Change Implementation Techniques for Forming Transitional Team, Creating Alignment, Maximizing Connectedness and Creativity

Technique 6.16 Fan Concept

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(Logic tree)


This is based on the concept that

"...those individuals who can generate several representations of the same idea or concept are far more likely to come up with potent synthesis than those who are limited to a single, often attenuated representation of the idea..."

Howard Gardner, 2006a

One of the techniques of creative or lateral thinking. It is an achievement technique which asks

- how do we solve the problem?

- how do we achieve a task?

- how do we get somewhere we want to go?

It is a framework to generate alternative ideas by providing a succession of fixed points

It is a structured way of listing alternatives

Starts with a very broad statement and becomes increasingly specific.

At each point participants ask, "How do you get to this point?"

The concept of a fan provides new focus points

It is a way of working backwards from a desired outcome/objective to identify practical, alternative ways of achieving an objective

Emphasis is on action, not description or analysis

Design of Concept Fans

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Directions = these are very broad concepts or approaches. The broadest concepts you can imagine become the directions;

Concepts = general methods or ways of doing something;

Ideas = specific, concrete ways of implementing a concept. An idea must be specific, and it must be possible to put an idea directly into practice.

(source: Edward deBono, 1992)

Seven Examples of the Fan Concept


The 7 examples show how by using the structured fan concept you end up with many more alternatives or possibilities than if you had an unstructured brainstorming session. Like other creative tools, the aim is to produce as many as possible alternatives and not to worry about the suitability (that will come later).

The last example is a variation of the fan concept and is called a logic tree

Remember: even though you initially go in one direction, you can pursue another direction later on.

First Example

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(sources: Edward deBono, 1992; Bill Synnot, 1999)

Second Example

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(source: Simon Burtonshaw-Gunn, 2008)

Third Example

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(source: Bill Synnot, 1994)

Fourth Example

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(source: Edward deBono, 1992)

Fifth Example

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(source: Graham Hubbard et al, 1996)

Sixth Example

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Seventh Example

A Variation of the Fan Concept is the "Logic Tree" for Generating Fresh Magazine Article Ideas

The logic tree begins with a high-level question that is broken down into increasingly specific queries. Often the questions five or six levels down are most fruitful. Such is the case in the example of a music magazine trying to rethink the way it generates story ideas. The questions on the first few branches are quite general ‐ probably the ones the editors would ask every day. But say we move down a branch (as we have here along one particular one in bold), we can see that the questions get more specific and perhaps more original. For example, the question, "How can we make readers experts on the trend?" yields 3 intriguing possibilities that, in turn, lead to further questions that are still sufficiently abstract yet focused enough to work. Following the other branches leads to equally stimulating possibilities.

(source: Kevin P Coyne et al, 2007)

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