Connecting the Dots to Boost Creativity
The thing about creativity is that it's not about making something out of nothing. Everything we need to be creative is here, and it's already in the world. We need to connect the dots and see the invisible links. That's what creativity is all about: to use the already existing as a steppingstone to new ideas.
In the world we're living today, creativity has become a crucial factor of thriving. With AI down the corner, we need to teach us how to connect the dots, using a multidisciplinary approach to finding and solving problems. We can no longer rely on an educational system created in the past. The upcoming Fourth industrial revolution requires us to be creative thinkers essentially.
We connect the dots by the cross-pollination of ideas. It is, at its core, taking a solution to a problem in one field and applying it to another using analogy. Knowledge is flexible and transferable. Creative thinking is all about eliminating borders between areas of operation, getting ideas from things that at first sight have no relation. The power of a creative thinker is to see what no one else can't—combining strengths and knowledge in different fields.
One easy technique to do that is to look at familiar things and places in a new way. Be a novice, ask seemingly "stupid" questions about the object. Make a list of your questions and answer them one by one. You will see that you'll gradually start to perceive it in a new light and connect its application to different fields. Ask "Why?" or "How can I use this differently?". Deconstruct the matter into its main parts. Then take each slice and deconstruct it again. List the different pieces, recording at least 20 items. There are no wrong answers on your list. Somewhere lies a new connection, a new analogy. Do this simple exercise with everyday and familiar objects. You will see how you will slowly begin to see new relationships. New ideas will start popping into your mind. Let your subconscious brain do its magic and connect the seemingly unconnected.
Thinking in analogies requires a wide span of attention. Be aware and on the lookout for new associations, and notice when they emerge. Forget the narrow thinking and use your mind as a creative funnel: a lot of information going in, mixing until at the end it appears as a new, concentrated idea. Observation is a skill to develop and refine, and it needs deliberate practice. Your goal is to notice everything and use it as building blocks for your ideas. Spread your focus of attention, observe, and absorb.
The creative solution we need often comes unexpected, and only the open and prepared mind can notice it.