Reproductive Thinking

We are programmed for safety and survival and are drawn to repetition. Opting for the known and comfortable has kept us close to the fire and the wolves at bay. Today we follow our daily routes to and from work. We buy favourite brands uniformly designed for availability, recognition and consumption. Then, following the commute, we just settle down out in the valley for a gin martini, a little Kelly… Clarkson during supper and a night of television. These choices reinforce our safety related programming and stifle our creative thinking.
As a result, the vast majority of us think reproductively, creating ideas pulled only from that which has worked within our own experiences.
Rather than creating a new concept, we sit duct taping ourselves solidly into that proverbial box we are often called to think out of.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself stolen from the processes of prolific creators that may help you steer away from the reproductive and speed down a whole new interstate of original thought:

  • What’s my theory of relativity? What baggage do I bring that sets my view?  What other perspectives are there to role play and view this creative challenge from? Each new view will identify details that don’t fit the status quo and that will drive new ideas.
  • How can I organize this visually? Sketch the problem and your creative approaches as typing is a an unnatural way to capture an idea. Refining the visual concept then typing out an explanation prepares an idea for communication through an approval process.
  • What is my productivity plan? Great creative means being greatly creative: Thomas Edison registered 1,093 patents and held himself to a personal quota of one minor invention every 10 days; Bach wrote a cantata every week; Mozart produced more than six hundred pieces of music; Einstein is best known for his theory of relativity, but he published 248 other papers. Dean Kean Simonton of the University of California, in a study of 2,036 scientists throughout history, found that the most respected produced not only great works, but also many more “bad” ones. Out of their massive quantity of work came originality.
  • Is there a unique combination – an amalgam of the previously unrelated? E=mc2 – Einstein did not invent the concepts of energy, mass, or speed of light but combined them in a new and highly unique way to see the universe differently.
  • Am I allowing opposites to coexist? Microsoft licensed part of the Apple GUI for use in developing Windows 1.0. Physicist Niels Bohr believed that if you held opposites together, then you suspend your thought and your mind moves to a new level. Check for resemblances between two separate ideas and the opportunities to link them together.
  • Do I have the tools I need? Chinese master painters believed genius only required the eye, the brush and the heart. They never mentioned the ink but what do I know.
  • Am I allowing a creative accident? In developing an idea always keep your eyes open to the unexpected byproduct as they are often creative insight of the highest order.
  • Blurt it out and populate the discussion – your first thoughts are often the most energetic so feed on that energy not just their content. Go back to them for a shot of creative juice if energy is at a low point.



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