Coupled with the ability to understand what others find meaningful, knowledge mining involves building a body of knowledge to draw upon in the future. This involves six different concepts:
1. Embodiment. Each person embodies unique knowledge, life experiences, and social connections. People can be the embodiment of their generations, their communities, their cultures, or the human race. While embodiment is not essential to creating, it constitutes a pool of knowledge to draw upon.
2. Immersion. People can tap into knowledge through immersion in another culture. By assimilating into another culture, someone can learn almost everything there is to know about that culture. A shallower immersion, such as a taking a class or researching a culture, may provide enough knowledge to work with while reserving the time to learn about other cultures as well.
3. Connecting the dots. Calling upon past experiences to inform similar projects is a way of connecting the dots. This method relies on people’s ability to see similarities and links between seemingly unrelated experiences. It also depends on the insight to recognize which dots are important and which ones are not.
4. Casting for ideas. Ideas are everywhere, but not every idea is a good one. The key to catching a good idea is to remain open to unexpected inspiration. The person who can recognize and harness innovative ideas can use them to create something completely original.
5. Mining the past. The most successful creators do their homework before launching a new idea. They find out about the history of their fields, what has worked in the past, and what has not. Building a body of knowledge helps people see where they came from, where they are going, and what is missing and needs to be filled in.
6. Donut knowledge. Sometimes, the missing piece is more important than the rest of the puzzle. Cultivating the ability to see what is not there, like a donut hole, is another way to gather knowledge.
Discovering people’s dreams is a more powerful strategy than asking about their needs. It reveals what is truly meaningful in their lives. Mining for knowledge is not just a fact-finding mission; it is a quest to discover what others find meaningful, and the most successful innovators deliver the meaning that people long for. This requires compassion, connection, and engagement.
Just like many companies are not capitalizing on their employees’ vast knowledge, many individuals overlook their own skills and experience. The first step in building a foundation for creativity is becoming more familiar with them. The next is becoming receptive to creative thoughts by freeing the mind, disconnecting from the rest of the world, and thinking.
Putting a traditional idea into a new context reframes it into something new. For example, Kickstarter, an online funding site that lets people contribute to and participate in creative projects, reframed the idea that artists and their supporters are separate entities, encouraging group alliances for project funding.
Everyone holds beliefs about the world that are equivalent to different frames. Creative people redefine or discard these frames, changing the way people see the world. By practicing framing and reframing, people can learn to change their perspectives and become more innovative.
Narrative reframing changes the way people do a particular thing. For example, a medical team reframed the way the hospital routinely conducted chemotherapy sessions to make them more comfortable and convenient to patients. Reframing a narrative often depends on switching the point of view to allow someone else to tell the story.
The Internet and social networking have reframed engagement on a larger scale. Whenever interaction occurs, the potential for innovation arises. Each group has its own rituals and etiquette as well as its own protocol for entrance. For example, friend requests on Facebook are a way of “knocking at the door” of the social network.
What-if framing challenges the status quo and explores other possibilities. Strategizing about the future encourages multiple perspectives that may lead to collaboration with people outside of familiar peer groups and cultures. What-if framing helps people imagine the unimaginable.
Basic framing skills help people adjust to changes and maintain control of their destinies. The ability to reframe helps people make sense of the world and gives them direction for defining the future.
During play, people set aside the rules that govern their everyday lives. They improvise and take on new roles. Among creative entrepreneurs, playing is key to building strategy, and companies like YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, and Apple are among the results.
Serious play among players who trust each other produces the best ideas. Serious play has rules, incites competition, and produces winners as well as losers. It transforms problems into challenges that are fun and have several possible creative solutions.
Establishing a “magic circle,” or room that is separated from normal activity and governed by a separate set of rules, is essential to enhancing a work team’s creativity. The people who play there should trust each other enough to suspend judgment while experimenting.
Making a game out of a task that people typically put off encourages action. For example, the 12-week Keas program engages employees into a fitter lifestyle by using a gaming platform and competition via social networking. Such programs access the power of fun and friendly competition to drive results. The most successful programs build in an element of choice that is essential to play.
Game designers distinguish between simple and complex games. Simple games, like crossword puzzles, do not offer game-changing options. Complex ones, such as poker, feature changing dynamics that depend on players’ choices. Complex games mirror the ambiguity of the real world and provide valuable lessons in strategizing. The creative advantages of complex gaming include:
*Dynamism and adaptability.
*A dependence on possibility, not probability.
*The use of scaffolding that provides increasing complexity.
*Deceptive simplicity that requires smart choices.
*The ability to change the rules.
Although play is a complex behavior, it is something that anyone can relearn. Stepping outside a normal comfort zone to find the right team or partner is often essential to constructive play. Games help people explore and break through their boundaries.
A new maker movement has emerged since the turn of the 21st century, with people preferring to be active rather than passive. Making involves mastering the tools, such as computers, that convert creative ideas into reality. Corporations as well as communities are adopting a go-local philosophy. Even industry giants like GE are returning some of their offshore manufacturing facilities to the U.S.
The combination of a maker philosophy and low-cost, simple to use digital tools is driving the maker trend. 3-D printers facilitate turning ideas into prototypes. Being funded, such as by an online community like Kickstarter, results in going into production sooner. Online publicity and social network sharing sells the product.
The first step in becoming a maker is visualizing a satisfactory result. The next is realizing that it is easier to make something than most people think. Plenty of classes and workshops are available to help. Finally, established online platforms like eBay and Etsy provide forums for marketing products.
Designers everywhere are becoming entrepreneurs, pivoting from the creative to the business worlds. Many young people are pivoting from curating online spaces to creating physical products and launching businesses. Widespread pivoting from product concepts to business creation is also driving urban revival in cities like New York.
Pivoting describes the movement from inspiration to production. It involves transforming intangibles like dreams and desires into tangible, marketable products. Pivoting bridges the gap between social and market norms, requiring skills not usually characteristic of the business world.
Products that have embedded meaning are more attractive to an audience that shares the meaning. For example, Apple products have a “cool” aura as a result of the company’s ability to produce innovative, attractive, and quality products. When pivoting from creativity to creation, a prime consideration is making the product relevant to its audience.
Because pivoting from creativity to creation requires capital and markets, the assistance of a person who can make the right connections is a must. This person is a “wanderer” who may be a talent scout, a coach, or an agent, but he or she is the link between creativity and practical necessity.
Building a pivot circle of supporters also helps bring an idea to fruition. Many entrepreneurs start out with the help of family and friends, and then expand their circles through social networks and other media. The goal is to leverage creativity through the support of those who see the value in an idea or product.
Some creators are serial entrepreneurs who specialize in ideas and then leave development to someone else. Others prefer to see an idea through the developmental stages and into the marketplace. Some startups, such as YouTube, pivot by selling to a larger platform like Google. Other entrepreneurs prefer to build their companies by themselves through platforms like Etsy.
Charisma is a powerful tool for entrepreneurs because it inspires a larger following. Some people view charisma as an internal light that the lucky are born with, but anyone can learn to become more charismatic. One common trait of leaders with charisma is the drive to achieve more than just profits. They follow a calling or a higher interest. They understand that the relationship between leaders and followers is the promise of meaning in their lives.
To be successful, an entrepreneur needs a product with an aura, a wanderer to help bring the product to the world, a pivot circle or network, and the charisma that comes from learning to clearly articulate a calling.