WORKSHOP

Creativity IN Science and Technology:

REIMAGINE THE FUTURE

Creativity In Science & Technology

The Brain Innovation Project. Science and Technology Innovation Workshops Berlin.

WHAT YOU WILL GET

  • Return on investment in both the short and long term through enhanced creativity
  • A wide range of practical tools and techniques to explore areas or domains in new ways and to open up new creative avenues and options
  • Discover and explore techniques used by great scientists of the past to boost their imagination and creativity
  • A heightened ability to complement technical expertise with imagination and creativitiy
  • An understanding as to how and why the brain takes in, organises and makes connections between sensory data, experience and knowledge
  • The ability to quickly move between focused and more expansive thinking
  • A greater trust in your abilities to imagine, perceive and think in different ways
  • An understanding of the similarities and differences between innovation and creativity in science and technology and other more general approaches to innovation and creativity
  • Clarity on different types of innovation and creativity as they relate to science and technology
  • Complements rather than replaces your innovation processes
  • While the focus is on practice (tools), there is also an emphasis on the theory (brain) as to why and how the tools work

WHEN

This is offered as an in-house course or workshop.

WHERE

This is an in-person workshop. Short or introductory sessions can be done online.

DURATION

This is from 1 to 3 days, depending how deep you wish to go into the topics

Other

This can be combined with individual or team coaching for specific innovation breakthroughs.

SUMMARY

The Brain Innovation Project. Creativity in science. Berlin.
Scientific Innovation

Give yourself a cutting-edge in the breath-taking scientific and technological developments that are changing the world. You will discover practical and powerful tools to leverage your remarkable evolutionarily-developed brain in ways which combine both your professional expertise and the power of your imagination.

Standing On The Shoulders of Giants

The roles of the imagination, insight and dreams in the innovation and creative process are often associated with the ‘softer’ arts of literature, music, painting, etc. But science is also littered with numerous cases of pioneers tapping into the power of their imagination to gain new insights and perspectives; literally seeing the world differently.

These range from Einstein’s day dreaming (he got to call them thought experiments) to Steve Job’s psychedelic experiments and from Niels Bohr’s understanding of Atomic Structure to Dimitri Mendeleev’s grasping of the arrangement of the Periodic Table. Sophie Germain, a pioneer in number theory, imagined conversations with Archimedes. Maryam Mirzakhani, the first female winner of the Fields Medal in Mathematics was known to extensively practice visualisation techniques.  Even Edison – the inventor of modern Research and Development and ‘Man Of Science’ – was known to spend 2 – 3 hours a day alone practicing imaginative techniques as a way of providing fresh insights and impetus to his work.

Of course, all of this was underpinned by decades of hard-work and learning. The point is not to emphasise expertise OR imagination.  Rather, the real ‘magic’ happens when the brain combines them both.

Creativity For All

Creativity is not limited to visionaries. We all use it in one way or another, though often we are simply unaware of it. This makes it harder to deliberately cultivate this innate skill, as people see creativity and imagination as being something that ‘others’ have. But we all have brains and this is where the new insights occur, as we make novel connections around existing information and knowledge.

Of course, on a day-to-day basis, innovation and creativity are a series of small incremental steps built on solid expertise and a collaborative processes to be managed and rigorously tested in a data-driven way. But the real, transformative power in the innovation and creativity process is in the combination of subject-knowledge and imagination. It is about being able to see the wood and the trees; being able to dive into the tiny parts and bask in the broader principles; being both expertise-driven and being able to think beyond the potential constraints imposed by expertise and current understanding.

Human In The Age Of AI

Arguably, as Artificial Intelligence (AI) plays an evermore central role in research, the power of the human brain to imagine new possibilities has never been more important. Rather than merely sub-contract or rely on AI to shape our future STEM research, it is time for us to focus on what our pattern-generating brains do best; to make new connections, envision alternatives and explore what is unknown. This means being open to new ways of thinking and imagining if we want to develop the cognitive flexibility to adapt to and help shape the realities of a rapidly changing world.

This workshop does not seek to replace your innovation process. Nor does it aim to promote a particular or comprehensive model of innovation. Rather, the emphasis is on highly practical tools and techniques which can be used by individuals or teams to boost and speed up their cognitive creativity and innovation and to complement your existing innovation processes. For those seeking insights in specific areas, individual and team coaching is also available.

Note: This workshop is focused on creativity in STEM areas. We also offer more generic innovation and creativity workshops around such topics as social impact, leadership.

CONTENT

NOTE

The below is illustrative as the precise contents included in the workshop will depend upon the length of time available and your needs and interests. The content can be explored as the generic topic of innovation and creativity, or tailored to a specific issue or breakthrough.

Definitions and introductions

The content from this introduction will be introduced gradually throughout the course, but will include the following:

  • Different types of innovation and creativity: From Trial and Error to Aha Moments
  • Understanding the biological and evolutionary basis of our brains and why this important for innovation and creativity
  • Relationships between Artificial Intelligence and neuroscience
  • Examples from scientists in history

Sensory input: Looking for the new and different

The ‘data’ we receive about the world comes to us through our senses (touch, vision, sound …) and forms the basis of and raw material for our experience and interpretation of the world around us. We like to think that we perceive the world ‘as it is’. But, as resoundingly demonstrated by neuroscience, the reality is that we are aware of only a tiny fraction of the information about the world which is available to us. And even this, we all experience differently.

While people vary significantly, the underlying point is that if you leave the input the same, the results will be the same. This is particularly true when there are high levels of deeply engrained expertise involved and when past strategies have proven effective. So in order to innovate, we must be able to get new and additional input and be prepared to build on and go beyond our automatic responses. But we can’t always be meeting new people, travelling to exotic places or receiving visionary input. So what are we supposed to do in the meantime during the day to day business of working and living?

Here we explore:

  • What learning and new experiences really are
  • Predictive Processing/ Coding: a central theme in modern neuroscience
  • The Zeigarnik Effect: Closing and opening cognitive loops
  • Exploring the New and Different

Changing perspectives: Seeing The Wood And The Trees

A central dilemma in most innovation is getting the balance right between seeking novelty and drawing upon experience. Or, to put it another way, relying on expertise (domain knowledge and experience) and going beyond expertise. The point is not that one is better than the other, but that they both have their uses and the key is being able to switch between them at will. This is central to having the flexible and open-minded approach needed to identify and take advantage of new opportunities.

Here we will:

  • The power and the limits of expertise
  • Look at spotlight v lantern consciousness (a key concept in cognitive neuroscience) and how to instantly swap between them
  • Attention shifting and information processing
  • Changing physical perspectives to change mental perspectives

Unleashing Imagination: Childish Toy Or Adult Super-power?

Imagination can be a divisive topic, with some believing they have none and others seemingly stuck in their imagination. It can also seem like a mystical process, where unexpected insights, creativity and ideas come together.

Whereas our normal perceptions are based on our external sensory input, imagination essentially uses ‘internally generated sensory data’ (i.e., memories, mental maps) and reorganises them in novel ways. By learning to leverage imagination more strategically, we can solve problems in unexpected ways and open up new possibilities for innovation. But to do this, often it requires being prepared to let go of what we know – at least on a temporary basis – as our expectations and expertise can actively prevent us seeing new possibilities.

In this module we will explore how to:

  • Combine imagination and rational, systematic and logical thinking
  • Develop your own 24/7 advisory committee
  • Thinking outside of the box: Using metaphors to open up stuck situations
  • Visualise different outcomes

Going Deeper into innovation: Deep Relaxation, Dreams and Sleep

Getting good sleep is a – perhaps the – key requirement for performance. But it’s restorative powers go beyond that.

For at least 2 – 3 hours every night we go into a world of delusional, make believe hallucinations where, according to modern studies of sleep and dreaming, we explore possibilities, run scenarios and test hypotheses. While most of our dreams are seemingly mundane, sleep is also a time when our experiences and information gets deleted, cut, stored and rearranged and, in doing so, new insights can emerge. Indeed, the number of scientific and artistic breakthroughs in dreams highlights the enormous creativity that can occur when we are no longer anchored in our waking reality.

While it is beyond the scope and available time of this course to explore this issue in detail, we can touch on that intermediate state between being awake and asleep called hypnogogia. As well as having many proponents (e.g., Thomas Edison, Salvador Dali), hypnogogia has also recently been studied more systematically by researchers and this will be our starting point.

Here we explore:

  • Aha Moments, what they are and where they come from
  • A simple technique for quickly getting to a state close to hypnogogia and the ‘space’ where Aha Moments are more likely to occur
  • Using sleep to solve problems

WHAT OTHERS SAY

The word we most often hear in feedback is ‘surprising’, as things start to make sense in a way which is both intuitive and obvious at a certain level, yet entirely unexpected and different at another. 

But here are some other comments:

Feedback

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