SYSTEMS OF THINKING
To develop our thinking to a place of full color we need systems that help guide our thinking processes. Brainstorming, for example, is a system whereby all involved agree not to criticize one another for the common purpose of generating a list of new ideas or possible solutions. This system helps us to focus on and release our creative imagination without fear of rejection.
King Solomon wrote, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” If you think in black and white you will develop a narrow view of the world and risk becoming a judgmental, narrow-minded person. To think in color is not always the easy road, and requires characteristics such as humility, grace, honesty, openness, patience, and the courage to ask the hard questions.
Throughout this book, I will introduce many original systems that myself, and others, have developed. Thinking in Color is a system that I have developed in order to help us change gears between different modes of thinking. Using the base colors of yellow, green, red and blue, I have designed four gears for thinking. These gears help you to develop and work through all aspects of a new idea or problem.
Sculptors possess a range of tools for working their design into stone. Each tool carries out a defined function. They have learned to use each tool to get the desired effect. They are skilled crafts people who know which tools to use at any given point to achieve the big picture. In the same way, each color represents a tool in achieving the desired result. This system does not necessarily have a beginning or an end. You simply continue shifting from one mode of thinking to another until you have explored all your options.
YELLOW THINKING – CREATIVE THINKING
Yellow is the color said to stimulate creativity, thus it represents creativity in the thinking process.
Yellow thinking has to do with generating creative possibilities: new ideas, hypothesis, invention, humor, solutions and design. Many great ideas have been aborted due to critical and analytical thinking being introduced too early in the process. Yellow thinking is allowing ourselves to dream, to create and to imagine the new possibilities, to brainstorm what could be!
Cell phones, computers, cars and buildings; in fact every product or service in existence originated from a tiny seed idea in someone’s 3 pound brain. It was then designed, developed, tested, improved on, and then sold to you and I. We can fly around the world, travel to the moon, phone the North Pole, listen to the radio, turn on a light and read a book – all because someone had confidence in his or her bright idea.
To engage in positive, creative, optimistic, lateral thinking is to think in yellow. This kind of thinking is the starting point when it comes to problem solving or developing creative solutions. Often what people think to be their problem is not the real problem. Identifying the real problem will require thinking in yellow.
In his book, How to Think Like Einstein, Scott Thorpe identifies the kind of thinking that positioned Einstein for success. Thorpe shows that Einstein’s advantage, when he began work on relativity and the solution that ultimately became e=mc,2 was that he had a good problem. Many of Einstein’s contemporaries had been working on the same phenomena, but they were trying to solve a very different problem. Their problem went something like this: “How can nature appear to act that way when we know that it can’t?” They did not succeed. More experiments, more money, or more effort would not have helped. They failed because they were looking for an answer that did not exist. Einstein succeeded because he was working on a problem that enabled a solution. He asked himself: “What would nature be like if it did act the way we observe it to act?” This problem has a solution. Einstein found it and it changed our world.” 1
When facing a problem, creativity or possibility thinking is the best place to start. It often requires lateral thinking to identify or define the problem, so when it comes to problem solving, we are focusing our energy on the relevant issues. Albert Einstein points out “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” 2
Yellow thinking is going where no man has been before. It is thinking outside of the box; it is the generation of new ideas and the rearrangement of old ones. Thinking in yellow sheds new light on our fears and creates a way out, a different mindset.
Solomon’s father, King David, taught him not to subject his thinking to cynics, scoffers or mockers. 3 He warned his son to avoid the black and white thinking of the skeptics and critics of his day. The dictionary describes a cynic as a person who has little faith in human sincerity. In my experience this group of self-appointed judges have done little to help humanity. They are the dream killers, skilled at putting a negative spin on everything. Masters of putdown, they critique our lives for what they haven’t been, aren’t now and probably won’t be. Our ideas won’t survive these people, so don’t “throw your pearls before swine.” 4
Thinking in yellow requires that a positive environment be built for the incubation of valuable new ideas. C.S. Lewis along with J.R.R. Tolkien and their group of writers called, the Inklings, created this kind of safe place to discuss their writings and test their new conceptions. To effectively think in yellow, it is important that we connect with the right people, creating a safe place to dream and development our ideas