New ideas don’t come out of the blue. Innovative ideas are the result of a thought process.
The human brain is exceptionally terrible at generating new ideas out of the blue. Our minds are not wired that way. They are, however, fantastic at recognizing patterns and making connections between information.
Take a look at the most creative and innovative cultures in business. Funky design, weird events, video games, ping pong tables, and open floor plans are not novelties; they are strategies to spur creativity and innovation. What is it about those cultures and physical spaces that spur innovation and creativity?
Exposing your brain to as many unrelated ideas as possible
Innovators are constantly exposing themselves to different experiences and new perspectives. When we open our minds to new types of stimuli, we’re fueling our creative fire. When we see something new, something interesting, our brains immediately start working to absorb, analyze, and contextualize this new information.
The average person stops here. Innovators are just getting started.
Challenging your mind to make connections
When presented with new information, innovators kick into their creative process. They start by consciously asking their mind to make connections between the new information and the challenges they are working to solve. They are simply asking their brain whether this new information has a connection to their work and how it is relevant to the problems they face.
Those video games and ping pong tables serve a purpose at the world’s most innovative companies. Researchers have found that once the mind has started the process of recognizing patterns, making connections, and has established a intended outcome, a period of unconscious thought (distraction) allows the brain to identify insights and connections much deeper than concentrated, conscious thought.
And as a result the mind creates connections (a.k.a. NEW IDEAS!) that it never would have been able to generate out of the blue with concentrated, conscious thought process.