Koi Carp

For some bizarre reason, we have a pond in our garden. In that pond are several fish who I’m afraid to say are not as happy as they once were.  Their home has mysteriously been partially destroyed and their current owners are completely inept at caring for fish (and most other things). So I’ve been asking myself – how can we make our collection of koi carp and goldfish a little happier?

I’m going to attempt to apply three of Edward de Bono’s Lateral Thinking techniques to this problem to see what creative solutions I can find.

  1. Generation of Alternatives:

While you may think there are several obvious or ‘best’ solutions to improve the carp’s life quality, this is vertical thinking.  Using this technique I’m not looking for ‘best’, I’m looking for as many different approaches to the problem as possible to disrupt old patterns of thinking and generate new ones.  To use this technique, I’m going to set myself a quota. 7 different ways of thinking about the problem:

  • Create a rota to feed the fish so they’re fed more regularly and don’t have to wonder where their next meal is coming from. This contrasts to our usual method of feeding them at random intervals when we happen to be standing outside
  • Add new fish in the pond. They might be bored with the current company and some new faces swimming around might generate a bit of excitement
  • Make an Instagram devoted entirely to the fish – showcasing each one and their unique talents. That way, they’ll feel appreciated and we might pay more attention to them
  • Swap their murky pond water for some gourmet mineral water – think Fuji or SmartWater – so they feel fancy
  • Move out of our house and let more responsible tenants move in
  • Let them die. The afterlife may well be better than their current life
  • Put Patxi back in the pond. It might be the best thing that ever happened to them
  1. Random Input

Our brains are always trying to make connections, even between seemingly unrelated themes. By choosing a word at random we can disrupt old patterns of thinking and allow them to form in new, interesting ways. I’m going to use a random word generator to come up with another 5 solutions to a problem:

  • Frozen: Bring out some fish fingers from the freezer to show them how good their life is in comparison
  • Fence: Build a fence around the pond so they feel safe and secure knowing that Patxi can’t ever bother them again
  • Effort: Turn caring for the fish into a competition so that everybody living in the house goes to great lengths to keep the fish happy. For example, whoever tends to the fish the most / best that week has a meal cooked for them by the other housemates
  • Range: Buy the fish a new food so that they have some variation in their life. The food they have doesn’t look too exciting – no way for a koi carp to live
  • Recording: Create an ASMR track from the babbling sounds of the pond and sell it to raise some money so that we can afford to rebuild the pond
  1. Reversal

This method asks us to flip the information around – so that it is reversed to instigate intriguing new approaches to the problem. Again, this allows our minds to avoid predictable methods of thinking and lets solutions form in innovative ways. Rather than asking “how can I improve the lives of the fish in our pond?” I’m going to try out “how can the fish in our pond improve my life?”

  • I can use the time spent caring for the fish as a mindfulness activity every morning – clearing my mind before my day at SCA
  • Spend time studying them as a starting point to learn more about aquatic life, which may serve as an intriguing and useful dot at some time in the future
  • Use the pond as a canvas to practice creativity and art direction and redesign the pond to improve both its aesthetic and practical function
  • When I get lonely, I can talk to the fish so that they become like friends to me. I can give them names. Then I won’t be able to help but worry about them every night as I’m falling asleep. Also my voice may sooth them but probably not

So, these are just three lateral thinking techniques to arrive at unique solutions to a problem. While I’m not sure the fish will actually benefit from any of these solutions, or whether I’ve even used them correctly, it’s definitely helpful to practice applying these methods to a silly problem.

Pray for the koi carp x

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