So to force creative thinking onto someone with limited observational past is an effort in futility. Steve Jobs, famous for his insanely great creativity, claimed that the best inventors sought out diverse experiences, which years later became the raw material for their creativity. Jobs didn't seek experience solely in computing; in fact, he never coded a single programming line. But he had diverse experiences: dabbling in Hinduism and Buddhism, hanging out with friends in different fields, experimenting with psychedelic drug, to name a few. Recognising the value of diversity, he designed Pixar's headquarters such that all the bathrooms were placed in an atrium, increasing the likelihood of writers and programmers bouncing into one another to facilitate the sharing and cross-fertilising of ideas. If all lifelong, one has been specialising in only one field, there's very little chance of he/she having great creativity.
The essential elements necessary for creativity are thus:
The beauty about storing patterns is that you can easily recall them. Here we can bring up Edward de Bono's insight. He wrote: "Once a pattern has been formed then the mind no longer has to analyse or sort information. All that is required is enough information to trigger the pattern. The mind then follows along the pattern automatically in the same way as a driver follows a familiar road." Certainly, we can be misled by the wrong pattern. But we can always empirically test its suitability by going back to the past, not just a few years but thousands of years. If reality unfolded according to the selected pattern, then our pattern is the right one. We can also go forward by checking the predictive power of the pattern.
To illustrate a simple use of cross-applying a familiar pattern to a supposedly complex issue, I'll demonstrate in the next post, how using a pattern from the accounting profession, we can size up the economy much better than the economist with their econometric tools. We only need the Income Statement, the Balance Sheet and the Cash Flow. The next time an economist bores you about how great China's GDP is, you can enlighten him/her on why that country is going the opposite way.