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The Myths of Innovation by Scott Berkun

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Chapter 6. Good ideas are hard to find

While waiting in a city park to interview someone for this book, a nearby child played with Silly Putty and Legos at the same time. In my notepad I listed how many ideas the young boy, not more than five years old, came up with in 10 minutes. Sitting in the grass, he combined, modified, enhanced, tore apart, chewed on, licked, and buried various creations I'd never have imagined. His young mother, chatting on a phone while resting her morning coffee on the park bench, barely noticed the inventive creations her toddler unleashed on the world. After being chased away for making her nervous (an occupational risk of writers in parks), I wondered what happens to us, and what will happen to this boy, in adulthood. Why, as is popularly believed, do our creativity abilities decline, making ideas harder to find? Why aren't our conference rooms and board meetings as vibrant as childhood playgrounds and sandboxes?

If you ask psychologists and creativity researchers, they'll tell you that it's a myth: humans, young and old, are built for creative thinking. We've yet to find special creativity brain cells that die when you hit 35, or special hidden organs born only to the gifted that pass ideas to our minds. Many experts even discount genius, claiming that the amazing creations by Mozart or Picasso, for example, created their amazing works through ordinary means, exercising similar thinking processes to what we use to escape shopping mall parking lot mazes ...

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