Mind channels are a useful creativity metaphor for the potential collectors in our minds that capture problems and stifle creativity. We keep trying to get a solution from the same mind channel, even though it doesn’t work.

The antidote is creative thinking and advanced creativity triggers. Otherwise, every time a related new problem arises, you’ll return to the same mind channels that succeeded before. If you stuff a new problem into an old mind channels that once worked, you generate the same old time-worn solution.

Here’s an example. How many ways do you think there are to represent “half of eight?” Write down the number.

Now list all the ways to represent “half of eight.” Spend at least 5 to 10 minutes. No peeking, please.

I’m sure you considered 4 and four. Here are some other ways people in my creativity meetings have represented “half of eight.”


1 x 4; 2 x 2; 3 x 1.25; 4 x 1; etc.

1+3; 2+2; 3+1; 5-1; 6-2; etc.

8/2; 12/3; 16/4; 20/5; 24/6; etc.


o and o which are the top and bottom half of 8.

You can even halve the 8 in all directions leading to an infinity of answers. Indeed, you might halve all representations of eight in an infinite number of ways. This can be done not only on 8, but on  eight ,  VIII ,  4+4 , and other ways to represent eight.


four; 4; IV; IIII; etc.

Ideographs to represent four in Chinese, Sanskrit, Arabic, Hindu, ancient Egyptian, etc.


100 (binary numbers); 11 (ternary numbers), etc.

Morse or semaphore code.

Deaf sign language.

Boat pennant representing 4.

Sign of Four (see the Sherlock Holmes story).

500 (1000 is the binary number for 8; one-half of this is 500).

10 and 00 (cutting 1000 in half).

When you dial ‘4’ on the telephone, its frequency represents “half of eight” in sound.


Show 4 fingers (4-year old does this when asked his or her age).

7:30 ( the German halb acht).

Hit the ground 4 times with your foot (what Clever Hans, the horse, did).

In a creativity meeting, you will only hear me say: “List all ways to represent half of 8.” It is heard, not written. Would you get into the following mind channel…..half of ate. And if you did, would you halve ATE in all directions. Would you write “hungry,” draw a half eaten apple, or an apple pie cut into pieces?

Much can be learned about mind channels from half-of-eight.

• Funneling of problems into set solutions leads to the quick fix, accepting the first adequate solution and denying your creative ability to find a better solution. Avoid the quick fix by setting a quota for three to five really different ideas before choosing a solution.

• Numerous, diverse mind funnels exist for all problems.

• In my creativity meetings, many solutions to this problem are found; yet each person discovers only a few. Work in creativity teams to share mind channels and shift paradigms. Use advanced creativity triggers in teams to ensure effective sharing of mind funnels, paradigms, and perspectives.

Do not rush when solving problems. A hasty choice leads to overlooking rich new possibilities. Creative thinking takes time and often means communicating with other people to discover new mind channels and paradigms.

The author of “Creativity Handbook: Shift Paradigms and Harvest Creative Thinking at Work” and “The Creativity Factor: Unlocking the Potential of Your Team.” 

He was the President of the Creativity College®, a division of Leadership Consulting Services, Inc, in Chapel Hill, NC, and has led numerous creativity meetings and workshops for many companies, including IBM, DuPont, Amoco Chemical, Ciba-Geigy, Hoechst-Celanese, Texaco, AT&T Bell Laboratories, Milliken, Federal-Mogul, Thetford, Standard Products, and many others.