Scientific Proof – We’re Terrible Ideators: The Cause and How to Overcome It.

Look at this brain scan. Both images are from the same person. It reveals an interesting explanation for why we lack the ability to easily come up with truly transformational ideas.

The same part of the brain fires up whether we’re thinking about the past or thinking about the future.  That’s the challenge!  It means we rely on our past experiences and existing contexts to help us think about the future. The result however, is that it leads to good ideas while the great ones elude us.

We must break the connection to our past, for even a few short hours, if we are to freely explore the expansive field of creative solutions that lies beyond our past. But how?

Leo Chan, an innovation and creativity leader, certified Creativity Coach and LEGO® Serious Play® Facilitator offers up some effect suggests.

Fool Your Brain into Changing. Use the Props Game. This activity uses everyday objects and forces you to think differently about its use; creating a “remapping” of your past contexts. For example, grab a coffee mug. How might it be used as a security alarm?

Invite A Naïve Expert. Get someone who has absolutely nothing to do with your project and bring him/her into the ideation session. The naïve expert won’t have the baggage of cognitive bias or historical restrictions and will be able to provide brand new thinking.

Use Random Input. To stimulate our brain out of the past, we need to provide it with new sources of material. Grab a random object – a stapler, a photo, a book. Describe the role the object could play in solving the challenge at hand. You’ll be surprised what you discover.

Use What If/Imagine If. Write down all the rules (or assumptions) associated with the particular problem for which you are solving. Then, ask “What If we could break those rules, or even just one?” The more provocative, the better. Then, Imagine If those new rules actual materialized? Describe the problem in those new terms and how you could operationalize it?

IN THE END, although our past can dictate our future, we don’t have to let it. These techniques can be powerful ways to ignite a new unexpected future in a way that far outshines the past.

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