If one particular thinking strategy stands out about creative genius, it is the ability to make juxtapositions that elude mere mortals. Call it a facility to connect the unconnected that enables them to see relationships to which others are blind. They set their imagination in motion by using unrelated stimuli and If one particular thinking strategy stands out about creative genius, it is the ability to make forcing connections with their subject.

LIKE THROWING A STONE INTO WATER. When you drop a stone into a pond, you see a wave emanate outwardly in a plane. The stone jostles the water molecules, which, in turn, jostle neighboring water molecules. Thus, waves of relayed jostling molecules are propagated by the action of dropping the stone. Yet the waves are essences of neither the stone nor the water. Each wave is distinct and measurable and has its own integrity as it visibly grows and travels outward. The consequence is a new pattern of events that has a life of its own, independent of the stone that initiated the action. By dropping a stone into the pond, you created something that did not exist before, a wave.

In the same way, in order to get ideas, you need a way to create new sets of patterns in your mind. You need one pattern reacting with another set of patterns to create new waves of ideas. Each new idea that you imagine is like dropping something new and strange into your challenge to see what pattern of waves you create in your imagination.

Leonardo Da Vinci discovered that the human brain cannot deliberately concentrate on two separate objects or ideas, no matter how dissimilar, without eventually forming a connection between them. No two inputs can remain separate in your mind no matter how remote they are from each other.

DuPont developed and manufactured Nomex, a fire-resistant fiber. It’s tight structure made it impervious to dye. Potential customers (it could be used in the interior of airplanes) would not buy the material unless DuPont could manufacture a colored version. This did not seem possible. Until one creative chemist read an article about gold mining and how the mines were constructed. This inspired the chemist to compare Nomex to a mine shaft in a gold mine a subject that had nothing to do with Nomex. What is the connection between a tight structure and a mine shaft? To excavate minerals, miners dig a hole into the earth and use props to keep the hole from collapsing. Expanding on this thought, the chemist figured out a way to chemically prop open holes in Nomex as it is being manufactured so it could later be filled with dyes. It was a tremendous success.

When we use our imagination to develop new ideas, those ideas are heavily structured in predictable ways by the properties of existing categories and concepts. We have not been taught how to process information by connecting remotely-associated subjects through trial and error. This is true for inventors, artists, writers, scientists, designers, businesspeople, or everyday people fantasizing about a better life. DaVinci’s thinking process provides a means of producing blind variation of ideas through the use of unrelated stimuli, such as random words, random objects, pictures, magazines and newspapers to produce a rich variety of unpredictable ideas.


Imagine you are a member of a police force and your force is directed to create new ideas to enforce the speeding laws. First, generate as many ideas as you can that will help enforce speeding laws.

Now suppose I appear and tell you that one thing that can really change behavior is fun. Can you think of any ideas that would make obeying the speed limit fun?

One thing that many adults find fun to play is the lottery. Can you create speed laws that are based on a lottery?

This is the challenge that police in Copenhagen faced. They created a speed camera lottery that proved fun can change behavior. What they did was on a select route in the city they photographed and recorded the speed of all cars. The speeders got a fine and the people who kept to the fine limit were entered into a lottery for the collective money paid by the people who had been caught speeding. This resulted in a tremendous drop of the average speed in the city.

Get a copy of Thinkertoys : A Handbook of Creative Thinking Techniques by MICHAEL MICHALKO and learn the techniques that creative geniuses have used to get their ideas throughout history.

Michael Michalko is a highly acclaimed creativity expert. To learn about him visit:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: