“We need more innovation”. “We need more creativity”. These are probably some of the most frequently heard statements in business today, and rightfully so.

Entire industries have been radicalised by a host of creative innovations, predominantly tech innovations, and the speed at which this change is happening is frightening.

Yes you’ve heard it, the world’s largest taxi firm, Uber, doesn’t own any cars. The world’s most popular media company, Facebook, doesn’t create content. And the world’s largest accommodation provider, Airbnb, doesn’t own property. Innovation is the driving force of these new business models, and the core ingredient is not developer skill but creativity. It’s not about tech innovation, but the ideas behind it that have the power to shake up whole industries.

In search of creative inspiration, a few of us from the7stars went ‘Off Grid’ this month to get the view of some prominent authors on the subject. The weekend-long conference was held on the private Osea Island, where some of the brightest minds from media, technology, marketing and design came together to take part in talks, workshops and activities.

We heard from philosopher Robert Rowland Smith (Breakfast with Socrates), who believes that true creativity is about things we find hard to express. To explain this he focused on two of his theories, The Solus and Unforgetting.

The Solus is the anti-brainstorm idea. Creativity isn’t always about bringing minds together, sometimes isolation can be an equally powerful origin of creativity. Van Gogh, Steve Jobs and Malcom Gladwell might be seen as mad, awkward, lonely and weird, but they were all independent, creative innovators.

For Rowland Smith, finding your Solus is the key ability of truly creative individuals. Being radically alone, looking inside yourself to find the things that are least acceptable. Your dark side. Get there, go dark, be prepared for rejection, and come out with creative perfection.

Unforgetting is a process for gaining free access to the unconscious mind. This system is built upon Robert’s belief that we never create anything new, we just recover things that have been forgotten. To get there he uses Theory U.
Instead of going from A to B to solve a problem –the supposedly logical way –he suggests that we should do a U-turn and get there the long way around. While this might seem counter intuitive, it is this discomfort that detaches us from reality and allows us to generate unique ideas.

It is similar to an experience we’ve all had –not being able to remember something when we put our mind to it, but distracting ourselves, distancing ourselves from our thoughts, and then having it come to us when we were least expecting it. The ‘Aha’ moment.

For Rowland-Smith, unless you are prepared to be lost, frustrated, or even bored, you will not generate creative ideas. So go forth and lose yourself, but please come back to tell us about your travels.

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