We have a natural resource we are not using. It is the most valuable resource we have, and the one that makes us who we are, yet, we fail to use it to its full extent: our Imagination.
"Imagination is more important than knowledge... knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world"
Dear readers, we have a problem. You may or may not be aware of it. As loyal readers of The Creativity Post, you might not experience it personally because you obviously acknowledge the benefits of Creativity. But it is a global problem. It affects the future of education, the roadmaps of thousands of companies, and maybe even national and international politics.
We have a natural resource we are not using. It is the most valuable resource we have, and the one that makes us who we are, yet, we fail to use it to its full extent. Instead of being the first and most important tool in Education, Business, and Personal Development, it is often totally ignored. If you wonder what this magical yet rarely used resource is, the answer is our Imagination.
To be honest, I suspected we have a problem before looking it up. But this Google Trends chart is mindblowing. It presents the relative search volume of different search terms over a period of 13 years. When comparing the search volume for Innovation with a more refined search for Innovation with Imagination, the refined search volume is less than 1%.
So among all the individuals, managers, and leaders searching for the term Innovation, probably seeking to improve it in their lives and organizations, only a few make the next step and look for Imagination to refine their search. In other words, they don't assume Imagination has anything to do with improving Innovation.
Or maybe they search just for Imagination (without including Innovation in the search query), well, more bad news:
While this chart looks much better, the search volume for Imagination is still just about 30% of the searches for Innovation. Naturally, not all the search for Imagination are done in the context of Innovation, but even if we assume they are, the data still indicates the majority of people are still not making this connection.
Try comparing the search volume for Education with the search volume for Imagination, and you will get more or less the same results. In fact, there's a more apparent correlation in search volume between Education and UFOs than between Education and Imagination. Is this how most people perceive Education? A discipline with no room for Imagination?
And if you try comparing searches for Innovation/Education with the search volume for the term Observation you will once again get the same results: there seems to be no connection between these concepts in the minds of people searching for information about them.
Something has to change. We are the only species on earth capable of deep observation and imagining. In fact, we were born to do so. Observation and Imagination are not only the key to Creativity. They are the key to empathy, critical thinking, and conscious. It only makes sense that areas as Education and Business Innovation will be based on Imagination and Observation. As this is not the case, we have to bring them back into the picture proactively. Let's harness Imagination and Observation into everything we do personally and professionally.
Get in Gear
When I started developing seempli I knew the key to igniting, improving and maintaining Creativity is the ongoing practice of our Observation and Imagination skills. The core of Creativity is our ability to see things differently.
Improving these soft skills is essential for personal growth. Like many other soft skills, they are the key to achieving profound positive change. But when it comes to business organizations, public organizations, or the Education System, you need a great deal of maturity to invest in such soft skills of employees without seeing its immediate day-to-day application. From the data above it seems that in many (if not most) cases, this connection is far from being obvious to the very same people who would benefit from it most.
Now is the time to bring these two important skills back to day-to-day context, and let them shine and introduce a creative impact in all areas of our personal and professional lives. And the way to do it is by applying Observation and Imagination as the core - the driving force - of concrete and effective processes.
Make Your Organization Different
So, if you really want to make your organization different and increase Innovation while others are just using it as a buzzword, or if you would like to inspire your students and give them the best tools to face future challenges, here's what you should do:
1. Bring Observation and Imagination to the front
Acknowledge Observation and Imagination as core skills in your organization. Innovation is a result. Education is a goal. Without clearly articulating which soft skills are needed to achieve these targets and without setting the ground for practicing these soft skills, it just won't happen.
2. Master Observation and Imagination
If you think you were either born with an imaginative mind or you weren't, you are just plain wrong! The Observe-Imagine skill is like a muscle. If you don't use it for some time, it gets weaker. But like any muscle, you can get it back in shape and improve your performance. All you need to do is practice as much as possible. It's not only achievable, but it is also loads of fun, and starting your day with a smile is a priceless bonus.
In The seempli Creativity Platform we use Seeds and Prisms as the building blocks for an infinite number of creative challenges. Each of them is an invitation to observe and imagine. When you play with seempli on a daily basis, your mind becomes used to seeing thing differently - it's like learning to walk: at some point, it becomes so natural and effortless you just do it. And that's a great time to bring it to actual use.
3. Apply the Observe-Imagine skill
Once you master the Observe-Imagine skill, you can apply as an integral part of day-to-day challenges and processes. The Observe-Imagine cycle can be a driving force for problem-solving, ideation, learning processes, and numerous other applications. That's what we are designed to do best - it's our natural resource - so why not use it on a daily basis in our organizations as well as in our personal lives?
We use seempli Gears for that purpose. seempli Gears TM are Creative Processes that are built on the Observe-Imagine cycle as their core. It's a simple and effective way to bring back Imagination and Creativity to the front, and apply them to your real challenges and opportunities.
This is where I should probably write a closing statement. Instead, I want you to write it.
Think of a challenge you are facing. Think of it as an opportunity. Give it a title with no more than five words and write it on a piece of paper. Now, throughout the rest of the day, think of the words you wrote - think of them as a Seed - and mindfully observe the world around you. Open your mind, try to see as much as possible. Expect the unexpected, and maybe, just maybe, by the end of the day, you will gain new insights on your opportunity and what you should do next.
Now, imagine what you can achieve by mastering the Observe-Imagine skill and applying it to every aspect of your life. Whatever you imagine would be a perfect closing statement.
Lidor’s visual artworks, which are focused on the things hundreds and thousands of people pass by in the street every day, led him to create seempli to inspire people to practice creative observation on a daily basis.
Using seempli Lidor works with individuals, teams, and organizations seeking to develop and enhance their creativity.