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5 Nov 2012

Creative Innovation (Pt 10): Information & Interruptions

This entry is part 10 of 18 in the series Creative Innovation

The tremendous access we have to information helps but also hurts innovation.

Today, we have expansive, quick access to information. Moreover, we have sophisticated reminders of communications we receive and the tasks to do, all of which contains information too. As a result, this information usually arrives as interruptions too.

The problem is that “Too Much Information” (The Economist, July 2, 2011 edition) and frequent interruptions (“Slaves to the Smartphone”, The Economist, March 10, 2012 edition) retard our creativity. As Susan Cain’s article “Hire Introverts” (The Atlantic, July/August 2012 edition) reinforces: “solitude [is] a crucial spur to creativity.”

We do have an education bias. We believe knowledge is power and more information is crucial to that power. Thus, unwittingly we get caught up in an “information arms race” with our competitors, colleagues, coworkers, compatriots and companions. Our multitasking environments only feed this arms race. Yet, this knowledge and information can breed conservatism and indecision, inhibitors too of creativity and innovation.

What do we do? There are several things:

  • Set aside solitude for ourselves and others that we manage, usually early or late in the day
  • Respect others’ time and solitude; someone alone isn’t necessarily an opportunity to interrupt
  • Realize the diminishing returns of additional information
  • Focus on acquiring different information rather than on more information; explore and cultivate diverse views and sources
  • Accept that if we already have knowledge about the topic we can make a pretty good decision and most likely already know it without having to secure more information
  • Remind ourselves that more education doesn’t necessarily make us more intelligent or wiser
  • Take time to unplug from all the prompts, tones and vibrations interrupting our days

By managing our informational intake and interruptions – and those of others –, we can create and develop a creative, innovative work environment.


For additional reading, consider “Your Brain on DDoS” by George Colombo (Twitter: @georgecolombo)


Series Navigation<< Creative Innovation (Pt 9): Pessimism’s PositivityCreative Innovation (Pt 11): Quantification Restricts Creativity >>

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