Analogical thinking: exploring the borders of creativity

(post originally written for linked in)


We recently had a very interesting experience during an innovation project on logistics. The group had a creative epiphany when making an analogy between their work process and… coconuts! Yes, the famous brazilian coconut is a logistic wonder! It has such properties that it can be considered a symbol of economy of resources, inteligent packaging and flexible transportation.

But all poetic thinking, and analogy in particular, is an underutilized capacity in the management world. Although we still use it on a daily basis to explain to a kid, for example, that the subway is like an earth worm, we tend to be very literal in how we describe reality in organizations: business is business. The risk is that we tend to rusten our ability to correlate different groups of perceptions and concepts, and thus bring a whole new understanding to our world and our problems!

Distant universes, such as logistics and the coconut, could be enlighting when connected by similarity ou by difference, as I’ve proposed in the image above. Are the works of Rivane and Kapoor different or similar? The dryness of Rivane’s work, that reminds us of dry skin, and the mirror effect of Kapoor’s ball, that reflects our image, aren’t they both ourselves? Don’t they remind us of who we are: skin and image, real people and seductive reflections in a mirror (or on facebook)?

Of course I’ve cheated, provoking your brain by puting two round images together, and thus forcing some immediate similarity. But we don’t always have that. Analogy doesen’t come naturally: it is an exercise that we must undertake, because all creative process and all innovation, is based on our capacity to open our minds to the different, the divergent, the unusual, be they other realities or other people.

But hey? Why are you posting such phylosofical stuff on linked in? this is supposed to be a professional network!

That is exactly why. My question for all of us is: how can we recover our poetic capabilities and therefore reconnect our minds to the immense creative possibilities of the world around us? How shall we engage people in building innovative images of how our products, our processes and our future might be?


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