Creative Thinking

by Jeff Hawkins
May 12, 2015


I was fortunate to have recently participated in Southwest Michigan First's Populus 2015 event. This one-day event provided an opportunity for fellow community leaders from throughout Southwest Michigan to get together to discuss issues that affect our communities futures. During the day we broke out into five groups to discuss the Urban Core; Arts, Culture and Creativity; Public Services; Transportation and Mobility; and Education and Workforce Development. Our task was to come up with and pitch our one big idea for the community. Prior to our breakout sessions we had several inspirational speakers to help us get the juices flowing. The ideation (new word for me) was impressive and inspiring.

I know many communities have visioning sessions and charrettes and other similar types of events to plan for the future, some of which I have participated in. However, this event was a bit different in the ground rules that were set for the discussions. My friend Tim Terrentine with Southwest Michigan First presented the Eight Commandments of Idea Ignition which helped to insure that the participants opened their minds to all ideas freeing us from preconceived notions and historical knowledge. I believe that these commandments are a great way to stimulate bigger and bolder ideas that can identify greater opportunities for transformative change. I hope that sharing them with our readers will help your future planning events.

8 Commandments of Idea Ignition
1. Thou shall not judge - Let your ideas flow, everyone can evaluate them later;
2. Thou shall not comment - Reserve criticisms for later otherwise it tends to stop creative thought;
3. Thou shall not edit - Sloppy is good when you are throwing ideas out for discussion;
4. Thou shall not execute - Avoid planning now, save the how for later;
5. Thou shall not worry - Fear is the enemy;
6. Thou shall not look backwards - You don't want to get in the we've tried that before attitude;
7. Thou shall not lose focus - Try and keep from letting tangents divert your attention;
8. Thou shall not sap energy - Energy sappers like to suck the life out of the creative process, let it flow.

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southwest michigan first  populus 2015  communities future  tim terrentine

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