inGenius, by Tina SeeligThe inGenius Book Club: Cross-Pollination

“Connecting unexpected people, places, objects, and ideas provides a huge boost to your imagination.” ~ Tina Seelig

Chapter Two of inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity discusses the important role of cross-pollination in creativity: like a bee, moving from flower to flower, trailing pollen everywhere we go, borrowing from one idea to improve another. Dan Pink, in A Whole New Mind, refers to this concept as symphony or border-crossing.

Connecting unexpected people, places, objects, and ideas provides a huge boost to your imagination. ~ Tina Seelig, in Genius

Being able to bring together seemingly incongruent ideas and objects requires that we keep an open mind and cultivate our curiosity. In fact, openness to experience has been shown to be the personality trait most closely linked to creativity. Psychology professor Art Markman explains:

“Openness to Experience is the degree to which a person is willing to consider new ideas and opportunities. Some people enjoy the prospect of doing something new and thinking about new things. Other people prefer to stick with familiar ideas and activities.

As you might expect, high levels of Openness to Experience can sometimes be related to creativity. After all, being creative requires doing something that has not been done before. If you are not willing to do something new, then it’s hard to be creative.” Read more

Read “5 Ways To Innovate By Cross-Pollinating Ideas” for an adapted excerpt of chapter two of inGenius, which is titled “Bring in the Bees.” Here are some of Seelig’s ideas for practicing and expanding our ability to cross-pollinate:

  1. Combine unlike ideas.
  2. Talk to people.
  3. Build on existing ideas.
  4. Hire a diverse workforce.
  5. Use a metaphor.

One of her most powerful examples is that of a study showing that whether we think of crime metaphorically as a beast or a virus changes not only how we view the problem but what solutions we offer. Read more about this famous study at “Is crime a virus or a beast? How metaphors shape our thoughts and decisions.”

See also this short video narrated by Steven Johnson on “Where Good Ideas Come From,” in which he reminds us that “oftentimes the thing that turns a hunch into a real breakthrough is another hunch that’s lurking in somebody else’s mind.”

Also in the inGenius Book Club Series: