Five techniques to help you solve problems that could use some creativity

Steven Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From – The Natural History of Innovation (Riverhead 2010) at 110 to 123, discusses five ways to make more fertile your intuitive, serendipitous inventiveness. Go for a walk, he suggests, or more generally relax and direct your mind to something in the foreground you enjoy while your brain crunches away in the background. Read widely, so that you stock of images and concepts remains full, ready to weave together ideas from different genre.

He urges people to keep track of ideas: write them down (See my post of Dec. 14, 2010: commonplace books for in-house lawyers.). Johnson goes beyond – curate your accumulated ideas, by which he means reread them, annotate them, connect them, and keep them as Aces up your mental sleeve.

Fourth, Johnson recommends that you look up what interests you. Lawyers can find out about anything on the Web, which fertilizes their innovation thinking. Finally, I will add one technique: explain your quandary, your efforts, your thoughts to date to someone who listens well and asks good questions. The very effort to pull together your thoughts helps and the objective feedback will spur more creativity.

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