In Conceptual Blockbusting, author James L. Adams discusses various kinds of blocks that impede our ability to “conceptualize” of problems and solve them in a creative way. He believes it’s important to understand these kinds of blocks that act as impediments to our thinking because we can then begin to be more deliberate about overcoming them–that is, “blockbusting”. According to Adams, there are 4 general categories ofblocks: The first are Perceptual Blocks. Perceptual blocks prevent us from properly perceiving the information needed to solve the problem, or in some cases, the problem itself. An example of a perceptual blockmight be an inability to see the problem from alternate viewpoints. Emotional blocks mainly stem from fears such as taking risks, failing, feeling lost and chaotic or being judged by others. Cultural or environmentalblocks are impediments to creative problem solving that are a result of the sociocultural environment we are in (e.g. taboos or cultural beliefs) or the types of environments we live and work in (e.g. distractions, lack of support and trust from others). The final category are Intellectual / Expressive blocks, which includes not having the right information or mental strategies on hand to solve the problem, or shortcomings in recording and expressing ideas for problem-solving.
After discussing the various types of blocks, Adams discusses strategies for overcoming them. It is Adams’ characterization of these blocks and his strategies for overcoming them that is particularly relevant for this project. In the design of a process to help individuals act on and develop their creative ideas, it’s helpful to be aware of the types of creative blocks that individuals may encounter and if possible, design the process in such a way so that individuals can be guided to understand them and eventually overcome them. Additionally, Adams describes various thinking languages (e.g. verbal, visual, mathematical) and cognitive styles (e.g. deduction and induction) that are used to conceptualize of problems, and stresses that utilizing different styles is important for problem-solving. The design implication of this means that the final process would ideally be able to help individuals identify their preferred thinking style, as well as encourage them to be more comfortable with ones they are not as familiar with.
- The final process or tool should guide individuals in overcoming some of the blocks they may encounter while going through the process.
- Guide the individual into understanding their own thinking style, while supporting the individual in exploring and trying other styles as well.