The conventional wisdom that innovation can be institutionalized or done in a formal group is simply wrong. – Debra Kaye, Red Thread Thinking
According to author Debra Kaye in Red Thread Thinking, recent studies of the brain make it clear why the best new ideas don’t emerge from formal brainstorming.
The brain doesn’t make connections in a rigid atmosphere – there’s too much pressure and too much influence from others in the group. The “free association” most often given as a benefit of brainstorming is often shackled by peer pressure, delivering obvious, predictable responses.
What’s the answer? Try getting away from it all.
Fresh ideas come when your brain is relaxed and engaged in something other than the particular problem you are embroiled in. To harness strategic intuition, you have to leave the subject and the facts and stop thinking so hard about them.
Maybe you should waste a little time…
Here are 7 ways to use the power of wasting time to jump-start your thinking:
- Meditation – meditation increases your power of concentration and allows your mind to become free enough to let ideas flow
- Sleep on it – sometimes, you just need to put your project aside overnight. When the pressure is off, it’s amazing what possibilities develop
- Sleep tight – research has shown that when you learn something and then sleep on it, your knowledge of what you’ve learned becomes deeper
- Exercise – getting on a bike, taking a walk, lifting weights – some form of exercise – is good not only for your gut, but for your gut instinct, too
- Act metaphorically – researchers wondered if acting out the ideas in common metaphors like “thinking outside the box” and “putting two and two together” would make people more creative. They were right – so consider getting out of your box (office) to free up your mind?
- Read about how smart you are – nerve cells in our brains make stronger connections after we learn something new. Think and learn about your capacity to be smarter – and you just may be
- “Me” time – spending time engaged in activities you really like enhances innovative thinking
The literal presence of mind that comes when you clear your brain of all expectations is what usually precedes a flash of insight. That flash gives you the power to come up with and act on an idea.
Go ahead – take a walk…
…your boss can thank you later!
inspired by Red Thread Thinking, by Debra Kaye