Re:Thinking Innovation

Re:Think Innovation 2015 in Chicago is coming up quickly and I'm super excited. Last year's workshop was a hit.

You can learn all about it right here. (There are 9 spots left.)

What I want to talk about today is something we're going to discuss at the workshop: Developing your knowledge library or why it's potentially great to have ADHD.

One ingredient to being more creative is developing an understanding of how you learn and using that to increase the chunks you store in your head.

Chunks represent a knowledge element if you will. Think of them as a mental model, an idea, or even an abstract concept. Chunks can form with or without a complete understanding of the idea.

For instance, you can learn what a word means in a language without knowing how to conjugate it or use it to communicate. But, all things considered, it's better to have a complete understanding because that allows you to interconnect chunks more easily and retain them more strongly.

Why is this important?

Interconnecting chunks is where creativity comes from. In fact, this is largely what science tells us about how we develop ideas. We make connections between chunks – or ideas – in our working memory.

Einstein called this combinatory play. This is how we internally brainstorm. Often these ideas suck but sometimes they change the world. We still need to filter.

Research has shown that you can hold four to five ideas in your head (in working memory) at a time to make connections with.

If you have ADHD, these ideas turn over much faster, increasing the velocity of creative combinations. That's why, for all of its downsides, there are potential upsides to ADHD. It also explains why we tend to see people with ADHD as more creative.

For those of us without ADHD, we need to add more ideas to our mental library.

It's hard to see ideas or solutions without the right chunks. Not only will these ideas help us make better decisions, but they help us “see” things that other people don't.

You can think of these ideas as LEGO bricks, each one a different shape and color.

The more of these bricks you have, the more things you can build. The bigger the base of knowledge you bring to the table (ideally from a wide range of disciplines), the higher you can go.

And that, my friends, is one of the keys to Re:Thinking Innovation.

Come for the experience, soak up some wisdom, and walk away with what has been called “the best two days I've ever spent at an event.”

Sign up for Re:Think Innovation today.