Thursday, October 6, 2016

Dot Collecting - The Habit of Great Creative People

FEI Europe 2016 keynote presentation by Dave Birss, Author, A User Guide to the Creative Mind @davebirss

With a lively, Scottish history to start his presentation, Dave had the room's attention. He quickly lead us into the reasoning behind the title for his presentation. Dots are pieces of information - inputs - and your brain can only work with what you put in, so he recommends to get in the habit of putting good input (dots) in your head. Also, most people collect the same type of dots, so therefore tend to think the same. If you want to think differently, Dave recommends you consciously work on feeding your mind with good dots from a variety of sources to build a broad level of knowledge.

"If you want to be valuable, put other things in your head, then the ideas you generate will naturally be different from other people"

Specialists, those who collect many many dots in a specific area, with their narrow but deep knowledge of a subject area, are mentioned as useful in a couple of ways: (1) information gathering on that specialist area, and (2) executing specifically in that specialist area.

Dave suggests for those interested in innovation and problem solving seek to become curious creative generalists, with a broad knowledge base of good dots across a range of areas. Creativity he then sees is taking one existing element and another unrelated element and bringing them together to create something new.

Some other key points stressed in the talk included:
  • innovation is more about iteration of from one idea to a new one. If we are wanting the new idea to be taken up by the masses, we need to make sure it has some overlap with the previous version of the idea and more familiarity than novelty.
  • Good ideas come best to you when you're in a relaxed (alpha) state so find ways to create an environment at work that allows for the capture of ideas.
  • inspiration and innovation is not a passive activity. Actively collecting the principles of the good dots you come across (ask why do you like it? how is it effective?) will allow you to take the essence of the value you're seeing and then apply it in a new way, rather than just copy-pasting (plagiarising) the idea directly.
"Work on having the most valuable mind in the room"

 The presentation was then closed with the mention of openforideas.org, a new online ideas magazine coming next week, and a forum and online space for practical advice on all aspects of creativity.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr Claire McGowan is CEO for SODA Inc. (SODAinc.com), a Founder-focused incubator and Wintec company based in Hamilton, New Zealand. Claire has trained as a life scientist, worked in venture capital and investment banking, and built and sold several businesses, including IPMarket.com. @clairemcgowan @Soda_inc @IPMarket

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