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Looking for creative solutions? Stop thinking out of the box

Written by Editorial Team |Published : November 6, 2014 12:59 PM IST

The journal Design Studies recently published a study which says that thinking out of the box or using unrelated concepts to come up with a solution to problems is not always the best idea. Joel Chan lead author of the study from the University of Pittsburgh says that when one needs fresh inspiration for a problem, doing something totally unrelated to the problem, should be avoided. This might yield novel ideas but not necessarily, useful and novel ideas.

How was the study conducted?

For the study, the researchers collected data through OpenIDEO, a web-based crowd sourced innovation platform intended to help people address a wide range of social and environmental problems like human rights violations and job growth for youth.

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What did the study find?

Instead of seeing a bigger effect of far inspirations, the study found that ideas built on source ideas more closely related to the problem tended to be selected more often. The same pattern was observed across 12 very different problems - ranging from preventing human rights violations to fostering greater connectedness in urban communities to improving employment prospects for young people.

What does it conclude?

The theory draws that creative ideas more often come from accumulating many small insights, stretching the boundaries just a bit at a time.

Photo source: Getty images

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