>> 5 September 2010
Your brain is an animal of habit. Whenever it sees or does something, it registers it. The more you see or do something, the stronger that registration is.
This registration is a link between two neurons and can be seen as your brain putting things in boxes or categories.
It comes very handy when you're a baby because it teaches you that the stove it hot.
Once. Twice. The third time the brain tells you not to touch the stove because it's hot.
It prevents you from burning your fingers.
On the other hand, it might also prevent you from touching the stove when it's not hot... you see what I mean.
Certain connections are so strong, they have become automatic triggers.
Creativity is all about breaking those worn paths and search for different links.
To give you an example:
A guy sits on the plane. He works for a glue company. He sees a woman use her lipstick and makes the connection to the glue. He invents the glue stick.
Now, creativity is not about having to invent new and groundbreaking products every day.
Nor is it about burning your fingers.
It is about seeing things differently and making connections your brain would not usually make.
It is a habit.
It is a skill.
And you can learn and practice it.
Let's say you are faced with a problem: meetings are unproductive, time is lost, people are not paying attention...
You need to change things but you're stuck and don't know where to start.
- First define and refine your problem. Phrase it for example as a more specific HOW TO sentence.
Example: How to get people to turn off their blackberries and phones during meetings?
- Then pick a random object (for example from this list or make one up yourself for future reference).
- Now write down a list of all the attributes of this object that come to mind (don't think or judge, just write them down):
sharp, cut, two fingers, dangerous, two parts, metal, silver, heavy, pointy, different sizes, weapon, crafty...
- Look at each of those attributes and try to find connections to your problem:
- put a metal box at the entrance for people to put their phones in
- put a pointer in the middle of the table: whenever anyone uses his phone, point it at him