Wishful Thinking – creativity technique for breakthrough innovation

Wishful Thinking as a tool
for Creative Problem Solving

1. Author

Arthur Van Gundy (May 24, 1946 – May 5, 2009) was an American communication professor, psychologist, internationally noted expert on idea-generation techniques, author of more than 16 books on problem-solving and creativity, designer of numerous new creative problem-solving strategies and techniques, such as the PICL-list (Product Improvement Check List), Word Diamond, Fresh Eye, Wishful Thinking, Object Stimulation, Try to become the problem, Air Cliché. Wishful thinking technique was described by Van Gundy in the book: Techniques of structured problem-solving. New York 1988.

2. Description

Wishful thinking technique consists of conscious activation of the imagination and creative fantasy, accepting the assumption that everything is
possible and generating new powerful and breakthrough ideas in the form of courageous wishes, fantasies, ideal decisions and a big dream.
This technique involves thinking about what you want most, would be really nice or simply interesting. In this case, it is desirable to think beyond sensible, beyond practical and feasible. By dreaming of your ideal situation or solution, you can help come up with powerful ideas in a more practical, creative or efficient way.

3. Main functions

1. Wishful thinking is a very useful tool for coming up with new ideas and powerful solutions.
“Dreams, not desperation, move organizations to the highest levels of performance” (Robert Waterman).
2. The wishful thinking tool does provide a way to free you from unnecessary assumptions, redefine a problem or situation, which is helpful in gaining new insights.

4. Methodological and theoretical grounds

In the most general sense, Wishful Thinking is understood as the act of wanting something to happen or be true when it is impossible.
The wishful thinking technique is based on fantasy and assuming that anything is possible. Wishful Thinking is one of the techniques, which could be classified under this intuitive category.
This is a nonlogical, unstructured method to find potential solutions to a problem. Intuitive techniques allow the participant to make giant leaps or to observe images or symbols in order to arrive at a solution. Wishful thinking engages intrinsic motivation and makes the wishes grow fresher, larger and more fanciful, effective and powerful.

5. Main rules

1. Encourage imaginations to run wild– the more unrealistic and bizarre the idea, the better. Think playfully, as a child. You can use the idealistic image and statement as a stepping-stone to a more realistic outcome.
2. New ideas must be the unrealistic and crazy function as a form of provocation. A crazy idea can lead to a brilliant insight that you would normally never even had considered. Provocation helps you break free from limiting thought patterns.
3. There should be no restrictions on thinking. Do not let budgets, the laws of physics or the law limit your thoughts.
4. Combine wishful thinking with other techniques, such as role-playing method, super hero, and brainstorming.

6. Procedure and basic stages

1. State the goal, situation, or problem.
2. Make the assumption that anything is possible
3. Make your wishes tangible then create 10 to 20 courageous wishes, the most daring and wildest dreams.
Frame ideas starting with “I wish…”
Using fantasy, make statements such as:
What would my perfect solution be?
What effect would my ideal solution have?
What if money/morals/laws did not matter at all?
What would I do if I had unlimited power and resources?
4. Examine each fantasy or idea and transpose it into your reality.
See what practical benefits you can get from the perfect solutions, how much of it can be put into practice and how you can achieve it.
Next, concentrate on some of these impossible wishes and use them to generate ideas that are unique but more realistic.
5. If necessary define the problem again and more clearly.

7. Advantages

1. Using wishful thinking expands consciousness and enhance creative thinking by including the motivations, emotions and desires expressed.
2. Wishful thinking is what encourages individuals to take risks, overcome stereotypes and break barriers.
2. Participants that use wishful thinking usually become more deeply engaged with creative problem-solving.

8. Disadvantages

The wishful thinking tool is based on fantasy and may not be supported by many, more pragmatic-minded team participants.