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Generating Big Ideas

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“There are the cognitive, psychological processes that lead to breakthrough ideas.”–Paul Ebeling

Creativity is often treated as unpredictable. However, science has been researching the processes leading to creativity, and offered neuroscientific explanation to one of them.

In fact, there are 3, distinguished by the sorts of psychological, cognitive processes involved in idea generation for each of them. They are: combinational, exploratory, and transformational creativity. At the end of this article I added a fourth one: team-based combinational creativity.

Combinational Creativity

This 1 is the most researched type by neuroscience. There are several explanations to the cognitive and brain functions that take place to generate combinational ideas. It is defined as the generation of new ideas through the combination of old ideas. There are four generally accepted steps to generate combinational ideas: collect as many old ideas as possible, let them incubate in your brain, force a trigger event, and finally engage in a relaxing activity that will allow combinations to occur and generate new ideas. The premise for this type of creativity process is that the old ideas are already in your brain, and the focus of neuroscientific research is on the brain activity that leads to making those connections.

Exploratory Creativity

While still guided by old ideas in your brain, this method suggest exploring beyond what you know. Experimentation without knowing what the outcome will be, and curiosity for the unexpected will lead to ideas that could not have been generated through simple combinations of old ideas already in your brain. Unlike combinational creativity, the area of exploratory creativity was not as much researched by neuroscience. The premise of exploratory creativity is that the new idea is not in your head yet, but that ideas already in your head would only lead you to explore beyond them.

Transformational Creativity

Boden defined transformational creativity ideas as impossibilist surprise. It begins by changing “the rules of the game.” You have to take 1 or more of the rules that prevent you from generating new ideas and ask yourself what would happen, or what would be possible if that rule did not exist. One example would be the 1985 hypothesis that some carbon molecules are hollow spheres, opposite to common knowledge. Pursuing that theory led to the development of carbon nano-tubes and nanotechnology, and to a Nobel prize in Y 1996. Boden believes that transformational creativity generates the most radical ideas, the ones that have the likelihood of winning a Nobel prize, but also that those are very rare. Like exploratory creativity, neuroscience is in its very early days of understanding and explaining transformational creativity. The premise of transformational creativity is assuming that an idea in your head are actually wrong, and exploring the possibilities that result from accepting it.

A 4th method is team-based combinational creativity. The 3 processes described above rely on creative ideas generated in one brain of 1 person. However, ideas can also be generated by a team of creative people and the right dynamics, by which the old ideas, pieces of the new idea, actually reside with multiple people, and the team dynamics, through debate and communications will generate the combination. This method of idea generation is not the focus of neuroscience, as it occurs in multiple brains at the same time, and is more the focus of communications and social studies.

To maximize your creativity, you should pursue all 4 methods in the new world of digital assets!

 Start paying attention to your intuition and see what it has to say. Never be in a hurry.

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Have a prosperous week, Keep the Faith!

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Paul A. Ebeling, a polymath, excels, in diverse fields of knowledge Including Pattern Recognition Analysis in Equities, Commodities and Foreign Exchange, and he is the author of "The Red Roadmaster's Technical Report on the US Major Market Indices, a highly regarded, weekly financial market commentary. He is a philosopher, issuing insights on a wide range of subjects to over a million cohorts. An international audience of opinion makers, business leaders, and global organizations recognize Ebeling as an expert.