Over the Christmas holidays I have been reading the excellent book Conceptual Blockbusting: A guide to better ideas, by James L. Adams.
The book begins by introducing several type of conceptual blocks, such as cultural conventions or restrictive thought patterns, that stifle creative problem solving, before going on to describe methods for busting through these barriers.
In the later part of the book, Adams comments that most people dream of coming up with a world-changing invention that would allow them to retire in comfort or even luxury. He then gives two reasons why, in most cases, these dreams do not materialise.
Firstly, it is difficult to find a problem that the world needs solving; and secondly, solutions require time and financial sacrifices that the average person is unable or unwilling to make.
The technique put forward for busting the first part of this problem is one that really caught my imagination: the bug list.
A bug list is simply a list of things that bug or annoy you. Regularly adding to and reviewing this list may help produce the spark for your own world-changing idea.
Adams suggests that an initial bug listing session should last at least ten minutes; if you run out of ideas before this time, you are probably suffering from other conceptual blocks (if this is the case then I would really recommend getting a copy of the book!).
Here are a few samples from my own bug list:
- Waiting at red traffic lights when no one else is on the road
- Supermarket multi-buy offers instead of just lowering the individual price
- Background noise in the office
- Cars not parked within the lines
- People not responding to emails
- Nuisance phone calls and spam in general
The plethora of note-taking and list-building applications available for mobile devices makes creating and maintaining a bug list very simple. Why not pin a bug list to your phone’s home screen to capture bugs as they occur?