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Creativit through ABC-lists ABC-lists are used as a creativity and thinking tool, developed by Mrs. Birkenbihl years ago. It can help you to solve problems, come up with new ideas or simply summarize gained knowledge.

Vera F. Birkenbihl developed ABC-lists. This creativity and thinking tool can be applied to all areas of life. Decades ago, Elizabeth Loftus found out that people remember information by listing them according to their first letter. This is the reason, why it is easier for us to recall information by using ABC-lists.

To create an ABC-list, you should start off writing down the topic, called the problem. You can do that by hand on a sheet of paper or electronically. Then you need to write down the alphabet vertically. There should be enough space to the right of the letters. Now you can start creating your list. Take about 2 – 3 minutes and write down everything that comes to your mind. Vilango GmbH The Birkenbihl Approach


You only need to comply with 3 simple rules: 1. Run over the alphabet – up and down! You do not have to start at the top and go down all the way. In fact, this is counterproductive. Wherever some association pops up, write it down and move on. By moving up and down all the time, more associations, ideas, formulations etc. will come up. Thereby, unconscious knowledge is used. This is knowledge that you are not aware of! Repeat the process of moving up and down several times. It is recommended to set a timer – 3 minutes maximum!

2. Gaps and multiple entries are allowed

No more pressure! When using ABC-lists you do not have to fill all blanks. If more than one association pops up – great! Write down as many as you want. If there are many gaps at the end of session one, you might fill them in the next sessions.

3. Literal arabesques, a sophisticated technique This is a technique for people who are already familiar with ABC-lists. It ensures more productivity. For more information, please contact us or participate in one of our free eSeminars. Vilango GmbH The Birkenbihl Approach


The ABC-technique for creative work This ABC-technique helps you to be ever more creative. By filling in the blanks of an ABC-list, you collect associations, which are “old connections” of our network of knowledge. If you do not now anything about a topic, you have a gap in the network. If you know a little bit about a topic, there might be a few “gnats”. If you know a lot about a topic, there are “clouds of gnats”. Associations are therefore generated by the connection of these gnats. This implies that we can only associate things we already know. Real creativity is described by the connection of two or more knowledge domains (seemingly unconnected) that results in a new development. Vera F. Birkenbihl also described it as “bi-sociative” creativity.

Vilango GmbH The Birkenbihl Approach


Consultation of ABC-lists To consult ABC-lists mean to “make sense of it”. You can consult one list you have created, more lists you have created, or lists somebody else has created. First, you should summarize double entries. You could even allocate weighting for all entries. Different associations, which actually state something similar, can be categorized. Thereby, you create a network of knowledge, which can help you and other persons to make decisions. Your lists can be the basis for new ideas that finally ease your life. Make sense of ABC-lists! In the previously published post I described the ABC-technique in details. However, I have not set out details about the last step of the technique: consulting the lists. Actually making sense of the lists to use the collected information is the most important step. Not consulting lists make your work useless. Therefore it is essential to follow these easy steps towards optimal consultation. First of all, it is fundamental to know that you can consult any ABC-lists – whether it is yours or not, whether you have created it or somebody else.

Vilango GmbH The Birkenbihl Approach


The step-by-step approach Step 1: Identify the problem at hand. It becomes most obvious when you write it down. Step 2: Consult the list. Do you know under which letter to search for? If not, you might use the method of letter lottery or even lists lottery. Letter lottery: Prepare little plastic balls with letters on it and keep it in a bag or can. Whenever you need a letter, draw a ball. Thereby, a letter is randomly chosen. Step 3: Produce spontaneous associations immediately. Speak your associations out load – within 90 seconds. It is suggested to draw or write down your associations in the moment they come to your mind. By documenting them, the danger of loosing them is limited. Step 4: Think through each of the associations separately. Hence, helpful connections are detected which might trigger new ideas. Step 5: Back to step 2. Repeat the process using other lists, if necessary.

These 5 steps describe the general approach. However, the process might be altered or interrupted. Sometimes the redeeming solution pops up during the first run. Sometimes you need 4 or 5 runs until you find a satisfiable answer. Vilango GmbH The Birkenbihl Approach


Statistically, one consults 2.5 ABC-lists. This is valuable information when starting off using ABC-lists, since you will need more time and runs at the beginning. Later on, you will get more used to thinking “in ABC-lists�. Remember: The first step is always the hardest.

Get more information about ABClists on our homepage for foreign language learning and life-time learning. Computer courses provide more information.

Vilango GmbH The Birkenbihl Approach


Creativity through ABC-lists