COMBINATIONS

“Without this playing with fantasy no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of the imagination is incalculable.” CARL JUNG

The countless different substances in our world, from goose down to granite, are made from a relatively small number of atoms combined in different ways. Atoms differ in the number of a few subatomic particles they contain. The diversity that is our universe is just elec- trons, protons, and neutrons mixed up in different proportions.

In the world of ideas, concepts are continually being combined to create great ideas. The first airplane was a glider with an engine. Add a surfboard to a parachute and get kiteboarding. Giraffes are cows with long necks. Kate Gleason used the mass-production techniques she learned as a supplier to Henry Ford’s automobile fac- tories to create the first subdivision of tract homes. Almost infinite variety can come from putting things together in new combinations.

In the combination hack, combine your seed idea with other concepts. Start with your best conventional solutions to your problem. How could your seed idea add to those solutions? Or try to merge the seed idea with an anti-solution, a concept that seems to make your problem worse. Oxygen and hydrogen behave explosively when they are apart. Together they are benign water. You never know how characteristics may change when concepts are combined.

Combine your seed idea with a Chris Concept from your idea list. Use your toolbox of ideas to grow more ideas. Or combine one seed idea with another randomly chosen seed idea. The result is cer- tain to be outside your rut. For example, what ideas can you create by combining Joan of Arc with the old idea of amphibious cars?

If your problem was getting a promotion, you might combine the two and realize that Joan of Arc and amphibious cars were successful in specific, unusual circumstances. What unusual circumstances would allow you to thrive and also lead to advancement? Or, if you were trying to get your spouse to join you at social functions, imagine a party where your spouse, Joan of Arc, and an amphibious car would all fit. Then remove Joan and the car.

NO BAD IDEAS

“A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.” JAMES JOYCE

Pattern-breaking exercises are successful if you break your own habits of thinking. Of course, you still want to find solutions.

These ideas will all be useful. There are no bad ideas, only Chris Concepts. Even the most unlikely idea that you generate can be useful in solving a tough problem, and we will use ideas like these in the next chapter.

If you do find an idea that seems promising, record it as a solution seed. These are the ideas you feel you can grow into viable solutions. Solution seeds aren’t necessarily feasible solutions, but you like them and they have potential. These are your best or most unusual ideas.

SOLUTION SEEDS

GET PEOPlE FROM WEALTHY NATIONS TO MOVE TO POOR NATIONS FOR MUTUAL ADVANTAGE. REMOVE BARRIERS TO PEOPLE IN IMPOVERISHED AREAS, IMPROVING THEIR OWN CIRCUMSTANCES.

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