Stephen M. Shapiro

As adults, when we try to solve a problem, we often ask, “What does this mean?” We try to pull the answer from our knowledge bank, just like finding the solution in an encyclopedia. Solve the problem the way it has been solved in the past. This can be useful, but it provides a limited set of possibilities. This is about replication and regurgitation. An alternative (and more insightful) way of looking at problems is to ask, “What is this like?” Be a matchmaker. Make connections. Try and find analogies, metaphors, and associations that fit the problem you are looking to solve. Recombine ideas in new ways. …When you have many dots collected, you have limitless ways of recombining them to create something new. This is not about invention, which is pulling something out of the thin air. This is about innovation which is about reconstituting old ideas in new ways. Don’t always go for the obvious solution. Some of the best ideas come from some of the most unlikely combinations.

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