4 March 2006

Just heard what sounded like two explosions, or one explosion and its echo. A dull thud in the distance.

There’s more to this family of mine than I realised. While cleaning the bathroom found among the plethora of shampoo and conditioner bottles, a bottle of Turtle Wax (yes, it’s for cars.) Hmmm.

When I was still at school, randomly browing the library one day, I discovered the work of Edward de Bono on creative thinking. This was long before his ideas were taken up as a standard part of business training, along with mind maps (another thing I discovered in 1976 while it was still obscure). Some of these techniques became a standard part of my way of handling anything at work or home. De Bono himself has created quite a partisan phenomenon in business and in the press – he’s either lauded as a guru or mocked for hubris. I’ve tended to hold on to only a few of his thinking techniques, but one that has proved invaluable, and which I’ve used a couple of times this week, is called TEC (Target, Expand, Conclusion). I call it the 10-minute think, and I use it for things about which I’ve procrastinated, because they seem too big, or where it looks like they could do with some reconsideration or re-evaluation.   

The key part of it is you limit it to ten minutes. So it’s not a big deal, it’s only ten minutes out – you might get what you’re after, you might not, but you can afford ten minutes. I use a digital watch with a countdown alarm.
Target (2m):
– decide what you want to focus on for this session. What aspect of the project, or problem, or need will you think about? What do you want to achieve? Quickly, without deliberating about them, write down every aim you might have, and choose one or two.
Expand / Explore (6m):
– take the aim you chose to focus on and write bullet points or a mind map (or just think) for 6 minutes, trying to explore it as thoroughly as you can.
Contract/Conclusion (2m):
– draw conclusions, particularly the Next Step – what are the next actions to be taken and when are you going to take them?

The beauty of the technique is that as well as being affordable, the ten-minute limit tends to focus the mind and you apply yourself more intensely than if you just sat randomly trying to find a solution. It needn’t be 10m – that’s just my choice, just divide the time period you choose in the same proportions and stick to them (don’t move on to the next stage, even if it doesn’t feel like you’re coming up with anything.)

More of this stuff at http://www.edwdebono.com/