Multiple Redefinition

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Creativity Techniques
Morphological Forced Connections

Open-ended problems by definition are not well defined ‘the boundaries are fuzzy’ and different stakeholders may have varying boundary perceptions. The solver is unlikely to have a suitable description at the outset of the exact problem in hand and finds redefinition of the problem throughout the project.

A variety of redefinition techniques exist (see Boundary Relaxation). This method suggested by Tudor Rickards (1974), is designed to assist the solver increase imaginative and original redefinitions through a series of questions that take you through unexpected mental modes

  • Empathic
  • Analytic
  • Motivational
  • Magical
  • Metaphorical
  • Off-beat

The following checklist of provocative statements is suggested to bring about these feelings:

  • ‘There is usually more than one-way of looking at problems. You could also define this one as ….’
  • ‘….but the main point of the problem is….’
  • ‘What I would really like to do is….’
  • ‘If I could break all laws of reality (physical, social etc.) I would try to solve it by ….’
  • ‘The problem put in another way could be likened to …’
  • ‘Another, even stranger, way of looking at it might be….’

To use this technique, try following this simple procedure:

  1. Taking as short or as long as required note down on a sheet of paper an open-ended problem of importance to you. The problem should be one, which you would like several answers leading to possible solutions.
  2. In your own time, complete the above statements with reference to your particular problem. However, if nothing comes to mind for a particular statement, progress on to the next statement
  3. It can be useful to have a break at this stage to allow time for deliberation.
  4. Return to your original definition ( 1 ), have any of the redefinitions helped? Can you see the problem from a different angle? Write down any thoughts or ideas you have at this stage.