Friday, September 10

Sleight of Mind

Last week I spotted the word "innovation" in a rather useful context (see previous rant). The setting was the book Sticky Wisdom written by the ?WhatIf! company, and the context was as follows:
"if creativity sees the commercial light of day ... that's innovation ..." and
"creativity only becomes innovation when ideas become useful. In the business world that means ... starts to make money."
Perhaps that's enough incentive for you "innovators" out there to take more of an interest in workplace creativity? If so, then please read on.

My first axiom is that our brains are predisposed to categorise information in very traditional ways, and in ways which would be immediately recognisable to others. For example, we'll tend to store "grapefruit" right next to "pineapple" in a corner of our brains called "fruit".

This is a highly efficient filing system for recalling information, and for predicting the commonplace, but it means forming a few well-trodden paths around our brains. To stray off those paths is harder than we think: Connections are often made subconsciously in nanoseconds, which means we can't interfere with the process even if we want to!

This is where the fun and games kick-in. The challenge is to distract the brain, so it’s looking the other way when you come up with a new idea. If it’s watching you too carefully, then it might put the kibosh on your fledgling idea before it even reaches your conscious mind.

Here's Scene 1, suggesting how this trickery can work:
ANALYTICAL MIND: “We need a way to make our cars safer than the other manufacturers do.”
CREATIVE MIND: “Oh. Can't we have a party instead?”
ANALYTICAL: “Let's talk to the engineers about their roll-bars.”
CREATIVE: "Can we have party balloons?”
ANALYTICAL: “I think you might be missing the point really.”
CREATIVE: “Balloons in the car!”
ANALYTICAL: “So I'm visiting the engineers on my own, am I?”
CREATIVE: “We could bounce up and down on them!”
ANALYTICAL: “Hang on ... say that again please.”
CREATIVE: “Bouncy, bouncy, bouncy!”
ANALYTICAL: “Hmmm. How about balloons in the dashboard which inflate on impact?”
CREATIVE: “Oh. OK then."
ANALYTICAL: “That was a bit sneaky. You must tell me how you did that sometime.”
The cast of characters in this simple drama can come from anywhere. The important thing is the interaction.  More about how to launch these interactions when next I write.

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