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How can I improve my innovation skills?


By Dylan M ParkinPublished 2 years ago 6 min read

The ability to innovate does not rely on pie-in-the-sky "brainstorming", but on three specific methods: "reinventing premises", "interpreting across borders", and "changing perspectives".

Do you struggle: "Where do good ideas come from?

If you have ever watched a debate, then you will certainly acknowledge the fact that

A new point of view with sharp insights on the same position is always more provocative and compelling than the same old tired old argument.

Often, the ultimate answer to a problem is hidden in new ideas that we have never seen before.

In fact, usually in social situations, the most popular, but also those who can talk about the ordinary topics of life out of the new ideas. As the famous saying goes, "Smart is the new sexy".

We're all tired of clichés, but it's so hard to make an interesting soul. For most people, the so-called creativity, more often than not, can only be achieved by bumping into each other.

"Is it true that new ideas, or creativity, can only be achieved by chance?

The famous scientists Morton Reznikov and Morton Hahnemann studied the creative abilities of 117 pairs of identical and heterozygous twins between the ages of 15 and 22, and after as many as 10 creativity tests, the researchers found that only 30% of their performance was determined by genetic factors. This means that most of a person's creative behaviors and innovative skills are learnable - new ideas that can be acquired through deliberate practice.

So, many people who struggle to come up with interesting ideas are not unlucky or untalented, they just don't understand the underlying logic of developing new ideas and lack practice.

"There are three gates in everyone's head that block creativity".

So, what is the underlying logic of coming up with new ideas, or finding ideas? Many people, in their quest for innovation, always let themselves run wild with their ideas and end up with ideas that are either scattered or impractical. This is a common misconception, and the real situation is: "The focus of any valuable new idea is not on absolute peculiarity, but on relative difference.

So, what is it to be different from? That's what we've learned through thousands of debate competitions, studying the debate discussion and thought process, and comparing the final persuasive effect, to summarize the three underlying logics that help you gain the innovative power of ideas: reinventing the premise, interpreting across borders, and changing perspectives.

The premises, boundaries, and perspectives that we take for granted are the three gates that prevent most people from coming up with new ideas. Crossing them and exploring the differences can be the source of most new ideas.

▼ The First Gate: Reinventing the Premise

We all know that Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, was a genius with a passion for creation, and that he created the Apple phone that changed the smartphone industry, and arguably the entire world's way of life.

And how did Jobs get these brilliant ideas? Where did his constant creativity come from? Perhaps, we can get a glimpse of one example.

In his early years, Steve Jobs, who practiced Zen Buddhism, hated noise because it disturbed his meditation. So in the design of Apple's second generation of laptops, in order to make the computer completely noiseless, he made a very subversive decision - not for Apple's second generation of computers with built-in fans.

This idea, even to today, is also very radical. We all know that all computers must be equipped with built-in fans to prevent overheating. However, Steve Jobs found in his deeper thinking that the solution to heat, in addition to "dissipating heat", was to "avoid heat" in the first place. So he found Rod Holt, an admired circuit designer at the time, and together they developed a new switching power supply system that did not generate a lot of heat. From then on, the Apple II, which no longer needed a fan, became the noisiest laptop at the time, and naturally, it sold well.

With his action, Steve Jobs proved that "all computers need built-in fans to dissipate heat" is just our narrow-minded prejudice and default premise without reflection. And if you think about it, you will find that all the unexamined ideas in our heads actually have such a premise.

For example, have you ever noticed that all computer screens are made square, and why can't it be round? The shoes that people wear on their feet always pursue light weight with the same performance, so if the shoes are deliberately made heavy, will they be of other use?

Of course, some hidden premises exist for their own reasons. But when we need to wake up the inspiration in our brain and break down the walls in our cognition, the first step should be to re-examine these premises, reflect on them and reconstruct them, look for opportunities to change and create, and finally let fresh views, ideas and creativity come out.

Steve Jobs' innovation of the second generation of Apple computers embodies the power of reinventing premises.

Examples of such reshaping and subversion of premises abound in the history of science.

Galileo, the famous pioneer of the scientific revolution, made a presuppositional reset of pre-scientific sources of knowledge. Before the advent of science, the sources of people's knowledge often stemmed from generations of traditional experience and from God's revelation as recorded in the Bible. None is more famous or familiar than Aristotle's view of falling motion - the heavier the object, the faster it falls - which was superstitiously believed at the time.

Galileo, on the other hand, questioned such a source of knowledge, convinced that the authenticity of knowledge is not determined by the experience of ancient sages, but should be derived from empirical evidence and observations. So there was the amazing scene of two iron balls falling to the ground at the same time under the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which is very familiar to everyone.

This scene not only meant that Aristotle's view was broken, but also meant that there was a revolutionary breakthrough in the source of knowledge - besides the traditional experience and the oracle from heaven, people could also obtain knowledge by empirical evidence and observation.

This was a thrilling leap in the history of science, a leap that set the precedent for positivism.

Of course, ideas such as "one point of evidence speaks for itself" and "truth by practice" have become commonplace in our eyes, but for people at that time, relying on empirical evidence was an overturning concept for them, and from then on, the default assumptions of knowledge such as oracles and experience were greatly impacted.

In fact, just like people in pre-scientific times, we too have default and hidden premises when we look at issues and things. These hidden premises are often the accumulation and accumulation of our past common knowledge and experience. Because thinking directly from these hidden premises is incredibly energy-efficient for the brain and more efficient for expression and judgment, we tend to instinctively embrace these default premises without reflecting on them.

In the 1980s, behavioral scientists conducted experiments in which students were given random cups and candy and then told they could switch to whatever they wanted without any cost or cost of replacement. As a result, 90% of the students chose not to switch. Since the candy and cups were randomly assigned, it's impossible to say that every student was assigned something they loved, but the fact that most people gave up swapping and stuck with what they have now can only mean that everyone has a preference and obsession with the status quo and doesn't want to change it.

This is the cognitive trap that most people fall into - Status Quo Bias.

The first door to a new perspective is to break this bias by reframing the premise.

The easiest way to acquire the ability to "reframe premises" is to identify the hidden premises of the ideas and opinions we take for granted, and to think about whether there are other possibilities for those premises.

Without further delay, let's practice the hidden premises of the following ideas, and think about how to reset them.

1. Marriage must be in the right family.

Hidden premises.

Reset the premises.

2. there are so many good people in the world, so it is impossible for human nature to be evil.

Hidden Premise.

Reset the premise.

3. children must fit in and not be too introverted.

Hidden Premise

Reset premise.

▼ The Second Door: Cross-Border Interpretation

In 1992, South African native architect Mike Pierce was asked to design a large shopping center in Zimbabwe, a landlocked country in southeastern Africa.

The African country where this shopping center is located is not only unbearably hot, but also has a huge temperature difference, and one of the major problems before this designer was that the developer actually decided not to install air conditioning in order to save the cost of transportation.


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