Originally published in PSFK’s Need To Know Magazine Volume 1.
Tom Moore of Mandalah, a conscious innovation boutique based in São Paulo, Brazil, explains link between experience and innovation:
All of you know the story. Archimedes observed that the water level rose when he got into the bath. He understood that the increase in the water level was equal to the volume of his body that he had submerged. ‘Eureka!’ he shouted. Archimedes’ principle was born.
While it is advisable to display a healthy level of skepticism to such Eureka stories—do new ideas ever arrive, perfectly formed, in a single moment?—it’s worthwhile to consider how the discovery happened. Archimedes wasn’t sitting in his study, he was doing something. It was during a (rather mundane) moment of physical activity that the idea appeared.
This is the basis for creativity.
All types of artists, from painters and novelists to composers and actors, understand this at an intuitive level. They draw on their life experiences as a continued source of new ideas. However, the deep link between experience and creativity is often overlooked by organizations trying to improve their innovation capabilities.
Introducing the experiential learning step before ideation brings many practical benefits. It helps to disrupt entrenched forms of thinking. It builds empathy with the subject area. It increases the levels of participation and collaboration between individuals.
But possibly the most valuable thing is that these experiences stimulate the essential, emotional side of personal creativity. An experience brings the individual into a closer, deeper relationship with their subject area. They live it and feel it. Ultimately, creativity is an emotional, as well as rational, act.