Re: Epiphany and Morphism #discussion-starter


I'm fascinated by the topic of where insights come from, particularly when their source is "connecting the dots" as it were between two seemingly unrelated ideas, concepts or phenomena. So two thoughts about terminology:
1. Biomimicry - throughout history biomimicry is the source for much innovation as well as a few failed attempts at innovating. Take for instance early attempts at human flight. Flapping wings seemed like a good approach, but led to lots of failure and perhaps a few deaths (Icarus?). So this turns out to be a pretty linear approach to innovation - sometimes it works out well, sometimes not so much. Some fun examples here:

2. Metaphors - in the abstract, I find that metaphors can be a powerful source for "thinking differently", which can lead to innovation or insight. In my own experience I first tapped into it deliberately in an improvisational drama course, which provided lots of different exercises that all relied on building one's metaphor muscle. One involved using only body movements to depict what you might get if you combined an emotion and a power tool. I chose jealousy and a belt sander. Picture that if you will. Another assignment was a group exercise to create a submarine, using only our bodies, and no talking or coordinating. So five people had to figure out what for them constituted "submarine-ness" and then figure out how to incorporate that into what others were doing. 

While these exercises sound quite silly, they're actually very powerful because they teach you where in your mind you can go to find metaphors - representations of things that you're quite familiar with, but that need to be reduced down to only their essential, most recognizable elements in a way that can be easily communicated. Being able to do this helps one to "see" things differently by being able to consider what are the elements of any given thing that best represent its essence qualities, that give it its "thing-ness." With that understanding, it opens the door to experimenting and solutioning by overlaying things that are known to have worked in one application to see if they might support an entirely different solution.  Here's a fun read related to this notion:

Lastly, maybe the word is simply "eureka".! :-) That's allegedly what Archimedes cried out when his bathtub overflowed as he lowered himself into it, discovering the properties of buoyancy and displacement. 


Tom Short Consulting
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