Frans Johansson, author of The Medici Effect, suggests some exercises to foster innovation. I’ve modified three suggestions for readers who may be considering a career change or starting a business.
The thesis of the Medici Effect is that innovations arise when unrelated concepts and cultures come together – the intersection of previously unrelated worlds. The same principle holds when you’re feeling stuck as you consider options for your own next move.
If you’ve got some downtime over the next few weeks, or you’re struggling with a tough decision, try any of these three creativity-shakers.
#1 : Keep track of your ideas. As you have a new idea, jot down a diagram in a notebook. Don’t try to fill in the details. Over the next few weeks, new ideas will come to you, so you can fine-tune your idea and hopefully transform your idea into reality.
#2: Challenge your imagination to do more. How many ways can you use a brick? Answer this question and you’ll think of five or six ideas. For real creativity-stretching, set a goal: thirty ways to use a brick! You can also challenge yourself to find thirty ways to use your skills or forty far-out business ideas you can launch from your home.
#3: Take a creativity walk. When you are stumped, leave your home and pick up, borrow or buy five or six objects that are completely unrelated to your challenge. Bring them back and ask how each object can help you find new answers.
One group applied this technique to ask, ‘How can we de-ice electric wires?’ An engineer bought a jar of honey on his creativity walk. ‘We could put honey on top of the pole and bears would climb after the honey. The wires would vibrate and ice would fall off,’ he suggested after awhile.
Well, the group didn’t hire bears, but they did bring in helicopters to vibrate the wires. Fun, isn’t it?
To motivate your creative writing, listen to Natalie Goldberg’s new CD, Old Friends: How to Write a Memoir. It’s more about kindling your enthusiasm for writing and getting to know Natalie Goldberg than about writing a memoir. The ideal holiday gift for any writers in your life.
Mark McClure says
Thanks for mentioning Natalie’s work – I can see how the writer in me might enjoy the exercises.
I also hadn’t heard of Frans Johansson – but did know of an exercise like the ‘creativity walk’.
And as I like to mind map (for myself and with clients) – this physical exercise could be an interesting feedback loop for the mind.
Only one way to find out…!