“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” -Peter Drucker
Be an Explorer.
To create new ideas, we need the materials from which they're made: knowledge, information, feelings, and experience. We can look for these in the same old places; however, we're much more likely to find something original if we venture off the beaten path.
Indeed, many good ideas have been discovered because someone poked around in an outside industry or discipline, and applied what she found to her own field or problem. Mathematician John von Neumann analyzed poker-table behavior to create the "game theory" model of economics. Nineteenth-century English gardener Joseph Paxton modeled his design of the world's first glass-and iron building, the Crystal Palace, on his studies of the cantilevered rib structure of the giant water lily Victoria Amazonica.
Designer Charles Eames borrowed from his experience crafting custom-fitted plywood splints for wounded airmen during World War II to create a new line of aesthetically stunning chairs.
And World War I military designers borrowed from the cubist art of Picasso and Braque to create more efficient camouflage patterns. I've known advertising people who got ideas from biology, software programmers who received inspiration from songwriters, and investors who spotted new opportunities by going to junkyards.
A good explorer has the attitude that there's a lot of valuable information available, and all she has to do is find it. Here's a tip: open your mind up to things that have no connection with the problem you're trying to solve. Indeed, the more divergent your sources, the more original the idea you create is likely to be. If you go to an airport, you'll find ideas there. If you go to a museum, you'll find ideas there too. And the same applies to hardware stores, garbage dumps, circuses, libraries, political rallies, and wilderness areas. As inventor Thomas Edison told his colleagues: "Make it a practice to be on the lookout for novel and interesting ideas that others have used successfully. Your idea has to be original only in its adaptation to the problem you're working on." Where do you rarely look for ideas? What might you find if you went there?
Curiosity may have killed a lot of cats, but asking questions is the best way to learn about anything. As the Renaissance polymath Leonardo da Vinci put it, "I roamed the countryside searching for answers to things I did not understand. Why shells exist on the tops of mountains along with imprints of plants usually found in the sea. Why thunder lasts longer than that which causes it. How circles of water form around a spot that has been struck by a stone. And how a bird suspends itself in the air. Questions like these engaged my thought throughout my life." What are you curious about?
Expect The Unexpected Or You Won’t Find It (A Creativity Tool Based on the Ancient Wisdom of Heraclitus)
– Roger Von Oech
“Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good,
you'll have to ram them down people's throats.” -Howard Aiken
The Six Hats Method of Creative Thinking (part 5 of 5)
Thinking is the ultimate human resource. The main difficulty of thinking is confusion. We try to do too much at once. Emotions, information, logic, hope and creativity all crowd in on us. It is like juggling with too many balls.
The six thinking hats method allow us to conduct our thinking as a conductor might lead an orchestra. Putting on any one of these hats defines a certain type of thinking. Green hat thinking is concerned with new ideas and new ways of looking at things. Green hat thinking is concerned with escaping from the old ideas in order to find better ones.
Creativity involves provocation, exploration and risk taking. Creativity involves "thought experiments." You cannot tell in advance how the experiment is going to turn out. But you want to be able to carry out the experiment.
What Happens to the Ideas?
One of the weakest aspects of creativity is the "harvesting" of ideas. We tend to look only for the final clever solution. We ignore all else. Apart from this clever solution, there may be much else of value. There may be some new concept directions, even though there may be no specific ways of moving in those directions. There may be half-formed ideas which are not yet usable because they need a lot more work. New principles may have emerged even though they are not yet clothed in practical garments. There may have been a shift in "idea flavor" (the type of idea generated). There may have been a shift in the perceived solution area (where people are looking for solutions). There may be newly defined "idea-sensitive areas" (areas where a new concept could make a big difference). All these matters should be noted.
It should be part of the creative process to shape and tailor an idea so that it gets closer to filling two sets of needs. The first need is that of the situation. An attempt is made to shape the idea into a usable idea. This is done by bringing in the constraints, which are then used as shapers.
Note that the constraints are brought in as shapers and not as a rejection screen. The second set of needs that must be met are those of the people who are going to have to act upon the idea. Sadly, it is not a perfect world. It would be nice if everyone could see in an idea the brilliance and potential that is obvious to the originator of that idea. This is not often the case. Part of the creative process is to shape the idea so that it better fits the need profile of those who are going to have to "buy" the idea.
Six Thinking Hats
-Edward De Bono