Creative Challenge


It is historical continuity that maintains most assumptions not a repeated assessment of their validity. Traditional is a specific reason for keeping things the way they have always been. In certain cases the value of a tradition may need to be challenged. Traditional is useful value but does not override all other values. Talk about challenge is perhaps the mopst basic of all creative processes. Without Challenge, we would be content with things the way they are. We would never try to make improvements or change things. If something worked reasonably well, we would be content with that. Also challenge is not just a matter of setting out to find ideas around a subject but of challenging something specific that exists.

Meanings of creative challenge :

  • The ability to seek the many ways.
  • The ability to find the uniqueness.
  • The ability to challenge the situation in order to develop ideas & solutions. It is a way to look   for alternatives to the existing ideas & practice it.

(The creative challenge is one of the most important processes of lateral thinking. It is extremely important to realize that challenge is not an attack, a criticism or a way to demonstrate that the status quo is inadequate, but it is a challenge to “uniqueness”, an explorative research of other possible solutions).

Meaning of Critical Challenge :

  • A judgment challenge (Critical come from Greek “kritikos” that means judge).
  • Set out to show that something is faulty or inadequate and then set about improving or changing the way something is done.

That means in critical challenge, when someone try to challenge the way of doing things it is because of something that he think is not good or wrong. So, he try to criticize, and try to find faulty or mistakes that have been done before.

Differences between Critical Challenge & Creative Challenge :

  • Critical challenge sets out to criticize, judge or find fault, whereas the Creative challenge does not set out to criticize, judge, or find fault.
  • Critical challenge : when something is defecting, then we try to challenge it, whereas for creative challenge : everything is okay but still need to challenge it.
  • Critical Challenge is reactive, Creative challenge is proactive.

Why De Bono invite us to challenge our selves ?

As we already mentioned above, there is big difference between critical thinking and creative thinking. In this kind of thinking (creative) we are trying to challenge ourselves in some situations no matter how excellent they are.

We are human beings and in our nature is to follow easiest ways in live, so if there is already some way or method of doing some things, mostly we do not search for another or different ways even if they could be much better.

For instance, if we are living somewhere in KL and we have to come every day to university. We are using the same road every day and we don’t even think about other ways because we already know how long it takes from home to university or some other reasons. So here is coming one of the roles of creative challenge and we should challenge ourselves to search or travel using other ways, like local roads, maybe it is easier because there is no traffic jam. Hence, we are challenging ourselves when is everything well, going smoothly like in this case when there is no traffic jam, but not when is traffic jam than searching for other options.

Creative challenge is all about WHY. But in this case why is not to ask for reasons to explain but to see why it has to be done on that way, why cannot be in a different way.

There are three types of why:

–         Why/A

–         Why/B

–         Why/C

In practice, it is easier to use those three types of challenge in reverse order.

Why/C – stands for cut, necessity. We ask can we just remove this and do without it? Do we really need this at all?

Why/B – stands for reasons behind what we do. Are those reasons still valid and can we escape from demands of these reasons?

Why/A – stands for alternative, uniqueness of something, are there other alternatives?

For example: If we are students and we live nearby Taman Melati. One day our car cannot start but we have to go to school because we have to do final test. First we ask why/c – do we really need to go to school. Yes because we have exam. Then it comes others why/b and why/a. Why/b – what are reasons why we cannot go to school. Car is broken. Is this valid reason to skip exam? No. Than it comes why/a, or alternative. We use taxi or bus.

Continuity Analysis :

Dr. Edward De Bono uses the term continuity analysis in his book, Serious Creativity, as one of the sub-topic in creative challenge. The meaning of continuity analysis is about doing something using the same idea or concept.

Why do we do things as we do?

There are many possible answer to this question because every people has different reason but there are three common reason why people do things as they do:

1. Because it was the best way of doing things and it still the best way of doing things.

  • Means that people tend to do something the same way because the used to do it the way they usually did it. So they never change the idea of that thing and they will think that is the best way and there is no other way which is much better.
  • As an example, Students nowadays tend to study last minute or make a last minute preparation for the examination. They thought that this way is the best way because they always pass in the exam even though they made a last minute preparation. So they will continue doing it this way and never challenge themselves to change.

2. Because we have considered changing to a better way but the cost of change and the disruption of change are such in balance we have chosen to stay with this way.

  • We have considered or we have intention to change to a better way but the cost of change, in terms of money, energy or everything make us stay with the same concept or idea. Because of this, we never challenge ourselves to find another idea which is better than before.
  • For instance, most of us usually go to class by walking from mahallah to the campus. We have considered to go to class by motorcycle or by car but the cost of motorcycle or car is high and most of the student can’t afford to buy it. Just because of that, we never try or challenge ourselves to find alternatives or new ideas to change. Maybe we can collect money every month and make savings for ourselves but we never challenge ourselves to do it which leads us to stay with the current way or idea.

3. Because we never challenge ourselves and never pressure ourselves to change.

  • This is the most important reason which makes us to do things continually the same way because we never tell ourselves to challenge the original idea or we never pressure ourselves to change. We just wait for a problem to come then we challenge ourselves to think about how to solve it.
  • From the previous example, we never challenge ourselves to be ready maybe one month before examination or maybe one week at least. Or maybe we never challenge ourselves to save some money every month just to but, at least, a motorcycle so we can save much time going to class.

Because of all this reasons, things continue because they continue. We never challenge ourselves to change the main idea and we always do things in the same way even though sometimes it doesn’t work.

Types of Continuity (Factors of Continuity).

In creative challenge, there are many types or factors that lead to continuity.  All the factors are influencing and limit our action for not trying something new. It sometimes made us rigid, and be the same as what we are doing over and over again.

  • The first factor is neglect.  According to this factor, we tend to do things in certain way simply because we have neglected to think about them. We have never tried to see of the new possibility to make something better. For example, some student tends to study last minute because they neglect to think the importance and the benefit of studying earlier and well-planned.  That’s why they choose to study last minute as they comfortable with it and never try to plan their studies. Second example is, we sometimes neglect to use newspaper to cover our head and body to go to school during rainy days instead of using umbrella.
  • Next is lock-in. This factor explains about individual tends to do something because we have to satisfy someone else or to match with some other requirement.  It means that we do something because to make sure our work or action will be accepted surely by other person or to make them happy. For instance, it usually happens in the workplace or schools. Students usually need to fulfil the criteria given by the teachers or lecturers, of what the lecturer’s interest, in order to get the good marks. Sometime their creativity of doing things is blocked because they need to do something due to other people interest. Sometimes, students tend to stick with one method of having discussion for doing assignment. They tend to follow the group members to do meetings for so many times in campus rather than sending email or chat to discuss about the assignment. In order cases, students sometime choose the course to study due to their parent’s choice in order to make them satisfy. Thus, they cannot have freedom to think and decide things on their own.
  • The third factor is complacency or self-satisfaction. We tend to satisfy with something that always success and works. When a concept works and works, we come to believe that the idea is going to work always or forever. When things go wrong, we never challenge the current concept but to look for all sorts of reasons of why the concept is not working. Due to the previous example, student sometime feels very comfortable to study last minute because they always can score in the examination by doing that and it really works. However, when the result is not good, students usually tends to figure out of why they didn’t get good marks and find out what are the factors for it, but somehow they didn’t want to change their method of study because they think it is still alright. There are a proverb said, if you do what you always do, you will become what you always think. So why not we change a bit and challenges our creativity to create new and creative environment for our own good too.

Furthermore, time sequence also being a factor of why people do the same thing or work everytime. It is because of all the actions become a routine or being scheduled day by day. People tend to follow the routine and never try to use other alternatives. For example, most of IIUM students tend to use the same route to go to class as they think it is the very near and short in distance as long they can reach the class easily .They don’t want to challenge themselves to use the other route because they never try to find alternatives way for it. If they try to challenge themselves to find many other new routes, it might be very beneficial for us in any other days.

Overall, the continuity analysis is important to allow us to break free from the concepts and ideas that are only there through the process of continuity. Meaning that, we can know how to be creative, innovative and not rigid to try new alternatives even though we are in fine condition. Somehow it will help us to express our potentials and creativity as well. In Islamic perspective also Islam encourages us to do hijrah or change in our life for the betterment. It shows that it is important to have a continuity analysis so that we can do muhasabah for our goodness.

Step of Challenge :

1. Block it.

We block the current way or road of doing something or block the current idea and try to find other alternatives. It is need us to look for other ways and alternatives to solve the problem.

Examples : – in the exam, if we do not have ruler to make a line or to cut our attendance, we to find the other thing to use. So we use our matrix card to replace the ruler.

–         In cooking, if do not have onion we can use or replace it with the garlic

–         On the road, if we get traffic jammed we must find the other way that we can use to go to our destination.

–         In cooking also, if we cannot use coconut milk, we can replace it with the milk in canned.

  • Looking for other alternatives.
  • Block the current idea and try to find other alternatives.

Example : in examination, no ruler- use matric card.

2. Drop it.

The next step in creative challenge is Drop it. This step is something to do with dropping the idea. In this step we challenge the existing way of doing something which is not really needed. Sometimes, when we challenge something we will find that it is not necessary for us to do it. Even if we try to find out there are no need to do it at all. Besides that, at some other situation the method can just be dropped. Other than that, a slight adjustment can remove the need for the operation. Furthermore, at some other situation after a creative challenge we decide that the alternatives do not substitutes for the original. It can be conclude from this step that there is available road in front of us but by any chance we don’t want to use it. For example like when we want to invite people to come to our party. Usually we use invitation card but to challenge our self we use sms, mms, email or multimedia card. As for the simplest example we usually use bus to go to school and the bus is available but we don’t want to use it and wanted to walk to school.

3. Escape it.

The last step for creative challenge is escape. It denotes to escape from dominating idea but still satisfying a condition .if we escape from some dominating idea or from the necessity to satisfy some condition then our minds are freed up to consider other possibilities .It is not much concern about alternatives but a concern about to escape from existing method.The escape also might challenge the idea or concept.For example the students escape from using an umbrella when its rain ,but use other possibilities like newspapers or banana’s leaves.Other example is we escape from using stairs or ladder to fix up something by using chairs to fix up things.

8 Ways to Escape.

8 ways to escape ( how we can challenge ourselves ? )

1.     Dominating Interpretation.

2.     Dominating Essensial factors.

3.     Dominating Assumption.

4.     Satisfying a Condition.

5.     Avoiding Factors.

6.     Dominating the Concept or Idea.

7.     Dominating value of Preference.

8.     Limit Boundaries.


Creative challenge is a process of breaking free from the limits of accepted ways of operating.
With Challenge, we believe that the present way of doing things is not necessarily the best.
Challenge is not an attack or criticism.
It is the willingness to explore the reasons why we do things the way we do and whether there are any alternatives

Why is a creative challenge not criticism ?

1.     If a challenge were a criticism, we would only be able to challenge those things we see as inadequate, insufficient… The potential for a creative overview would be limited.

2.     If we cannot make an excellent case for inadequacy, then we would be unable to suggest we look for other ideas.

3.     Attack leads to emotional defence and the shutting down of the creative inclination.

4.     It is an exploration of uniqueness.

As Dr de Bono suggests, the tradition Western style is attack and criticise, then look for alternatives. The better style is to acknowledge things as they are, seriously and deliberately seeking for alternatives – there are a number of tools available for any situation – then compare the alternatives with the existing method.

Creative challenge encourages a certain sort of question:

  • Why is this though to be the only way to do things?
  • I would challenge that assumption.
  • Let’s find some other ways.Here are some method for creative challenge appications:
  • If we block something, we are obliged to move around the block we may have helped create. This is almost A Rule of Propriety in the Confucian sense.
  • Escape: If we are freed from an idea, an approach, a method, then we make a deliberate step to try and apply the idea. I have found an excellent substitute course on the internet. It has some content deficiencies. The site is an open forum. I believe we could contribute to the site and progressively remove the deficiency for the benefit of our students.
  • Drop it: Sometimes, after a creative challenge, we decide that the alternatives do not substitute for the original.

The creative challenge can be applied to something that exists or to the thinking that takes place during the creative effort. Why do we have to look at it this way? Why do we have to keep within these boundaries? Even when there is a formed solution or idea, that itself can also be challenged (or some aspect of it).


Edward De Bono’s new thinking;

Serious creativity. Edward de bono (2003).

Edward de Bono’s Lateral thinking (2000), by Advanced practical thinking training.


About intanelwahdy

Graduate of International Islamic University Malaysia B.A In Islamic Studies. Member of Majelis Intelektual & Ulama Muda Indonesia Branch Kaltara Member of Komisi Fatwa Majelis Ulama Indonesia Tarakan
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