Reading around

In an earlier blog post, I referred to James Webb Young’s book, A Technique for Producing Ideas, which links innovation and creativity to the capacity to see new relationships between old elements. I was originally directed to the book by Shawn Callahan at Anecdote. Now Shawn has written a blog post on collaboration. In it, he points to the use of analogies to prolong interesting conversations.

In collaborative conversations an analogy provides a new frame for thinking about a problem. …

So to be a good collaborator we need to have a repertoire of analogies at our disposal. So how do we do it? …

The first thing is to increase the variety of experiences you have. A short film festival analogy will lack richness or might not even occur to you if you’ve never been to one. But simply doing heaps of new things is not enough because you can’t do everything. So the second best way to is to hear, read, experience stories. …

But you can’t stop there. Experience without some form of mindfulness is unlikely to stick with you in a way that you might remember when grasping for an apt analogy. If you want to remember something, tell yourself a story about it that you can picture in your mind, smell, taste and hear.

So: discovering more about things beyond one’s immediate area of work can promote innovation, and stories can promote collaboration. What more could one want to justify a wide range of reading?