Chaos, where brilliant dreams are born.
Do you ever get this feeling that when you read the same stuff over and over and then you try to read something completely unrelated you become bored very easily? Well that’s a very bad problem to have if you want to get into the business of ‘doing innovation’ because breakthrough ideas rarely come from looking in the same place.
You want some new ideas everyday? Read stuff that’s unrelated to your field. John Jantsch calls this ‘the single best way to discover innovation’ and he’s right, the best ideas come from the intersection between ideas from different domains.
Recent research says that the ability to associate between different ideas is one of the key skills of innovators, so you would do well to cultivate a habit of coming up with ideas by combining them not just in different ways but from different domains. For example if you’re into science (like me) then read art and if you’re into art then read science. If you’re a wine lover and know how wine is made, learn how milk is made.
After you’ve done this for a while and get used to tasting something new, go farther. As in go crazy and push your minds associative abilities farther. For example: Let’s say you want to design a very sturdy looking chair, go to your backyard and search for a strange insect like a Praying Mantis, and then examine it closely with a magnifying glass and look at how it’s legs are very thick looking. Take pictures of this, and then do some in depth research on it and see how you can apply some of it’s mechanics to your chair design.
This example might not land you a breakthrough but I think you get the point. With so much information out there, the ability to filter and then make sense of it can and will land breakthrough ideas at some point and by practicing your associative abilities you’ll be much more ready to spot unrelated connections that may make sense.
This phenomenon is explored deeply in The Medici Effect from Frans Johansson, a book that shows us how breakthrough ideas most often occur when we bring concepts from one field into a new, unfamiliar territory. If you haven’t read it here it is free for download.
Onwards then to practice breakthrough thinking.