It such an overused term, we know we have to do it, but for many of us it’s a stretch.
I had the honour of presenting to a networking group this week that understand the benefits and, in fact, the need to create environments where we can have purposeful conversations that can connect us to the connections, support and knowledge.
People who are good at having creative ideas are good at seeing connections.
When we look and find connections, we recognise that creative triggers can come from anywhere. Free association, comparisons, gap finding and cross fertilisation are all forms of connection making. During idea incubation, when you’re pondering over a challenge, your mind is simply waiting to make a connection between a trigger and your challenge.
We can enhance our ability to make connections through divergent and convergent thinking – that is, deliberately undertaking activities that generate lots of idea combinations – and then, equally as important, focusing on a few of these options to ensure we narrow down the ideas, discarding the non-useful ones, to meet our objective. Networking assists to generate new ideas.
Connection is not just about connecting ideas,
but people too.
There’s value in randomness and the connection leaps the brain can make when we introduce disruptiveness to unlock creative responses. Author of Messy, Tim Harford, thinks that ‘messy disruptions’ are most powerful when combined with creative skills, putting artists, scientists and engineers in unfamiliar territory, enabling unexpected creative solutions to emerge.
Neuroscientist Dr Tara Swart goes further and says our need for social connection is primal. The quality of these connections has an influence on our mood, thinking and behaviours, and we often refer to these connections as our tribe.
“Connecting with people who share the same passions affirms you are not alone; that there are others like you.”
Psychologists and sociologists have used the term ‘contagion’ to describe the potential impact of our social connections. Seeking increased diversity in our networks, who we work with and our tribes can significantly support us to generate ideas.
So the science is clear, creating connections enhances creativity.
Author Frans Johansson in his book ‘The Medici Effect’, offers further advice. He encourages us to drive connection and increase our exposure to different cultures, including geography, ethnicity, class, profession and organisational cultures.
Studies in creativity research as early as the 1960s concluded that people who had lived in or had been exposed to two or more cultures had an advantage when it came to creative innovation. These people were not wedded to a particular point of view and promoted more open and divergent thinking. Even people who speak multiple languages tend to exhibit greater creativity because they’re able to draw on varied perspectives, generating a wider range of associations.
Taking this a step further – we should increase diversity in the workplace.
Working with diverse groups of people allows different viewpoints, approaches and frames of mind to emerge. This has proven to increase the randomness of concept combinations. The tendency for workplaces to stick to their own disciplines, domains and ethnicities is called ‘similar attraction effect’, where people show an attraction towards people with similar attitudes. The effect is so predictable that it can actually be expressed as an equation. This is particularly an issue for recruitment policies. It’s not simply a matter of bringing in different people, but more about seeking to put together an innovative and creative team.
So go on, step out there, and start by checking out Your Time Matters at www.yourtimematters.com.au