Creative Thinking for Business
Creative Thinking E-book
How The Mind Works
Let’s talk briefly about the basics of how our minds work and how that process affects creative thinking. Basically your mind is a “pattern recognition system.” It’s very efficient at this process and we couldn’t function the way we do as human beings if our minds didn’t have it. If we had to analyze every detailed piece of information before we took any action, we would have a hard time tying our shoes.
Language is an excellent example of this pattern recognition system and the creativity of the brain. You have to create patterns for words and sentences when you first learn to talk and read. Later on, you can easily recognize the patterns of letters that make up words and the words that make up sentences.
Sometimes our mind is too efficient and it misses some of the details. Have you ever been reading a newspaper and suddenly the last sentence doesn’t make any sense? You go back and read it several times and you finally get it.
What causes this?
You were probably scanning the words in the sentence and missed one or more of the words. This led you to the wrong meaning of the sentence. Only after you slowed down did you get the “right” answer.
It’s fairly easy to see how this same pattern recognition function of the brain could make you come to the wrong conclusion under many other circumstances. When we read, we quickly try to put the words and sentences into recognizable patterns. We do the same with all kinds of data and information presented to us. We do this so quickly that we often overlook key data and make wrong conclusions.
One of my favorite hobbies is flying hot air balloons. Discovery, not pattern recognition, plays a big part for people that are seeing – or riding in – a hot air balloon for the first time.
Here’s what happens. When we start the layout and inflation of the balloon, people who have never seen the operation have no idea what to do. It’s new to them and they have no pre-established patterns or mind set. They do whatever I ask and don’t question it.
See the difference? People have a very pattern oriented mind set when it comes to day-to-day activities like brushing their teeth or driving a car, but not when they first experience something brand new like a hot air balloon ride.
Let’s dig a little deeper into pattern recognition. It’s important to realize that your mind creates, stores, and recognizes patterns. All three of these factors have a key impact on the creative thinking process. The fact that our mind can create a pattern, when perhaps none really exists, is profound. Let me say that again. The mind can and does create its own patterns that it then stores and later recognizes when presented with data. Raw data is received into the brain and is then quickly digested into a recognized pattern.
Our experiences and previous perceptions have a profound effect on how the data is digested. Think about the “machine” example again. This digested data will form different patterns for different people. To be successful using creative thinking, it is key for you to understand this concept – that the same raw data looks different for different people.
When solving a problem, we digest information and then put a plan together. After we have a plan, we execute it and measure the results. The plan and the action taken will be different from one person to the next since the digested data is manipulated based on experience.