To readily discover new ideas, we must behave like hunters, not farmers.
Farmers cultivate land, tediously tilling the soil, harvesting the crop, planting and re-planting. Farming is safe and fairly reliable. If the conditions are right and you take care of the crops, you get the same result each year. Farmers are more inclined to protect their land, to stay in one place, and to not progress.
It’s easy to live life with the farmer’s mentality. But the farmer doesn’t discover new crops on his or her own. The farmer will not push boundaries or create new innovations, because the farmer is content with his or her success.
To be creative we must think not like the farmer, but like a hunter, seeking prey wherever we go.
This is the point TrendHunter.com founder Jeremy Gutsche makes in his new book Better and Faster (due out March 17th, but you can pre-order now).
While the farmer is content to stay with his crops, the hunter proactively pursues the new and fulfilling. As a result, the hunter is more likey to make discoveries, to adapt to changing circumstances, and to fearlessly go wherever he or she needs to go.
These are the same traits, Gutsche argues, of the most successful innovators, both big and small.
If we want to find more ideas, faster, we should take Gutsche’s advice and think like hunters rather than farmers.
In the book, Gutsche gives us six patterns we can use for thinking like idea hunters in order to identify better ideas faster. The hunters patterns are: Divergence, Convergence, Redirection, Reduction, Acceleration, and Cyclical.
How can we utilize these hunter-inspired patterns in order to discover new ideas?
Divergence is about breaking free from the status quo. It’s about personalization, customization, and rebeling from the mainstream. To use divergent thinking we must look at what people are notdoing in order to spark ideas.
Convergence means to combine, mix, integrate, and add value through layering. We can use convergent thinking to combine one or more traits or features of existing ideas. Like using technology to create artwork, or pairing the experience of one thing (e.g. dining at a restaurant) with another thing (learning a new language) in order to create something new (a restaurant-style language class for learning).
Redirection means to refocus the momentum from one thing to another, to reverse or rationalize. We can use redirection to take assumptions to an extreme, like the concept of milk being so popular, all you need to remind someone of it is to ask: “Got milk?”
Reduction is about simplification, efficiency, and focus. To reduce ideas to their simplest core in order to uncover new ways of looking at familiar things. Apple, Tesla, and Toyota specialize in this form of elegant reduction in order to wow the world with their products.
Accelration means dramatically ehancing something, to the point of perfection or (more commonly) exxageration. Working on an idea despite opposition, like pushing for a better way to do something common.
Cyclical patterns are about predictability: nostalgia, seasonality, and other repetitive cycles. Seeing the cyclical patterns in life and using them to spark ideas. Finding inspiration in vinyl records, high-rise jeans, or something else your parents used to love but has since gone out of style.
Unsurprisingly, these patterns have been brought-up in creative circles for decades.
The entire world of fashion is cyclical. Tesla motors was able to create a world-class, fully-electronic automobile by focusing on reduction. Convergent and divergent thinking patterns have been a repeated source of creative ability since the dawn of psychological research.
While the mentality of a farmer is safe and reliable, the patterns of an idea hunter are what commonly leads to new and worthwhile innovations.
To discover more ideas, faster, we should heed Gutsche’s advice and look to the six patterns of idea hunting.
Photo of Hunter S. Thompson by Paul Chesley/Corbis.