Challenging Assumptions Is Key to Creativity

Posted by on Jul 1, 2011 in Creativity | 2 comments

One of the major blocks to creativity is the assumption that things have to be a certain way because that is how they are now.  Improvement opportunities arise when this assumption is challenged.  All of us have mental assumptions about the way most systems are supposed to work.  As a result we have a mental assumption or paradigm about how we are to proceed to think when seeking to create a new solution.
A good example of this is the contrast in the development of the airplane by the Wright brothers and Samuel P. Langley.  Langley, then secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, was given $50,000 by the US government to develop a flying machine. He hired the best engineers in the country and had the news media following his every move.  He tried twice to launch his machine from a houseboat on the Potomac River and both attempts failed.  The Wright brothers, on the other hand, had very little money and no one on their team had more than a high school education, but they were able to accomplish something that others could not.  Why?  They challenged the assumption that the wing had to be fixed and developed a control system to twist the wing tips to preserve balance in flight.
Challenging the status quo and thinking outside the box are key to enhancing creativity and making continuous improvement.

2 Responses to “Challenging Assumptions Is Key to Creativity”

  1. Anonymous says:

    The Wright brothers story is a good one Jim.
    It also demonstrates the need for a working environment that supports out of the box thinking.
    The brothers were not tied by bureaucracy, Langley was.
    In a corporate organisation, unconventional ideas are often perceived as risky and an unwelcome distraction from defined corporate objectives.
    Successful corporate innovators have highly evolved business skills ensuring collaborative stakeholder buy in to ensure their ideas fly.

  2. Thanks for your feedback!

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