In the world of breakthroughs, associative thinking takes the cake. Creativity is all about connecting things & that is the reason why most creative guys will tell you that they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. This uncanny mental view is at the core of breakthrough thinking, which leads to breakthroughs. Associative thinking propels breakthroughs. It put our earlier logic on it’s head that breakthroughs are standalone. Breakthroughs are not free standing ideas & that no one had the capability to think on those lines in any context is not true.
The reality is that nearly all breakthroughs are a combination of ideas that had already existed. The iconic assembly line is thought to be a sudden invention so to say, facilitating Henry Ford to roll out his automobiles & roll the world. The creation of assembly line is the magical association between the Chicago meatpacking industry’s use of mechanized hooks & the bakeries use of industrial conveyor belts. The breakthroughs guys are able to connect the experiences they have gone through, known & seen and stitch new things out of it. It’s both a synthesis and an immense value add, creating something which is totally different from the backend connects. Nonetheless, the connects are there & very distinct too.
Accuracy for guns is critical. The accuracy issue was sorted out when gunmakers looked to the bow & the arrow. “The feathers on the back of the arrows cause the arrow to spin, and the spin makes the arrow fly straight.” This lead to the spirals inside gun barrels. The accuracy increased five hold. The process of putting feathers on the arrows was called rifling. This was the genesis of the technology & of the guns. It came to be known as rifles. Stethoscope was also invented in a similar manner basing on the concept of wood amplifying the sound.
Newness, radically different usage or a totally new combination is at the core of it all. This thinking has to be applied to what we “SEE” through the prism of Look, Use, Move, Interconnect, Alter, Make and Imagine. Seven questions, seven angles, all you need is one to work for a breakthrough to happen. Innovation strategist Bill O’Connor says “this is brainstreaming,” emphasizing “this isn’t brainstorming.”
ALL BREAKTHROUGHS HAVE AN EXISTING CONTEXT.