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Provoke Creative Content Marketing With Lateral Thinking

Posted by Christine B. Whittemore on Jan 26, 2016 8:30:00 AM

This is a 6 minute read.

Provoke Creative Content Marketing With Lateral ThinkingIf you've been doing content marketing for any period of time, chances are you've hit at least one wall where you're left wondering how will you ever publish another piece of content let alone a remarkable one... Consider breaking through that wall using lateral thinking to get back to generating creative content marketing.

What Is Lateral Thinking?

I first learned about lateral thinking during a BRITE creativity workshop.

>> See BRITE 09: Innovating During Downturns & Surviving the Worst

Lateral thinking, a term that Edward de Bono developed, uses an indirect and creative approach to solve problems that a linear or logical approach fails at. As Lateral Thinking Stimulates Creativity and Innovation explains,

"Lateral thinking involves approaching the problem from new directions – literally from the side." 

Lateral refers to moving sideways across patterns instead of moving along them as in normal thinking. 


Without patterns of perception we wouldn't be able to organize our lives into easily recognizeable patterns

Critical to the success of lateral thinking is a provocation which serves to jar us out of our normal patterns of thinking.

That's not to say that normal patterns of thought are anything to be ashamed of. Quite the contrary. Without patterns of perception we wouldn't be able to organize our lives into easily recognizable patterns and we'd have difficulty processing information to make our way through life. We need patterns and habits.

>> See How Habit Helps You Connect With Customers: BRITE'13 + INBOUND13

Situations occur, though, when existing patterns of perception become a problem, stiffling creativity and innovation. They have us stuck in a rut. How then to break through so we can come up with alternative solutions?

Enter Provocation to Launch You Into Lateral Thinking 

If lateral thinking moves you out of your existing thinking patterns, into new patterns of perception, it requires something outside of the norm to propel you into that new pattern. That's where provocation comes into play. 

As you see in the image below, some sort of creation insight - aka provocation - moves you from your normal pattern of perception - aka the rut - into a new one. It moves you sideways.

 
 
Lateral refers to moving sideways across patterns instead of moving along them as in normal thinking.
 

Think how taking a completely different point of view can help you see things differently.

Look at how humor and a punchline can move us out of a linear mode of thinking. 

In the telling of a joke, we are taken along the main track and then suddenly shifted to the end of the sidetrack where we can immediately see the track we came from. 

Humor and creativity work in the brain the same way.

 

What Does Provocation Look Like?

I was reminded of the deliciousness of a provocation when I read The 180 Rule - Creative Problem Solving. The article explains,

"Since our lizard brain makes it easy to think negatively, Rich suggests that we attempt to answer the opposite question to whatever we're trying to solve."

In other words, asking an expected question oftentimes generates the same kind of result as that wall I opened this article with. Instead, ask the opposite question so you jump into lateral thinking mode.

Furthermore, 

"Asking “what if” is a lateral thinking technique that helps explore possibilities and challenge assumptions simultaneously and stretches every dimension of an issue."

Some other examples of provocation include contemplating a map of the world upside down. (Imagine how modern art or Impressionism provoked traditional art circles...) 

 
Some other examples of provocation include contemplating a map of the world upside down.
 
 
 
Ultimately, provocation creates mental instability that forces the thinker to develop new ideas. As the slide below explains,
 
"The provocative statement needs to lie outside our normal experience - otherwise it will not have any provocation value."
 
 
 
provocation creates mental instability that forces the thinker to develop new ideas

Effective provocation statements force you to go outside of your realm of experience and comfort. They are deliberate ways to force creative insight and into lateral thinking.

There are four categories of provocation:

  • Exaggeration: Exaggerate normal properties
  • Escape: cancel, negate, drop, remove, deny what we have taken for granted
  • Reverse: Reverse the normal direction of action. Change it to move in the opposite direction.
  • Wishful Thinking - go to edges: Turn a fantasy wish into a provocation. 
 
Effective provocation statements force you to go outside of your realm of experience and comfort.

 

Ready To Get Provocative And Move Into Lateral Thinking Mode?

What's your reaction to using provocation? Which do you find most effective for pushing you into content marketing creation-mode? How have you successfully pushing through a content marketing wall? I'd love to hear.

If you're interested in more about creativity, here are a few links of interest: 

Topics: content marketing, innovation

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