June  2009     Edition 50
Instant Thinking

When we decide to “think” about something

, whether we use Critical Thinking methods or just our everyday automatic mode, it usually takes a lot of time, especially group thinking.    Most of us really don’t like to “think” (See “3 reasons why we don’t think”), and especially if it’s going to take a lot of time.

I’m Mike Kallet and in addition to running HeadScratchers

, and training professionals in Critical Thinking, I’m also a coach for Destination Imagination.TM  (www.IDODI.org).   This is a organization that hosts a yearly worldwide competition for kids, in teams of 3 to 7, who use their imagination and teamwork to solve some very difficult challenges.  At the competition, each team presents their solution for one of the 5 main challenges they worked on during the prior 6 months.  In addition to these preset challenges they also compete in what’s called “Instant Challenge”.

Instant Challenge:

Each team is called into a room and presented with an “Instant Challenge”, for example: building something, such as a bridge between two blocks that can hold a weight using only paper, paper clips, rubber bands and cups; or creating a skit such as some famous person who accomplishes something unique.  Immediately upon hearing the challenge, the kids have less than 5 minutes to figure out what to do, how to accomplish it, what parts to use, how to construct the objective, what words, skit, props to create, and what roll, part and contribution everyone has.  Then they usually have 2 or 3 minutes to build the object and/or present their skit, sometimes both.

Practicing a variety of different Instant Challenges contributes to extraordinary use of teamwork

, thinking quickly and critically, compromising, and leadership.  If you have kids, I strongly encourage you to investigate this program sponsored by school districts throughout the U.S.A and world.

Instant Challenges for Business Professionals

.  The next time you call a meeting to “brainstorm” or discuss a problem, or decision, or something you want to accomplish, instead of holding a 1 hour free-for-all meeting, setup the meeting as follows: Break up attendees into groups of 3 to 5 people.  Be very precise as to the objective and what resources can be used to accomplish the task, such as budget, people, equipment, etc.  Then give the teams 5 to 7 minutes to create a proposed solution, then 2 minutes to present it.   Repeat this with each group, or ask the same group to do it again.  In 1 hour you’ll have 5 proposals to consider, most of which will be creative with some out-of-the box thinking and ideas.   Now you can pick out the ones that sound interesting and spend a little bit more time flushing them out.

The Takeaway:
  If you want to generate a lot of good ideas in a short period of time, practice and implement the use of “Instant Thinking”.  It’s a great method to enthusiastically generate ideas, and at the same time, encourage teamwork, compromise, support, and leadership.

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Critical Thinking Techniques for Problem Solving, Decision Making, Innovation and Leadership.
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