The quality of our lives, our children's, grandchildren's - and all future generations - is dependent on how well we solve problems as they arise. How well we think together. How well we learn. It may come as a surprise, but we are improving.
All problem solving - all innovation - has its genesis in the connection of a previously unconnected thought. We call this "creative thinking." Our ability to think creatively is improvable. With proper cognitive skills training, minds fueled by diverse feed, and constructive human interaction, we will solve problems and create a great tomorrow.
Our species has a DNA-level drive to improve its lot. But this drive can be thwarted or catalyzed by everything from government policy to educational efficacy. From corporate culture
to parenting skills.
Perhaps the single greatest innovation of the last 50 years is an unsung one. We all know about the impact that computing has had on our planet. Many of us are alive today because of advances in medical science. Our global economy - despite all of the complaining - is feeding more humans and fueling fewer wars than at any time in modern history. We've made progress. While the underpinning of much of this progress is infrequently articulated, its impact is profound.
We have figured out how to systematically improve the ability of human beings to be better creative problem solvers.
But little is spoken about this breakthrough. In part, those who have found that this can be done see it as a competitive advantage, so just as our DNA drives us to improve, it also subtly draws us to hide those things which give us advantage. We are, perhaps, on the cusp of a radical improvement in the dissemination of this breakthrough.
The most rapidly evolving large scale system on the planet is commerce. Because of market competition, any commercial enterprise must constantly improve or die. It's a simple reality most people live in every day. Now, the wisdom about how to fully leverage human minds and systems to produce newness is easily accessible to any commercial entity. Three things have come together to create a perfect storm for a positive future:
- The learning focused on improving emotional intelligence as popularized by Dan Goleman.
- The practices developed by the general field of creative problem solving methodology which grew out of the work of Alex Osborn and Sid Parnes.
- The knowledge about building organizational structures to sustain innovation culture that has come from the research and practice at New & Improved.
We are seeing a much more rapid uptake on all of these skillsets than at any time in the past. Training systems, accountability measures, and undeniable wisdom about the need for sustained innovation culture effort to drive financial solvency has permeated much of the commercial world and is now making its way to government, educational and religious systems.
But we can, and should, go faster in our shift to more sustained innovation cultures. Not just as a means of competitive advantage, but also as a way to assure that we, as a species, are competent to solve increasingly complex problems in a world made so by rapidly advancing innovation. It's a paradox that innovation both solves problems and creates the next challenge. One variable, however, will assure that we thrive. The human variable. And we know what works.
Strengthened Curiosity - When we hook people on constant, diverse learning, we create the polymathic tendencies that make for radically useful and novel creative breakthroughs.
Improved Humility - The more we learn, the more we know we don't know. We begin to realize just how unconsciously incompetent we often are. Humility fuels curiosity and a drive for improved human interaction.
Cognitive Mastery - The creativity that leads to innovation, and the emotional intelligence that leads to productive interaction are both - essentially - skills of thought mastery. Humans that notice and manage thought-steam become wise.
A planet inhabited by humble, curious, wise individuals. Imagine it. Let's potentiate movement to this future by more rapidly implementing what is known about creating sustained cultures of innovation.