NHS Trafford service reform lead Hannah Lowry reviews How to Have Creative Ideas by Edward de Bono, and asks whether it can help the NHS develop new solutions to old problems.

The premise of this Edward de Bono book is that creativity is not something we are necessarily born with or without, but rather that it is a learned skill, just like cooking or tennis. Some people will have more natural talent than others, but we can all develop and improve our skills with regular practice.

I like this concept. With unchartered territory ahead of us in the NHS, it seems a good time to learn how to think differently.

The book gives a short introduction and then a selection of exercises, in the form of games to play to help hone the creativity “muscles”, which it suggests you do once a week. My colleagues at a learning set of which I am part agreed to try out some of the games. They were fairly easy to convert into a group activity and we chose four out of the 62 games suggested.

Our first observation was that as all the games are based around using random words, they felt a bit “samey”; quite ironic for a book on creativity. Having said that, we did enjoy them, particularly one where we were to use random words to build a story.

The group had a mix of opinions, with some doubts about how effective the games would be.

My view was that the exercises did help, to some extent, to wake up the part of the brain that we use to make mental leaps and could be used as an ice breaker at the beginning of workshops or training courses.

I’d recommend having a look at this book. A bit of creative thinking might help us to find new solutions to some of our old and, (seemingly), intractable problems in the health service.