This post is a summary and expansion of Tina Seelig wonderful talk at 99U on the process of creative thinking and ways it could be improved.
Let’s go through innovation engine bit by bit.
Which one of the questions has more answers?
- 5+5=? or
Words we choose to define a problem limit the options for possible solutions. Example: Party vs celebration. By changing the word we can open up all sorts of possibilities. Framing and reframing problems increase your imagination substantially. Seek expansive definition of a problem at hand.
Conect & Combine
Connecting and combining ideas is another method which may yield surprising results. Another method I have heard to boost creativity is reading dictionary word by word.
That is an extra look at the problem and seeing if it’s possible to redefine and reframe the problem and perhaps rethink underlying objective of the task.
Knowledge is a toolbox for your imagination. The more tools you have to work with, the better the creative process. One of the powerful methods to obtain knowledge is to pay attention. Often solutions to everyday problems lie beneath our feet and could be seen if one pays attention.
If you are not driven, motivated and have confidence that you can solve your problem, you will not solve it. It is not easy to come up with big ideas. And it is sure not easy to bring them to life.
Most people are like puzzle builders. They see the picture on the box and they know what they have to get, but if they are missing one piece in the puzzle it’s over. True innovators are quilt makers. They take all the things they have at their disposal and leverage them to come up with solution.
This closes the inner circle of innovation. Knowledge gives material to create. Imagination transforms knowledge into creative ideas and attitude is the spark that gets it all going.
However quite often we find ourselves in environments where creativity is squashed.
Habitat is the people you work with, the rules and incentives. Often we miss out on the physical space. Think of school classroom for little ones with lots of colors, toys, stimulants and industrial like – college classes. You get the picture. Out of college people often go and work in places like the one on the left.
So no wonder we are questioning people’s creative thinking. The environment shapes our thinking and companies that want to capitalize on their team’s creativity create environment where it could be nurtured. Example of Google office in Zurich on the right.
Most people immediately think of money as a resource. Resources that are often more precious than money include: people, natural resources, processes, community. Make the best of what you have already and is within your reach now.
Culture is something that infuses the entire organization. How an organization deals with failure is a great tell of its culture. Great organizations treat failure as an outlandish data point. A perspective is of interest, not of disappointment.
About Tina Seelig Tina Seelig is the executive director for the Stanford Technology Ventures Program and the director of the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter) at Stanford University’s School of Engineering. She teaches courses on creative thinking, innovation, and entrepreneurship in the department of Management Science and Engineering, and within the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford.
Seelig earned her PhD in 1985 from Stanford University School of Medicine, where she studied Neuroscience. She has been a management consultant, multimedia producer, and an entrepreneur. Tina has also written 16 popular science books and educational games. Her newest books are Wish I Knew When I Was 20 and inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity.