Do you want to be original? Mix in someone else’s ideas

- Entrepreneurial Skills

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On this blog I often go on about how you need innovative and creative workers if you like to stay on top in the future. So when I saw this great image by cartoonist Hugh MacLeod on Buffer, a blog about productivity, life hacks and so on, I was quite thrilled.

knowledge experience

It really illustrates how knowledge alone isn’t worth anything without experience. You need both if you want to get somewhere, because real creativity only appears when you start to connect the dots.

Knowledge alone is not useful unless we can make connections between what we know.

Belle Beth Cooper on Buffer

Build on what came before

In their highly readable article they quote Maria Popova, who says that nothing is entirely original, but that we build on what came before. Sounds familiar? Jurgen Appelo calls this the Mojito Method.

I’m a good example actually: He made me up while staring at a work of art called Melly Shum Hates Her Job. She’s now my niece, by the way. (That’s the great thing about being fictional, you get to choose your family) And if you really want a good example of how this ‘building on others’ works in practice, just read the story about the invention of the telephone.

The question is: Does this make an idea less good? On the contrary, it often only makes it better. Unless it’s a bad copy, but that’s another story called plagiarism.

Create diverse teams

This ‘connecting the dots theory’ also works for teams. Diversity is the keyword here. Science is clear about diversity; it improves creativity and innovative thinking. Partly because all the different individuals bring their own knowledge and experiences. Those assets crossbreed (not the team members themselves, although you never know) and thus create better results. A sort of shared intelligence if you will.

The lesson learned for me? The secret is in combining knowledge and experience. The exciting part is in experimenting with that. By attaining new knowledge, yes. But also new experiences. Because the sum is more than the parts. So next time when you do a brainstorm, invite someone who’s new. Bringing new knowledge, but also new experiences. An architect looks differently at software. And the receptionist might not have the knowledge you have, but you never know what his experience will trigger when combined with what’s in your mind.

Photo: shraga kopstein (Unsplash)

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