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odd man out

spadeLooking for a fun exercise to get your creative juices flowing.  Try Edward De Bono‘s odd man out exercise.  It is simple, fun, and as my friend Artie Isaac would say, it is a great way to “exercise your creative pet.”

Start by going to a random word generator site like this one.  Take the first 4 words you get (no trading) and list them.  Then think about which one does not make sense with the other 3 and why.  Make sure to stick to conceptual differences, and refrain from things like these 3 have the same number of letters, or end in s.  Think a little.  Be creative.  Then write down your creative reasoning.  Spend 60 seconds or so articulating the difference between the one item and the others, as well as the similarities of the 3 that you grouped together.

If you like, use the same 4 words, and try to pull out a different one.  The second time through might be more challenging, but you can do it.

This exercise and 61 others like it are listed in Edward De Bono’s book, Creativity Workout.  I am finishing out 2009 by doing one of these exercises every morning, so that by 2010 my creativity is healthy, strong, and ready to move mountains – or maybe just draw a picture or write a song about them.

In my first attempt at this I got the words spade, thermometer, frock, and knife.  My first assessment was that frock was the odd man out based on the idea that the other 3 are human tools that use metal to accomplish a task – taking temperature, digging, & cutting.

The second time around I decided that thermometer was the odd man out.  Knives, spades, and frocks can all be found on playing cards, but to the best of my knowledge there are no thermometers pictured on any of the 52 cards in the deck.

If you try it, tell me what 4 words you got, which was odd man out, and why in the comments.