Sim D’Hertefelt ask us on Linked in : “How often do you switch off your mail and phone to think or create?”. His thesis is that “For innovating ideas to emerge -in design, business, management, technology development…- you have to switch off your mail and phone for at least a day.”
He also ask “Do you agree? What helps you to create and innovate in your job?”.
My answer :
Innovative ideas rarely appear ex nihilo, unless you’re a real genius. They are often the result of the combination of several items. This is why at Emakina we enjoy brainstorming in a groups made of people from very different background. This is why I actually enjoy the flow of interruptions that provide me alien items that collide with my current flow of thinking. Like a lot of scientific discoveries, many of my ideas results from accidents, completely independent of my will. But don’t tell my customers 😉
My only talent is being able to notice interesting collisions and having the instinct to feel the value or novelty of a new combination in a fraction of second, before the thought is lost. I take notes in my bed, record ideas on my iPhone, write email to myself a lot, just to avoid forgetting valuable ideas.
What help me to create in my job is people very different from me, the flow of random items that populate my mails, rss feeds, tweets, and conversations on all media. Also I read a lot of magazines specialized in many different subjects (from Monocle to Wired, from CanardPC to Stuff, from Keyboards to Psychologies, …)
In summary I think that the great creative genius thinking in the silence of his Ivory tower is a cliche that only non creative people believe in.
All creatives knows that creativity is a talent “innÃ©” that you cannot learn, but you can force yourself being open to the flow of items (subscribe to as many flows as you can), train yourself to observe new combinations, practice systematic checking of novelty and value. In the end only the good ideas counts.