Building from the Hourglass Figure highlighted in a previous post, the creative process begins when you (the brainstormer) state the …
… which establishes the initial general direction for your curiosity to gather information (in other words, to do research.) To begin research, you dive into the world of …
… which is all of the static information there is in the world, the vast majority of which you are not familiar and perhaps don’t even know to know. As your curiosity intuitively asking ‘why is this?‘ or ‘why isn’t that?‘, you begin to gather specific data, such as text, charts or pictures. By selecting these individual items, you turn data into …
… which is distinctive data you’ve selected for your continued curiosity, primarily because you believe this information will help to make decisions or to take steps to accomplish the goal. Don’t forget, even bad information can be helpful because it gives you context and perspective, or suggests different avenues.
The process of how you chose the information is also important, as is the process of interpreting the information. By interpreting information, it’s no longer static. You move it into your head, and by doing so, you’ve turned information into …
… which is information that you’ve acquired by learning. Generally speaking, you have two types of knowledge. First, there’s your existing knowledge, accumulated over the years. (Existing knowledge is specifically known as ‘crystalline intelligence.’) Second, you also have your immediate knowledge, which is new information recently acquired about your topic or issue. Immediate knowledge informs, adds to or changes your existing knowledge. Both types force you to interpret, synthesise and reduce your collective knowledge to an …
… which is the isolation of the essential understanding of a topic, issue or opportunity. An informal definition is: ‘So what’s all of this information mean in ten words or less?’
The best insights are eye-opening, surprising or unexpected. It may also simply reinforce what you thought you knew – also known as intuition. Intuition is a double-edged sword. I’m not saying don’t use it, but at the same time, be careful.
People often say information is power, but information is more or less useless until you decide what it means, or more important, what to do with it. This final point – action – is when you transform the insight into an …
… the most powerful and valuable stage of the Information Chain because it allows you to say “Here is what we should do with our knowledge.”
The Information Chain – from goal through information to knowledge and ideas – might sound clear, but in reality, the path is rarely linear, defined or simple. It’s more likely that a lot of information was synthesized and twisted together – sort of like making taffy – that any path would be impossible to trace.
In fact, noted theologian Albert Schweitzer probably said it best: “As we acquire more knowledge, things do not become more comprehensible, but more mysterious.”
Ah, therein, lies the fun of creativity and ideas.
What else do you do to turn information into ideas?