Creativity: Sensing Gaps and Imagining Possibilities
May 12, 2011 1 Comment
In 1916, Einstein published the general theory of relativity. More than 50 years later, NASA confirmed Einstein’s predictions. How is it that some people can seemingly predict the future? I believe it comes down to the ability to sense gaps and to imagine possibilities. At the end of the day, predicting the future may be nothing more than tapping into divergent and convergent thinking skills.
For example, on my last day of work from one of my very first jobs, I wrote down a half dozen predictions about the future of the company I was leaving. I then sealed my predictions in envelopes and gave them to a colleague with instructions to open each one on the date indicated. As my colleague opened each envelope, she was surprised by the accuracy of what I had predicted. In the end, nearly all had come true.
How did I do this? I scanned the situation and identified the key issues. Though there are always many issues (especially when you go looking for them), if you look hard enough you will notice they typically boil down to a key few. With these issues at hand, I then looked for unanswered questions or gaps. Once the gaps were identified, I started imagining, or visualizing, the possibilities. I did so by asking myself, ‘What might be all the plausible futures?’ From there, I chose the most likely outcomes and wrote them down.
Having a future orientation helps with sensing gaps and imagining possibilities. While I continue to surprise co-workers with predictions, I am now better able to describe how I arrived at them.