How Do People Get New Ideas? (UNFILED)


Title : How Do People Get New Ideas? Author(s): Isaac Asimov


Based on article written here which based on an essay by Isaac Asimov.


  • Cross-connection between different sources is crucial.
  • Isolation is required for creativity, as the creative mind keeps continuously shuffling information even if they are unaware, e.g. Kekule working on the structure of benzene in his sleep.
  • The presence of others could inhibit this process, however it is still desirable to meet others since given different people know different links, which can be connected together.
  • For thinking sessions where people discuss their ideas, there must be ease, relaxation, and a sense of permissiveness.
  • If a single individual present is unsympathetic to the foolishness that would be bound to go on at such a session, the others would freeze. If a single individual present has a much greater reputation than the others, or is more articulate, or has a distinctly more commanding personality, he may well take over the conference and reduce the rest to little more than passive obedience.
  • Small groups are good for thinking sessions, 5 maximum. A larger group might have a larger total supply of information, but there would be the tension of waiting to speak, which can be very frustrating. It would probably be better to have a number of sessions at which the people attending would vary, rather than one session including them all.
  • For such thinking sessions, there should be a feeling of informality. Joviality, the use of first names, joking, relaxed kidding are, I think, of the essence—not in themselves, but because they encourage a willingness to be involved in the folly of creativeness.
  • With regards feelings of responsibility, the great ideas of the ages have come from people who weren’t paid to have great ideas, but were paid to be teachers or patent clerks or petty officials, or were not paid at all. The great ideas came as side issues.
  • Hence to reduce the burden of guilt felt in case people are paid for their ideas, and the negativity that arises from it, one could be given sinecure tasks to do—short reports to write, or summaries of their conclusions, or brief answers to suggested problems—and be paid for that.
  • In such thinking sessions, the presence of someone to ask the right questions with minimal interference, and someone who makes the necessary comment, stirs up the conversation and brings everyone to the point is also important.


Author: Nazaal

Created: 2022-03-13 Sun 21:45