We all know two thinking styles are better than one. The engineer and the designer combine well because each provides what the other lacks. Less well understood is the value of one person developing both their rational and their imaginative sides and alternating between the two. Cross-brain-thinking can be learned and permits a fresh ‘mental look’ at the same problem. Better still, the different perspectives occur at the speed of thought, far quicker than the verbal communication linking the designer to the engineer.
Combine the un-combinable
Inventions are combinations of existing realities bolted together in new ways. But if the idea is genuinely original and useful, they merge into a new whole. We don’t separate Post-It Notes into yellow paper and temporary adhesive, or Teabags into paper and finely chopped tealeaves. Try breaking the elements of your project or challenge into as many parts as possible, then combing them in different ways. Most new combinations will be ridiculous, but not all. I mean, what can you do with an adhesive that doesn’t stick and a square of yellow paper?
Think causes, not results
Gain the habit of asking why things are or how they happened. The question links you to the cause, not just the event or outcome. Causes are fertile fields for creative ideas, because once you discover them it’s easy to imagine what else might have happened from the same cause. Asking ‘why not’ after first asking ‘why’ will give you more ideas, because you are working with the tools of creation, not just the finished creations themselves.
Hear Bruce Alexander "Being Original" Audio (mp3 3 mins/900KB )
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