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Weekly 3: Increasing Focus, Six Thinking Hats & Talent Stacks


Idea Journal Weekly 3

October 29 · Issue #6 · View online
We combine 3 ideas to help you think differently and be more creative.

#1. As the number of potential distractions increases, the ability to focus could be the "superpower of the 21st century."
In a blog post about how to increase attention span, author Eric Barker suggests that those “who can sit in a chair, undistracted for hours, mastering subjects and creating things will rule the world …”
Barker offers five tactics for increasing your attention and focus in what some have called an age of distraction
  • Reduce stress
  • Use your best hours – work when you have the most energy
  • Dedicate blocks of time to focus on a project
  • Pursue one thing at a time – multitasking doesn’t work
  • View attention span as a muscle, and use meditation to exercise it
#2. Use the Six Thinking Hats framework to have more structured and effective group brainstorming sessions. 
Physician and creativity consultant Edward de Bono developed Six Thinking Hats based on the premise that there are multiple ways of thinking through a given subject.
To get the most out of the technique, he recommends that teams use only one thinking hat at a time. For de Bono, what makes the most successful teams so creative and innovative is an ability to tap the collective wisdom of their members and “think in parallel.”
#3. Identify your "talent stack" -- the particular combination of strengths and skills that make you unique -- to increase the value of your work. 
As author Scott Adams points out in a Dilbert blog post, capitalism rewards things that are both rare and valuable. For people who want to do “something extraordinary,” he suggests two strategies: 
  • Become the best at one specific ability, or
  • Get pretty good at two or more useful skills “until no one else has your mix”
With the model of a software application’s technology stack in mind, Adams writes in a separate post that a person can create their own talent stack with the following formula: develop a variety of “good-but-not-special skills” that complement each other and, when combined, create a whole that is stronger than the sum of its parts. 
For Adams, the concept of the talent stack is responsible for his own success: there are plenty of people who excel at either writing or drawing, but there aren’t very many people who are even above average at both writing and drawing.
He writes that this combination, along with “ordinary business skills, my strong work ethic, my risk tolerance, and my reasonably good sense of humor” created just the right recipe for him to become a commercially successful syndicated cartoonist. 
Quote of the Week: "In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king."
- Attributed to Desiderius Erasmus in The Adages of Erasmus
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