Most people for sure heard and read Isaac Asimov works. A prolific science fiction author, he was also a professor of biochemistry, often consulted on subjects of national importance that required ‘out of the box’ thinking.
His 1959 essay on creativity was written but never published after working on one of those sensitive government projects. Now that it came to public view, it is an enlightening read and relevant to many things we do now.
Here are just some nuggets
“How do people get new ideas?” Asimov muses. Asimov himself wrote and edited more than 500 works and was famed for his science fiction novels. One can surmise that he was not short on ideas — or a method of cultivating creativity.
Asimov instead looks at how Darwin and Alfred Wallace came up with the theory of evolution via natural selection, and breaks down the essentials of creativity. Just as important as Darwin and Wallace’s background and travels was their ability to make connections between granules otherwise detached:
“Obviously, then, what is needed is not only people with a good background in a particular field, but also people capable of making a connection between item 1 and item 2 which might not ordinarily seem connected.”
The “cross-connection” Asimov explains is specially cultivated from certain personality and societal factors.
“Making the cross-connection requires a certain daring. It must, for any cross-connection that does not require daring is performed at once by many and develops not as a ‘new idea,’ but as a mere ‘corollary of an old idea.’”
“It is only afterward that a new idea seems reasonable. To begin with, it usually seems unreasonable. It seems the height of unreason to suppose the earth was round instead of flat, or that it moved instead of the sun, or that objects required a force to stop them when in motion, instead of a force to keep them moving, and so on.”
Asimov also touches on how creative work should be done (mostly in isolation).If coming of several people is desirable it shouldn’t be a group of more than 5 and the work environment should be characterized as informal and jovial. He says that probably more inhibiting than anything else is a feeling of responsibility. Creativity is not rushed.
To read a little more: http://www.technologyreview.com/view/531911/isaac-asimov-asks-how-do-people-get-new-ideas/