bear in mind: when you’re wearing the editor’s hat, it’s best to don the cloak of objectivity as well. Just because we love an idea doesn’t automatically make it the best one. In fact, the more you love one particular idea, the more suspicious of it you should become. The Beat poets of the 1950s referred to this as “Kill your darlings” i.e. don’t fall head over heels in love with your ideas because, as we all know, there’s a huge difference between a love that stands the test of time vs. a crush-driven fling. The latter may initially be fun but could later on leave you empty-handed when the chips are down.


We’ve come quite a ways in a relatively short time. Congratulate yourself on sticking with it. We’re hoping you picked up a lot of insights, useful info, and practical approaches to upping your creative game. After you’ve watched today’s video, grab a pencil and paper and try your hand at coming up with a new concept or design for a new refrigerator (or anything else!) that successfully blends some characteristics of a famous real, or fictional, character with those of your favorite national park. See if you can bring forward one, completely unique and innovative idea that could serve as the centerpiece for this new design or approach to the common, household fridge. Then run a PMI assessment of your solution. How’d you fare? These are just a few of nearly endless supply of creative techniques you can bring to bear on any challenge you encounter. Look over the Resources listing directly below. They’re incredibly helpful to have laying around.


pencil and paper

Life On Purpose, Victor J. Strecher
Zig Zag, Keith Sawyer
Thinkertoys, Michael Michalko
Cracking Creativity, Michael Michalko
Ideaspotting, Sam Harrison
The Art of Looking Sideways, Alan Fletcher
Gamestorming, Dave Gray et al (

The Accidental Creative, Todd Henry

Cards and Apps
ThinkPak, Michael Michalko (card deck)
Creative Whack Pack, Roger von Oech (app, card deck)
Brainsparker (app)

BeFocused ((iOS app)

Forest (iOS/Android app)

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