Which leads to the subject of this post. A NY Times article introduced me to Maria Popova and her fabulously creative blog, Brian Pickings. And by creative, I mean unlikely. Yes there's such a thing as run-of-the-mill, what-you'd-expect creativity. Sometimes even really, really excellent run-of-the-mill. I've used it myself to keep food on the table over the past couple decades. And it has its purpose. But it's never the gateway to a fresh way of thinking.
The article touched on the roots of Ms. Popova's ability to think unlikely:
After graduating from an American high school in Bulgaria, she enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania, where she quickly grew bored with what she calls the “industrial model” of education, involving large-scale lectures. While still a student, she was working part time at an advertising firm in 2005, when a colleague sent around an e-mail with clippings of rivals’ work to inspire the team.
Ms. Popova thought it was the wrong way to spur imagination, so she told her boss she would begin sending around her own inspirational e-mail regularly. It would contain everything from a new piece of research into biomimicry to a haiku by a Japanese poet. Without much thought, she called it Brain Pickings. “It was the opposite of how school made me feel,” she said. “It was a kind of Rube Goldberg-like machine of curiosity and discovery.”
I've been on the end of the "e-mail with clipplings of rivals' work to inspire the team." I'm sure I've sent them out myself. But I've never been on the end of a biomimicry/haiku e-mail at work--which, to my mind, would be the epitome of 9 3/4 thinking.