How to think outside the box

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What does it mean to think out of the box – to be able to come up with new ideas and be more creative?

In this TED talk Professor Giovanni Corazza, a faculty member of the University of Bologna and founder of the Marconi Institute of Creativity, talks about how you can become more creative.

The key to thinking out of the box is to understand what the box is – in your mind – and what it means to think out of it.

All thinking is in your mind – you can’t think out of your mind.

Instead, what this means is that creative thinking is being able to go from what you know to what you haven’t thought of yet.

Being able to cross from one type of state of mind to the other is the essence of being creative.

How do you go about doing that?

The first thing is to realise that most thinking is convergent – we think about what we know and use existing knowledge and tools to approach situations and problems.

Our brains are designed to jump to conclusions quickly – a good evolutionary survival mechanism. You don’t want to be considering all the facts about whether that is a tiger in those bushes.

We also look for evidence that confirms our initial conclusions. There is a flash of orange, the bushes are moving, it must be a tiger.

We then act based on that evidence – climb a tree, run indoors, get away from that tiger.

The thing with creativity is that you have to remind yourself to go through a process of divergent thinking.

Divergent thinking is a way to be creative by exploring many possible solutions.

It asks you to take a more spontaneous, less rigid approach to the tasks, to play with ideas, to be willing to tolerate the absurd, the illogical, the risky approaches.

Above all, it asks you to be open. It’s only when you are open that you have the freedom of mind to think creatively.

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