"Genius is in-born, may it never be still-born."

"Oysters, irritated by grains of sand, give birth to pearls. Brains, irritated by curiosity, give birth to ideas."

"Brainpower is the bridge to the future; it is what transports you from wishful thinking to willful doing."

"Unless you keep learning & growing, the status quo has no status."

Sunday, March 8, 2009


In my training workshops with professionals as well as students, I often like to use creative challenges to demonstrate the many conceptual traps & perceptual fogs in our thinking when we look initially at problems.

Productivity guru Stephen R Covey puts it very beautifully:

"The way we see the problem is the problem."

Likewise, creativity guru Edward de bono, has this to say:

"Creativity takes place in the perceptual phase of thinking. This is where our perceptions & concepts are formed & this is where they have to be changed . . . Most of the mistakes in thinking are inadequacies of perception rather mistakes of logic . . . The reason that many opportunities pass us by is a perceptual one: we do not recognise an opportunity for what it is. An opportunity exists only when we see it."

According to psychologist Stuart Litvak, who wrote the classics, 'Use Your Head' & 'More Ways to Use Your Head' in the eighties, the following are the cogntive traps that often stifle our innate potential in problem solving:

- tendency to use logic;

- begin with certain assumptions, & build upon these additional assumptions;

- stake beliefs, affairs & worldviews in personally specialised universe;

- perceive things in piece-meal fashion;

- apply concept fixations;

- get stuck with labels & words;

- adopt panacea thinking;

In the course of my research & development into creativity training over the years, I have gathered the following questions from a lot of different sources to form a series of simple as well as complex creative challenges.

Please take a look at them, & explore as well as experiment how you can come up with some possible solutions. However, before your proceed, I would like you to read again & understand the cognitive traps I have outlined above.

In most instances, there is more than one answer.

1. What is considered the world's oldest word processor?

2. How many sides are there in a circle?

3. Most fruits have seeds in the inside. What fruit has seeds on the outside?

4. What letters are missing from your home telephone number pad?

5. Why was 6 afraid of 7?

6. How would you divide four apples in a basket to four kids & yet one apple still remains in the basket?

7. A man was reading a book in his living room when his wife, not realising he was reading, turned off the light, leaving him in the dark. Yet he continued to read without interruption. How was this possible?

8. What is hard when dry, but soft when wet, & yet you may get stuck with it?

9. Why is a manhole cover always round?

10. Exhaustive investigations carried out in more than a million vehicle accidents have very conclusively pointed to one component in the vehicle which is the key contributing factor. What component is that?

11. What do you sit on, sleep on & brush your teeth with?

12. How can you throw a ball so it goes a short distance, comes to a dead stop, reverses its direction, then goes in the opposite way? You are not allowed to bounce it off anything, hit it with anything, or tie anything to it.

13. "We are born on the same day of the same year," said Betty. "And we have the same parents," said Patsy, "But we are not twins," said Betty. Can you explain?

14. The manager turned off the lights in his office & got out of the building before things get went dark. How did he do it?

15. Three men were in a boat in the middle of the river. The boat capsized but only two of them got their hair wet. Why?

16. A girl dreamed she & her two friends were in a burning building. She saw a way to escape but she could only save one of her friends. The fire was coming closer & closer. What should she do?

17. The cobra is known to fear only one animal. What animal is that?

18. A dancer's sister died. But the woman who died had no sisters. How was this possible?

19. Lay six matches on a flat surface. Now arrange them so that they make four equilateral triangles. Can you do it?

20. At a coffee shop, a customer was shocked to find a fly in his coffee. He sent the waiter back for a fresh cup. After his first sip, the customer pounded on the table & shouted: "This is the same cup of coffee I had before!". How could he tell?


Well, if you feel that you are really stuck after racking your brain, just drop me an email at, but before you do so, I would like to encourage you to spend more time & effort to explore all possible solutions to the challenges on your own.

You will be amazed. Enjoy yourself!

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