Creativity comes from making connections between diverse thoughts
Happy New Year!
Recently I read an article in the Working Knowledge newsletter published by Harvard Business School. It suggested that contrary to conventional belief, older workers are more creative than younger workers.
The article focused on a trend in the US National Football League (NFL) to hire younger coaches for innovation, which may not be achieving this goal.
My favorite paragraph said:
Another common misconception is that older workers are less creative than their younger peers. Again, this turns out not to be the case: “While it’s true that young minds may produce a higher volume of ideas, business guru Frans Johansson argues in his book The Medici Effect that creativity comes more from making connections among diverse thoughts: “The more knowledge you have, the more connections you can make.”
What a refreshing proposition!
Network science supports this line of reasoning. Innovation relates to having diverse types of people in your network. More experienced people, especially those who have moved in some way (jobs, locations, universities) or who participate in a range of activities (volunteer activities or boards) are likely to know a greater range of people. These diverse networks help to access information and ideas that can be combined for innovation.
“Forced connections” is a brainstorming technique to create new ideas by mixing seemingly unrelated topics. As you start the new year, think about how you can leverage the diverse contacts in your network to create some “forced connections” and generate innovative ideas.
You can find more insights on how diverse networks relate to creativity and innovation in my book, Networking: Coffee not Cocktails.
Best wishes to build creative connections and innovative ideas in 2020!
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