By Edson Zogbi
If we had to choose the best way to study, inform ourselves, make decisions, feed our tastes, be innovative and creative, live with complexity, and even be happy from now on, it would all be summed up in one word: filters.
Below are 7 keys to fostering an innovative spirit- in business and life:
There is nothing productive regarding teaching- only generating huge grids of subjects and huge volumes of content for students. If a student is interested in 20% of what they receive and these 20% are not equal to the 30% that catches another’s attention, we are being inefficient with this teaching time. Specifically, in this example, unwanted content is pure informational junk.
There are arguments that all content is important for future admissions for other levels of study, especially the university, this only proves how teaching is totally out of touch with the reality we live in. It is an old theme, but in many cases insoluble, due to socio-economic and political interests and structures which are obsolete.
If we think of generating a new teaching platform that makes the most of the student’s vocation, the word filters will be very useful. A child is fortunate to have very good natural filters for what interests him, because of his need for social and systemic adaptation, without the conditions that adults have. But beyond this initial child condition, a new education system should develop tools that provide case-specific content and tutoring individually for each student. I believe that with artificial intelligence this will be relatively easy to do using filters.
From an information point of view the need for filters has long exceeded the point of urgency. It is simple to detect this by noting that many people around us waste a lot of time with informational junk. There is a large amount of time which I find it difficult to separate the chaff from the wheat.
Younger generations, born after the information revolution and within the digital age have less difficulties (and perhaps future ones have even less), but not only is information increasing exponentially, the cross-referencing of data contributes to a huge increase of complexity and what seemed to us to be voluminous in two dimensions (linear thinking) now has three, actually four, considering the time dimension (complex thinking); it´s all much bigger.
We have to develop filters, or we will be swallowed by artificial intelligence. The filters in this case will serve to receive clean, objective, useful information and to return insights or answers (both for men and machines) in the same way.
In a simple, minimalist environment it is hard to make decisions, our choices are obvious in some cases, in others they are torture. Imagine in a world that gets more complex day by day, as I mention in my book on Innovation Management: “For those who surf seriously a wave is a challenge, it is complex, but it is what we want, but for those who do not surf, the same wave is chaotic and the chance to swallow water or possibly drown is huge. ”
And about filters? Hmmm, things can get a lot easier, first because the “guesswork” is dropped right off the bat and objective decisions can come automated, like a multiple-choice test. The truth is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to choose this or that.
A well-designed filter could even include opinions from the non-specialist parties, because complex decisions involving various areas of, we do not know in depth can receive differentiated input, would be like Delphi Methodology* applied to the present, rather than applied for the future.
Time to feed our EGOs. Well that sounds like the easy part, after all what we like, we just like it and that’s it! Not quite, when we include the 4th dimension, time, we see that it changes, and changes faster than we think. It’s easy to notice that as we review ourselves 5, 10, 15, 20 years ago. When we change our tastes over time, for whatever reason – an influential friend, a passion, a change of country – we always have to deal with a new flood of information, until we’re satisfied, because we use our natural filters, clearly.
But there are other angles to note. Many people decide to close their range because it’s less work, of course it’s lovely to be a specialist in a topic, whether it’s personal or professional, but this should not be confused with “closing in on a topic/ closing your mind”, which is synonymous of “intellectual freeze”. Especially because at the pace of the world, specializing but then closing your mind means “voluntary obsolescence”.
Complexity does not forgive, it grows steadily, although it is not by definition, whoever chooses to close their mind will still be part of it, but it will have a smaller, less relevant, crystallized, melancholy role in history.
Now comes the part where I have to walk on eggshells, after all I have the most read creativity book and if I talk about filters without explaining properly it may seem that there is a contradiction, but there is not. Anyone who has studied the creative process, in any version, by any author, knows that to create we have to make two great movements, the first is to open – open the mind, open to the new, the different – finally, receive a lot of information and then making the most of crossings over to generate new ideas, is like the brainstorming (Alex Osborn), or a six-hat session (Edward de Bono), or some other technique for generating ideas.
The second movement is to close, make a funnel to turn the idea into something, a product, a service, art, whatever it is, then we use our filters (we can even superimpose it on the aforementioned theme of the choices, if we wish). It is inevitable that we go through this creative process if we want to create and give relevance to our ideas, but if filters are our choices in this case, there is nothing new about that, right? Wrong.
Because additional filters can vastly increase the level of accuracy we have with our creative actions. Look at innovations, where we can consider tools that filter the initial concept (idea), and going beyond our natural filters, and can contribute to improving the idea, feasibility, risk mitigation, acceleration and more.
Those who work with project management (PMBOK, SCRUM, Agile, and Design Thinking) know this. Even a picture painter, if he has information about acceptable (or impactful) techniques or themes he has the advantage of using filters, of course in the art business anything goes, but this is what differentiates a successful artist from a starving one.
Yes, I mentioned complexity before, in the information paragraph, but living with complexity means “being inserted into it, even passively,” like a tourist sitting in a square, watching the world happen. This conviviality has to do with our moments of leisure, relaxation, amateur sport, art absorption and entertainment.
Hence the question: Is it still good to have filters? Yes, of course, because the fastest growing segment in humanity is idleness, since robots will do much of the work, so having filters to simply be in the complex environment, or to enjoy your idleness, will be of great importance. After all the time is our most valuable asset (much more than money, because it buys everything but less time) and if we have filters to help organize our lives and make the best of time we will not complain about anything, right?
Finally I mention happiness, the subject is slippery, wide-ranging, but I didn’t want to summarize happiness by using filters, I just predict that they will greatly help us to be able to live well within a world where there is no people to teach to live only on the basis of your previous experience, as it is a fast changing world with no forecast of deceleration (think of demography, technology, complex information).
The older and the recorded history will always be useful to us, but never definitive in the face of the future, again considering the complexity, that is inclusive, we need the tacit knowledge that comes to us through the older, as well as the recorded explicit knowledge accumulated. For humanity that will not be enough, in fact it never was, for mankind does not stop (and I love it).
* Authorial content in the book “Innovation Management: How to Turn Creative Ideas into Viable Products and Services” – Google Play
** Creativity: Innovative Behavior within Your Comfort Zone -Google Play
(https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Edson_Zogbi_Creativity?id=23yJDwAAQBAJ&hl=pt_PT) and Amazon.