Roger von Oech

Creative Think

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ann michael

Roger- Great point! Making a snap judgement that someone is a "change resistor" can be just as deadly. Often times they aren't resisting at all - they're just trying to make sure that important issues aren't overlooked in the haste to move forward (sometimes they are resisting, but it's open mindedness and consideration that help you make the call and know how to handle the situation)!

Like every other tool on the planet - thin slicing is good for some things and not for others - that's the fun in life - figuring out when all these neat tools do and don't apply!

Stephen Denny

In case you haven't seen it, take a look at Jerry Zaltman's How Customers Think -- he spends a good amount of the book explaining how we're walking bundles of bias. Thin slicing, in other words. Excellent point.


A former US general called John Boyd developed a tactical concept which is quite analogue to the idea you described.

It's called "Destruction and Creation" and deals with the fact that Scenery is observed, cut into small pieces and in the end every single unit is handled loosened from its original meaning.

Thesis Destruction and Creation

Robert Hruzek

Roger, thanks for clearing that up on your post! My first reaction when I read it (and others' posts about it) was just what you said here.

It's important to note: when you thin-slice anything (people especially), you are using your own frame of reference - BIG potential for trouble! Caution is the word!

Roger von Oech

Ann: I guess that's the "art of tool-using."

Stephen: I love the phrase: "walking bundles of bias." I'll have to check out Zaltman's book.

Zensura: Noted.

Robert: I agree. That said, our biases, agendas, and experiences kick in for most of what we do. But when we're trying to be creative, fair, or open-minded, they get in the way. Sort of like what happened to the "Gang of 88" Duke faculty members who jumped in and condemned the Duke Lacrosse team right after the alleged rape.

Valeria Maltoni


It's fascinating how the brain works though, isn't it? Evolution trained it to *jump* to conclusions that may be potentially life saving.

When I was working with brain-injured children, my favorite lectures to interpret where the ones that contained the story of brain vs. computer -- wet system vs. dry system. The wet system (brain) is remarkably accurate for making a snap decision -- it *goes for* something making a quick assumption or two when the information is incomplete.

The dry system (computer) will make a less accurate decision by going through the process of *eliminating* all the other options.

And all this without us being involved in the decision consciously -- it has been proven that we do a lot of thinking in the back room of our brain, while consciousness allows only a thin portion of that to seep to the fore and be displayed for us and others to see/be aware of.

Paul Hebert

If I remember correctly, one of the points made in Blink is that thin-slicing works best when the person doing the slicing has some expertise, knowledge, background or education relative to the thing that is being "sliced."

Roger von Oech

Valeria: Wonderfully provocative comment. Thanks.

Paul: Thanks. As I see it, that's the paradox of knowledge as it relates to coming up with original ideas and approaches.


Hi Roger.

A comment was left on my blog to check out yours, so here I am. I'm intrigued, just after reading a couple of your posts. By day, I work as a counsellor and facilitator and by early morning and late evening, I write.....ideas and "left handed" perception feed and enhance my intuition.

One can easily stay within the parameters of sameness........ but honestly? I think I would shrivel up and waste away if I didn't have a job and a life which allowed me an opportunity to generate original ideas.

I'm interested in your creative think approach............look forward to reading more of your thoughts.

Take good care.........enjoy your sunday evening Roger.........

Paul Hebert

To your point about the "knowledge paradox" when trying to come up with new ideas. I think this makes the case for things like the "Medici Effect" wherein it is critical to have multiple points of view when trying to create something new and different. We must constantly seek different points of view and frames of reference if we are to grow in our thinking.

Cam Beck

Good post, Roger. I would also add that we should use thin slicing with caution as relying solely on it too much can also serve only to reinforce our prejudices and mire us in circular, uncritical thought. That's a recipe for stagnation.


That's understandable that money can make people free. But how to act if one does not have money? The only one way is to get the loans or financial loan.

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