The Magic Bike Company

Where do good ideas come from?

Oliver Sacks, a scientist and a storyteller quoted in Brainpickings “Why is it that of every hundred gifted young musicians who study at Juilliard or every hundred brilliant young scientists who go to work in major labs under illustrious mentors, only a handful will write memorable musical compositions or make scientific discoveries of major importance? Are the majority, despite their gifts, lacking in some further creative spark? Are they missing characteristics other than creativity that may be essential for creative achievements — such as boldness, confidence, independence of mind? It takes special energy, over and above one’s creative potential, a special audacity or subversiveness, to strike out in a new direction once one is settled. It is a gamble as all creative projects must be, for the new direction may not turn out to be productive at all.”
“Creativity involves not only years of conscious preparation and training but unconscious preparation as well. This incubation period is essential to allow the subconscious assimilation and incorporation of one’s influences and sources, to reorganize and synthesize them into something of one’s own. The essential element in these realms of retaining and appropriating versus assimilating and incorporating is one of depth, of meaning, of active and personal involvement.”
Creative thinking means looking at something in a new way. It is the very definition of “thinking outside the box.” Often, creativity in this sense involves what is called lateral thinking, or the ability to perceive patterns that are not obvious. The fictional detective Sherlock Holmes uses lateral thinking in one famous story when he realizes that a dog not barking is an important clue in a murder case. Creative people have the ability to devise new ways to carry out tasks, solve problems, and meet challenges. They bring a fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, perspective to their work. This way of thinking can help departments and organizations move in more productive directions. For these reasons, they are extremely valuable to a company.
Creativity involves thinking of things in a novel way within the context in question. You have to set aside any assumptions or biases you may have, and look at things in a completely new way. By coming to a problem with an open mind, you allow yourself the chance to think creatively. Parts of this discussion were discovered at The Balance

Environments that breed Creativity

In considering definitions of creativity, Gordon MacKenzie, longtime director of creative development for Hallmark Cards notes, “What is the biggest obstacle to creativity? Attachment to an outcome. As soon as you become attached to a specific outcome, you feel compelled to control and manipulate what you’re doing, and in the process, you shut yourself off to other possibilities. Creativity is not just about succeeding. It’s about experimenting and discovering.”
Creative work needs solitude. It needs concentration without interruptions. It needs the whole sky to fly in, and no eye watching until it comes to that certainty which it aspires to, but does not necessarily have at once. Privacy, then. A place apart — to pace, to chew pencils, to scribble and erase and scribble again.

The IDEO creative difference

“The best way to encourage (or to have) new ideas isn't to fetishize the spark of genius, to retreat to a mountain cabin in order to be creative or to blabber interminably about blue-sky, out-of-the-box thinking. Rather, it's to expand the range of your possible next moves – the perimeter of your potential – by exposing yourself to as much serendipity, as much argument and conversation, as many rivals and related ideas as possible; to borrow, to repurpose, to recombine. This is one way of explaining the creativity generated by cities, by Europe's 17th-century coffee-houses, and by the internet. Good ideas happen in networks; in one rather brain-bending sense, you could even say that good ideas are networks. Or as Johnson also puts it: “Chance favors the connected mind and that collaboration is key.” From Steven Johnson: 'Eureka moments are very, very rare' retrieved from theguardian
How does one improve their chances to connect? Meditate. Go for walks. Ride your bike going nowhere in particular. There is a creative purpose to daydreaming, even to boredom. The best ideas come to us when we stop actively trying to coax the muse into manifesting and let the fragments of experience float around our unconscious mind in order to click into new combinations. Without this essential stage of unconscious processing, the entire flow of the creative process is broken.
How does one get good at idea generation? Sam Altman on his blog offers, “it’s important to be in the right kind of environment, and around the right kind of people. You want to be around people who have a good feel for the future, will entertain improbable plans, are optimistic, are smart in a creative way, and have a very high idea flux. These sorts of people tend to think without the constraints most people have, not have a lot of filters, and not care too much what other people think.”
Life has been performing design experiments on Earth’s R&D lab for 3.8 billion years. What’s flourishing on the planet today are the best ideas---those that perform well in context, while economizing on energy and materials. Whatever your company’s design challenge, the odds are high that one or more of the world’s 30 million creatures has not only faced the same challenge but has evolved effective strategies to solve it.” (Biomimicry Guild Web Page, 2008)
Biomimicry is also known as biomimetics, bionics, bio-inspiration, and biognosis. Roughly translated from the Greek; bios = life and mimesis = imitate, it is the practice of applying the laws of nature to develop new products and processes (Benyus, 1997). It requires the study of biological phenomenon to extract bio-principles, which can be applied to the design of an engineered product or process.
The underlying theory is that natural, biological designs have withstood eons of time, fighting and surviving the most rigorous forces of nature. The result is that biology offers a plethora of elegant, time-tested solutions to fundamental problems. Engineers can incorporate these solutions into engineered products and processes that also offer time-tested solutions to modern design problems. For a great introduction to the use of Biomimicry visit this Pinterest board: Biomimicry Examples
Innovation is the process of taking a new idea, building and testing it, and then implementing it. It is distinct from creativity, which focuses on the generation of new ideas. Creativity is an essential part of innovation, but it's only one step in the process. In the chapters that follow, we explore the process of innovation.