Articles On Innovation and Creativity
For every thousand dwelling in the branches of Innovation, there is one who dwells at the root!


The Ladder of Sophistication

Posted in witsAbouton Jan 07, 2022

Imagine you want to sit down and write some music. There's a noble endeavor, it's altruistic and selfish at the same time. But first you have to learn how. Should be easy, you have a library of music books at hand and they can teach you. All you have to figure out is What do you want to know?
"How to write music?" as in what to draw on the page with your pen. or
"How to write music?" as in create something interesting and beautiful.
Ask the librarian an over broad question and you're likely to receive the wrong answer.

At the low end of the ladder are techniques for moving your hand to make the shape of the notes on paper. Drawing a vertical dash in the right place, then maybe add a tail and some kind of a head. Musical caligraphy.
At a higher rung up the ladder, there are arts of evolving music to portray emotions, cultures and times. Bring in some Asian percussion over top of the balkan rythm.
Musical language and it's grammar.
Sage advice from either end of these levels will often be meaningless to the other.
The ladder of sophistication thus becomes a fertile ground for misunderstanding, errors and head butting.

LEVEL 0 - Tell it to the robot

LEVEL 1 - Laying a good brick

LEVEL 2 - the usual patterns

LEVEL 3 - paradigms for fun and profit

 



Thinking Without Words

Posted in Blarticleson Dec 23, 2021

When I began to teach people how to be more creative by having better insights and more of them, I urged them to practice the single most effective mental discipline available: thinking without words. I advised them to start slow at first, just a few minutes at a time, then work up to several hours a day. For days unnumbered. This simple change in one's mental routine is essential for producing consistent epiphanies and improving them to a high level of quality. Most of the words in your mind are self-serving nonsense anyway so letting go of it is no great loss.

I was unprepared for the vehemence of the rejection to this suggestion. People passionately claimed there was no way they could go even a few seconds without thinking in words. And the idea that one could go for hours was preposterous. Yet I have a strong example of this that cannot be ignored: myself. I can stop the words in my head at a moment's notice, and keep them switched off for as long as I want. Hours or days. And I know someone else who's never thought in words too, ever. That makes two of us. So for all those that claim it's impossible, here is what happens when you think without words.

The first thing you notice is that you think much faster. You're much more in the present. Mental resources that you used to spend keeping up the flow of words, now amplify your senses. You notice more details in the world around you, and assemble your perceptions into larger blocks. You will think in rapid references to your own personal mythology of life long experiences and conclusions. The same goes for other people, behind their words and actions you now see the entirety of their bigger self. Their priorities, beliefs and agendas.

With the extra speed, you will have more time to think about what to say next in conversation. You can juggle the words in your next sentence before and while you're saying it, so you speak with greater precision. Composing words is more effective when you think without them. You can also analyze other people's words more accurately, hearing what they are saying with their words as well as what they are NOT saying. The complementary pair of what is, and is not, in general, is sharper and more in focus.

Your brain high on words Your brain without words

 

It's easier to perceive in a synesthetic fashion, with information from one sense triggering perceptions in another. Similarities, analogies and metaphors of the topic at hand spring easier to mind, and lateral thinking gets a boost.

More unique and creative ideas will bubble up from the darkness below, when there are no clumsy words to clog the flow. Think about a brainstorm session where the extroverts loudly repeat their conventional thoughts, but the novel ideas of the introverts go unspoken. Same thing happens in your own head. The loud predictable words are repeated, and inhibit the small voice of your meta self. Yet that's where flashes of insight come from. Being more respectful to others at meetings is like being more respectful to the big quiet self inside your mind. You want to have inventive ideas? Then learn to shut up.

You will hear the Song of the World. Instead of hearing a pile of separate sounds, most of which you suppress or ignore, you will add all the sounds together into one big song, and marvel at its beauty.

There is also "the anomaly." Things that you know and experience for which there is currently no rational explanation. Anomalous events happen more often when you stop thinking with words.

Talking with animals is much easier when you don't talk to yourself.

You don't hold grudges. Because you will no longer see the world as "things I like or don't like," there are much fewer disappointments, traumas, tantrums and vendettas. By removing your petty self from your observations, you will see the world as sequences of cause and effect, how things actually work. You will only worry about rational concerns, instead of "the sky is falling" misconceptions.

All of this sounds pretty fantastic, but does it actually happen? There are times when you naturally don't think in words, like digestion lethargy that happens after you eat, during intense activity like downhill skiing or playing ping pong, getting up at night to pee or during the physical act of love making. When your words stop naturally at these times, you don't go synesthetic, think in big blocks, get novel ideas, hear the song of the world or experience the anomaly. Whatever that is. So am I full of crap when I describe these things? No, I'm not.

You can't achieve this state of inner silence by a simple act of will. Suppressing the words with a clench of determination won't work. If you do manage to stop them for a moment, as soon as you have a memory, opinion, fear or desire, the words will start back up again. To keep them switched off, you have to deactivate all your attachments. Prejudices, hurtful motives, ego boosting misperceptions, and lazy repetitions all have to go. Thinking without words is a goal you strive for AND a reward for keeping a clean mind.

The enemies of inner silence are fear and desire, and those must be silenced. When you can be unmoved by all that you see and think, then you will be rewarded with a lack of words. To stop the words in your thoughts, you must also stop the immature emotions above them, that pull your strings like an unaccountable puppeteer. Then will you realize all the advantages and superpowers of thinking without words. It's actually much harder than you think.

At the far limit of thinking without words, is the ability to close your eyes and see the naked source of creativity. It's an unfathomable place where images and ideas flow and explode continuously. Without regard for you or anything about you. When you can stop both your thoughts and your untrained emotions, then you can see an indescribable place where fantastic shapes constantly appear and evolve. To recognize or remember anything you see at this geyser of creativity, is a great feat. One that I keep trying to achieve.

So to boost your creativity, and get more value out of life, strive to think without words. It takes less energy, that is more profitably spent elsewhere. But don't think it's going to be easy or happen in a few minutes. It will take some major reorganizing to pull it off, and the results are worth it.



The Biggest Misconception

Posted in Blarticleson Nov 21, 2021

INTRODUCTION

In my work teaching methods of innovation thinking, I will often start my lecture by asking my audience What techniques are you already using? The most common answer is usually the same: cram as many details of the problem as you can, and hope to get an answer before the competition.

Even though this is just about the worst strategy one can employ, popular and profitable businesses have sprung up to assist people in this misguided quest to avoid novel solutions. I won’t mention them here to avoid charges of heresy, but chopping details up into smaller and finer bits is not the way to go.

Answers that no one has seen before look weird. They look even weirder when they first pop into your mind. If you’re looking for breakthrough innovations, you won’t find them on the broad avenue of normal. Moments of invention are one of the highest forms of human achievement. Epiphanies for Dummies won’t work, even if you could buy a copy. You’ll have to slug it out in the trenches, the forests, and the skies to win the prize.

THE PRESUMPTION

The popular belief is that breakthrough inventions occur by assembling known aspects of the problem in new ways. So when a group becomes aware of a need for a solution, the race is on to become more learned, about more details, in less time. But these knee-jerk reactions to the quest for knowledge are often counterproductive.

Because tiny details of the problem are not the ideas that will later tumble, roll, and pop out as a great new thing. It’s like gorging on plastic fruit thinking that if you eat enough it will suddenly become nutritious. There’s even a name for it: analysis paralysis. When you get stuck reducing the problem into smaller bits, you’re not moving forward.

Graham Wallas defined the creative process in his book The Art Of Thought (1926) as four phases: Preparation, Incubation, Illumination and Verification. Cramming details and chopping them up is the Preparation stage. Illumination is the epiphany, and it comes after Incubation, which can take several forms.

The quality of your insight will depend on what you’ve fed into the slow cooker of your subconscious, how well it cooks the ideas up, and if the results can run the gamut of your filters and escape out your mouth.

Most people’s relationship with epiphanies show deep-rooted insecurities. Insights are random, unpredictable and can’t be trusted. Will I have one in time? How do I recognize the good ones? Who’s got the authority?

What’s everyone going with? Will they love me if I blurt out a great idea? Or mock me if I have a lousy one? Gotta stay safe! Epiphanies are mysterious when they happen and elusive when they don’t. The time crunch, battling with rivals, and risking social capital all adds up to a pile of stress, and we know how well stress and inventiveness get along. It’s like trying to honeymoon in front of your scowling grandparent. Hey, don’t douse my fire while it’s still just a spark!

INCUBATION OPTIONS

Here are some popular strategies for incubating your problem stew for good results.

1) Meditation It’s excellent. Thinking without words is the best innovation skill you can acquire. Words are inaccurate, squash subtleties and slow you down. Losing the words will allow you to think faster and with greater depth. It’s easy, just think like you normally would but without words. Start slow at first with a few minutes a day, then work up to hours at a stretch. The results are totally worth it! And don’t worry about following prescriptions from spiritual fads or ancient traditions. Sure, Secrets of the Universe are nice, sitting in a painful position, moaning and becoming one with ultimate bliss are good, but that’s a lot of extra baggage and infrastructure you don’t need. Just stop thinking in words and replace them with greater perception.

2) Next Problem This is a powerful technique used by super smarty pants types like Poincare` and Helmholtz. You prepare one problem, say in physics or chemistry, then move onto a different problem in a different field. The first problem incubates while you’re preparing the second. This worked well a hundred years ago, when science was bursting with new discoveries. Use this when you’re at the top of your game.

3) Keep Living A lot of people are hesitant to learn thinking without words, so they just keep on living. They surf, kickbox, vacuum, do laundry, chew gum and finger twirl their hair. This is the easiest and most common strategy, it’s the least sophisticated and produces base line results.

4) The Eaware Way Look for profound ideas wherever they may be, and mix them in to what you have studied. Hey did you hear about that new advancement in super capacitors? Or how about some techniques from math, morality or logic? Learning big ideas from somewhere else, that are profound and barely contained by words, are the missing ingredient you need. To instigate your insight, learn fundamental ideas from other times, places, and technologies. For example, Is and Does are a profound set of ideas. Also Noun and Verb, Perception and Manifestation, and Reduce and Integrate. Ideas like these that you have learned in the past few days will pull out your epiphany, like bubbles popping out of the darkness.



Grasping in the Dark

Posted in Blarticleson Nov 10, 2021

One day, while working at home on a video call, there came a knock at the door. Since I was not expecting anyone I thought: “That’s odd.” As one does. Seizing the occasion, I ended the boring call and ran to answer.
But no one was there, just a dry leaf tumbling down the street, blown by the wind. On the ground sat a cardboard box, about the size of a milk crate. It was addressed to me but there was no indication of the sender, or any mark at all. Only a single line of block letters, elegantly placed towards one corner, read:

 

IT’S A NEW THING
I picked it up, it had some weight, gave it a little shake, but nothing mumbled.
“Some promotion perhaps, in a cool edgy style?” I closed the door while scanning the neighbour's windows with suspicion, because I knew they were in there watching, and brought it in. Cut the tape with the knife on the table. Under the flap was another line of block text: MAKE IT A KNOWN THING
I opened all four flaps and there lay a most mysterious sight, the box was filled with darkness. So black that nothing could be seen. Almost to the top. I tilted it at various angles but the darkness stayed at the same level and didn’t move. I thought “This is unusually odd, what I can use this for?”
Moved by the instructions under the flap, I steadied myself, took a deep breath, and plunged my hands into the dark. Up to the elbows. It was neither warm nor cold and the box seemed the same size inside as out. Of course it would have to.
Something brushed my hand, what was that? a bluetooth speaker? I had just been shopping for one of those. Or was it, a new necklace for my wife? It had recently been explained to me how the old one is no longer working and a new one is required.
Fleeting impressions of things I’d been thinking of tantalized my fingers but nothing materialized. I decided to quiet my mind of any preconceived notions and began a rhythmic motion in my hands to help do this. Time slowed down, my breathing and pulse rate too.
On the radio came news of the government’s latest attempts to improve the ongoing health crisis. My hands flowed inside the box zen style.
Then, while a commercial played about “reliable customer demographics” through “quantified research,” I felt something more solid than before. But it too vanished. My hands swayed more slowly, now of their own accord. I became acutely aware of every event in the room no matter how tiny.
And then in the weird darkness of the cardboard box, that had been delivered to my door, my hands grasped something solid and held on. It seemed too large, as if it occupied a space greater than it's container. Which makes no sense. Now all I have to do is figure out what I’ve got here. If I let go will I be able to hold it again? That radio is becoming annoying.



I Deserve a Lamp

Posted in Blarticleson Nov 02, 2021

Once upon a time a fool was wandering around in the dark. There are great treasures to be found as well as stubbed toes and noses. "If only I had a lamp!" shouts the fool. By chance someone who does have a lamp is within earshot and steps over. "Here take this." says the kind stranger. The fool feels out the object in it's hands. There is a lens and a handcrank. Turning the crank makes a tiny amount of light, and turning it vigorously makes a small amount. "I don't want this!" says the fool. "I want a lamp not an exercise machine!"