Friday, December 14, 2012

Associational Thinking & Creativity

Entreprenuer Kevon Saber has written a good column on creativity for Fast Company.  He focuses on the notion that we should expose our people to ideas from different industries and disciplines to help stimulate creativity.   Saber points that many new ideas come from "associational thinking" - the ability to draw unique connections among seemingly unrelated concepts from different fields.  His column offers some ideas for stimulating associational thinking, drawing on the practices of various innovative companies.   I liked this particular technique quite a bit:

The event website Eventbrite hosts “Brite Camps,” internal training events led by different team members. Held during company hours, team members lead how-to sessions on varied topics from photo editing to options trading to poker. These interactive sessions not only strengthen company culture, they also build dexterity in team members to better conceptualize new ideas. It’s another case of diverse stimuli boosting the creative potential of a team.

While I do love these types of activities, I think that they cannot replace the most important method for stimulating associational thinking - READING.  Individuals can derive tremendous value from making a habit of reading voraciously about what is going on in other industries and disciplines.  We should not trap ourselves by only reading in our own specialized domain. 

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