Tom Koulopoulos started off Tuesday’s ILTA keynote telling us we’ve been brainwashed. We’ve let technology change the way we behave and thwart us off the course for which we’ve been originally wired. We check our email from our bed. We take photos of our food. We need to be constantly connected.

See the Future Through a New Lens

Tom doesn’t want us to abandon technology. Instead he wants us to learn how to better problem solve in ways that create solutions that haven’t been tried yet. Most of our technology has evolved out of the past. He wants us to see the future through a different lens -- not through a lens of the past, but rather through a lens of a reality we’ve not yet imagined.

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credit: www.delphiinstitute.com

Think about how you currently brainstorm. How much time do you allow? Are you the first person to speak up? Or do require some time to think about it by yourself. Are you adverse to time constraints? How do you handle being challenged by others? There’s no one correct way to brainstorm, but without understanding how you behave and how others perceive your behavior, it’s hurting more than helping.

So much of creativity and behavior is driven by technology, that so many of our solutions are facilitated by technology, instead of out of pure innovation and creativity. Though brainstorming works best when it isn’t structured, Tom suggests using the diamond of creativity during brainstorming: break down problem, generate ideas, focus ideas, then take action. The idea is that the group is focused on the ideas that are generated, not necessarily a resolution.

Editor's Note: Also from ITLA12, read: Diversity Drives Innovation #ILTA12

Brainstorming, MacGuyver Style

For the remainder of the keynote, Koulopoulos had us work in groups to use a set number of objects to create a vehicle that could be moved by wind power -- in just 10 minutes. What this proved to show is that not only are we all able to be creative and innovative using simple objects, but that the way we work together matters. Our team definitely contained all the different characteristics -- some where loud, quiet, more hands on, time-keepers, task-masters. But we all contributed in some way and found the time to do so in a non-chaotic, non-abrasive way. You could have even called it fun.

When was the last time you brainstormed with colleagues and it was a fun, rather than tedious process? Which is Koulopoulos' point -- that the act of creating and innovating should be an engaging process that allows individuals the freedom to explore rather be limited or constricted in their attempt. 

In theory it sounds rather promising, but we know the reality of our lives doesn't always allow it. Koulopoulos knows this too. He asked us (and by extension all of you) to try the following for the next month. When confronted with a solution, first think of all the advantages, then its limitations, next its unique qualities and finally look to see how many of the limitations are not issues after all. We may not be able to change the way companies facilitate brainstorming, but we can definitely work to change the way we solve problems and approach solutions.