The great article from Strategy & Business linked above is talking about creativity within business environments and really speaks well to obliterate the long held generalizations about "right brain vs. left brain" thinking.
I'm a left-brain kind of guy...analytical, logical and rational. But, I'm also intuitive and like to consider myself creative. In the realm of traditional thought, I'm left brain with some right brain. But the classifications don't work. And this article and the corresponding studies around "Intelligent Memory" are, in my opinion, a much better way to create a creative, idea-seeking environment.
There are many business books talking about "strategy." Most, if not all, fail to explain to someone how to come up with the ideas to solve problems. Most explain how to define the problem, determine the criteria, gather data, list alternatives, and implement. But, how do you create an environment to determine the list of "alternatives"?
I've seen many companies go down the "brainstorming" path which, in the end, becomes a regurgitation of the ideas of the strongest voices in the room. Not that I mind because many times I'm one of those strong voices BUT this process fails to capture the essence of curiosity and of truly creative ideas!
So enters Intelligent Memory. As the article points out, this premise started its roots in 1998 with an article in the journal "Neuron". The article, "Cognitive Neuroscience and the Study of Memory" essentially stated the premise that "intelligent memory" is the idea of analysis (LEFT BRAIN) and intuition (RIGHT BRAIN) working together in all modes of thought.
THIS, I can see and believe in because, even though I really like my left-brain process and analysis capabilities, I'm a creative guy. Just ask me!
So - no left brain, no right brain. Just learning and recall. That, I believe, applies much better to how people really learn, innovate, create, design, etc.
Some other thoughts from the article:
- Your brain takes things in, breaks them down, and puts them on shelves.
- As new information comes in, your brain does a massive Google search to see how this information might fit in with other, previously stored information.
- When you find a match, old memories combine with new to create a thought.
- That process, one of breaking down and storing - is analysis.
- Searching and combining - is intuition.
- As familiar patterns emerge, you don't really "think about it."
- However, as new pieces of data create new patterns you arrive at "AHA!"
So, how do companies create environments for innovation?
Google has tried to do it by tickling the right brain with lounges, bean bag chairs, dogs in the office, ping pong, etc. But, while that creates a really fun work environment, does it foster creativity??
Personally, I've brought Playdoh to meetings when I want to foster a creative environment. Is there anything better than a bunch of adults creating "stuff" from Playdoh?
So, what are the shelves of your brain stocked with? Are your shelves full or do you have unlimited storage space? How quick is your recall? How strong is your "inner-Google"?
Curious minds want to know! When is the last time you had an "Aha!" moment?