Activating Creativity Method of focal objects

Method of focal objects

Artwork by Salvador Dali
Salvador Dalí. Slave Market with the Disappearing Bust of Voltaire. 1940 Сальвадор Дали. Рынок рабов с исчезающим бюстом Вольтера

Method of focal objects (MFO)

1. Authors
 American scientist Charles Whiting (1958), predecessor – German psychologist Friedrich Kunze “Method of catalog” (1926), follower Edward de Bono “Random Stimulation Method” (1970).
2. History
Professor at the University of Berlin F. Kunze launched in 1926 with the first naming “Method of catalog”. Later in 1958 American scientist, C. Whiting improved and named to “Focal Objects Method”. In 1970, Edward de Bono in his book “Lateral Thinking” coined the “Random Stimulation Method”. (Using random input to create new connections). The thinker chooses an object at random, or a noun from a dictionary, and associates it with the area they are thinking about.
In a broader sense this method had its root in using random input for the expanding the field of interpretation in prophetic Chinese I Ching, ancient Greeks Delphic Oracle and Egyptian Tarot practices.
3. Main functions
1. Applied for the purpose of improving existing objects and creating their new, unusual modifications.
2. Serves as a means of entering into a creative state and developing imagination and associative, non-standard thinking.
4. Methodological and theoretical grounds
1. The principle of the universal connection of all things and events.
2. Understanding creativity as a combination of existing objects and its features.
3. Creative potential of associative search and heuristic properties of randomness.
5. The essence of the method
The essence of the Method of focal objects is to put the object that is improved in the focus of attention and transfer to it the new properties of randomly selected objects. New combinations are developed using the method of free associations. Selected unusual combinations can lead to productive ideas to perfect the focal object.
6. Procedure and steps
Step 1. Select the object focal point for improvement
Step 2. Select 3-5 random objects (nouns), opening at random encyclopedia, dictionary, book or newspaper. Preference is given to words from areas as far from the focal object.
Step 3. To write out for each of the random objects several (5-7) characteristic, unique properties, functions and attributes (adjectives).
Step 4. Transfer the obtained properties and attributes of the selected object to the object focal point and record new combinations.
Step 5. Develop each of the obtained combinations through the free associations and record all emerging interesting ideas.
Step 6. Evaluate new ideas and select the most effective from the point of view of novelty, originality, efficiency and feasibility.
7. Advantages
1. Universality of the method, invariance for solving a wide range of tasks from object improvement, to writing articles.
2. Simplicity and ease of use and mastering of technique.
3. The method is an effective way of developing imagination and associative, non-standard thinking.
8. Disadvantages and Restrictions
1. This method is ineffective in solving complex problems.
2. The method does not disclose the origin and essence of the problem, and does not guarantee the obtaining strong solutions.
3. In this method there are no rules and criteria for selecting and evaluating the ideas received.


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