The Triggering of Human Imagination

I should start by saying that I am definitely not a gamer and I cannot understand how games could trigger the human imagination! I believe that gaming connects us to a fake unrealistic world which at some point might separate us from our real life! There are so many other useful practices which could trigger imagination… Some of the ones that I personally relate to have been mentioned in a very interesting blog  by the Fast Company and they include:

  1. Thinking in metaphors
  2. Thinking in pictures
  3. Borrowing from other domains
  4. Introducing unrelated ideas
  5. Reversing polarity
  6. Finding the paradox 

As researchers I think that we have all used some of these practices for triggering our imagination and coming up with new ideas… I personally found reversing polarity and finding the paradox very interesting! By reversing polarity we can release conceptual energy and that would open our eyes to new solutions… As an example consider that the sink in your workplace is always filled with dishes… and you cannot tell whose dished they are! So trying to solve this problem you will think that it is hard to tell whose dishes are in the sink… Now what if you rephrase the problem as it’s easy to tell whose dishes are in the sink… Then this might open your eyes to an easy solution which is if it’s easy to tell whose dishes are in the sink then maybe they are personalized with the employees initials… The second interesting point for me was finding the paradox. Consider a city where people would dump motor oils into sewers and they would flow into the bay and pollute the fish habitats. Also the warnings posted near the drains are not working… instead of looking at the problem in the way that is was proposed to us we can ask can the sewer grates and signs be the same? yes! How about a grate in the shape of a fish with an unambiguous message of whatever you put down the drain goes right into the fish!

The 20th century made us believe that everything of value can be bought in a store, that the answer to the question lies at the back of the book, and that design is something only designers do. But in the 21st century, we are being nudged forward—by our customers, our employers, our economy, and by the robots nipping at our heels—to be original.