Recently, many people have been stressing the importance of enhancing creativity in organizations. Presumably, with more creativity comes more innovative products, services, and processes. However, many leaders and firms forget that the important first step in the creative process involves "wiping the slate clean." Think of it this way: If you have done something wrong, you must first face up to your sins before you can move forward effectively. That is the concept behind confession in the Catholic Church, for instance. You want to get rid of the baggage that is holding you back and move ahead free of those past mistakes, addictions, grudges, etc.
With creativity, a similar process must take place. You have to get rid of old baggage first, before you can truly engage in bold new thinking about a challenging issue. By that, I mean you to engage in a process by which you question existing mental models, assumptions, and conventional wisdom. How does one do that? You have to put all the "givens" of today and yesterday on the table, and then be ready to discard many of them. Even if you think certain assumptions still hold true, you might have to ask yourself: What if this assumption no longer holds? That exercise can help you see the world differently.
To begin, you have to surface and identify all the implicit cognitive frameworks, models, and presumptions that constitute the current ways of thinking and working in your organization, industry, etc. Often, the implicit cognitive elements prove to be more formidable barriers to creativity than the explicit aspects of your organization such as the formal mission statement, strategic goals, etc. Getting at the implicit "ways we think and do things around here" can take awhile. Many of us take for granted certain things and aren't aware of these implicit cognitive elements of our firm's culture and strategy. After surfacing these building blocks, you have to question each of them, and ask: "What if these no longer hold true?" Then, finally, you must ask yourself what alternative mental models and assumptions might replace them. Those three steps can then help you "wipe the slate clean" before you try to "create" new ideas, products, services, and the like.