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The Cascade of Creativity

The metaphorical Four Element creativity model.

An excerpt from The Art and Science of Light Bulb Moments
by Tom Evans | Updated September 9, 2018

If you were introduced to the idea of the atom at school, in all probability, you would have been told the atom had a nucleus with electrons revolving around it — much like our Sun and its orbiting planets.

If you continued further study, this would have been replaced as a model by one where the nucleus and its components and the orbiting electrons were really waves of potential and probability — not particles at all.

The particle model emerged in the 19th century only to be replaced by the wave model in the 20th century. In the 21st century, the main advancement will be the integration of consciousness into both models.

Modern day students can of course be introduced to all models and see them in context in just a few short years. This then allows the next wave of understanding to be introduced by a new generation with new perspectives and new light bulb moments.

Even with an understanding of the quantum world, I still prefer to envisage the atomic model as a world of particles — as I am sure perhaps secretly so do many physicists. Indeed many advances in modern day chemistry were achieved using this mode. It still has many uses.

Similarly, well before the periodic table of the elements was discovered, the world was thought to consist of four (or five) elements — namely Ether, Fire, Air, Water and Earth. Traditional Chinese medicine, and other forms of complementary therapies, still use it as one of their fundamental bases.

As a young scientist, inducted to the atomic model, like many I treated the notion there might only be Four Elements with some derision. Latterly however, I've found it has a real practical use — certainly in the context of light bulb moments.

Cascade of CreativityFrom the perspective of grounding light bulb moments, using the Four Element model works really well. As you can see, the Four Elements map into four worlds — namely the Archetypal World, the Creative World, the Formative World and the Physical World.

The Archetypal World is the plane of ideas and the source of light bulb moments. The element of Fire relates to the raw energy trapped within the universal mind-stuff that we tap into and unleash.

The Creative World is the plane of patterns where thoughts crystallize. It's associated with the element of Water as this represents the fluidity of thought. It's just an idea we haven't yet formulated but we are working on.

The Formative World is the plane of processes. This is where we test an idea and work out how we might apply. The element Air here denotes that the breath is what drives our thinking processes. Without it there is no interaction.

Lastly the Physical World is represented obviously by the element of the Earth which in turn means physical matter. Here our ideas become real and grounded.

Again, I emphasize this model is just a metaphor but what it points towards is a process whereby our light bulb moments can be grounded into reality.

During the 20th century, several luminaries came up with other similar processing systems. By looking at them briefly, we can see that this type of process can be applied in many situations.

Walt Disney used the concept of Three Rooms in his film production.

In room 1, everyone could come up with the most amazing dreams for the production. No criticism was allowed to sneak in.

In room 2, the dreams were assembled into a storyboard — now used ubiquitously in film production.

In room 3, the inner critics were allowed to have full reign and be externalized. It was just the overall project and no individual that was the subject of the scrutiny.

Later that same century, Edward de Bono, a proponent of lateral thinking, came up with a system of parallel thinking known as Six Thinking Hats.

This has been rolled out in many organizations around the world, both large and small. Not only does it produce amazing results but it reduces meeting times significantly. The main reason for this is that it gives focus and removes egotistical posturing from proceedings.

The group works on an issue with a different colored hat on in turn — which can be a physical hat or an imaginary hat.

The Blue Hat is concerned with control and is initially used to define the topic to be dealt with.

The White Hat is next and deals with what is known already — just the facts, no conjecture. If you don't know something then you note down that is it a fact that you don't know it as opposed to making a guess. This way it gets picked up as an action by the facilitator later.

The Red Hat allows the air to be cleared and everyone's emotions and feelings to be tabled. This is a brilliant hat to don as it allows everyone to vent their anger, fears and frustrations.

Next comes the Black Hat which allows critical judgment to be applied. Most often the negatives of the situation get aired here.

Once these three hats have been used, there is no space for negativity or fear. The space is cleared for creativity to be unleashed, much as we did in the second Illumination.

The Yellow Hat is next and the positives of the venture are brought to the fore.

The next hat is my personal favourite which I wear most of the time as a matter of course. The Green Hat allows 'blue sky' thinking to be unleashed. This is the brainstorming hat.

Incidentally I would have renamed some of them but I'm not Edward de Bono and I am sure he had his reasons.

With the Green Hat on, no idea is deemed unworthy and no other type of thinking — either negative, fearful or critical — is allowed to surface. Egos are nicely suppressed.

Finally, the Blue Hat is worn again to bring the meeting to a close and to summarize actions, roles and responsibilities going forward.

Both Walt Disney's and de Bono's systems generate real world tangible outputs — even more so when combined with the techniques in the first half of this book.

What's clear is that by breaking a task down into component parts, it becomes manageable and encourages new thinking.

What happens if you skip a step is that nothing gets done and you are just swamped with ideas that never see the real world. In the Four Element model, what happens is that they get as far as the Creative World but then leak back to the superconsciousness.

What you have done is to stir the collective mind up and someone else can now download what was your idea (or so you thought) and annoyingly bring it to market while you are busy on the 'next best thing.'

Next: Writing: Getting In The Groove

©2011 Tom Evans. All rights reserved.