Functional fixedness: when we stick to what we know

Surely, a knife is made for cutting things. And you can only use a cotton swab to clean your ears — right? Functional fixedness is a form of cognitive bias which makes us automatically narrow down the function of each tool. Although functional fixedness offers great mental shortcuts, it can present barriers to working to …

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The creative brain: three ways to cultivate your creative thinking

Creativity is everywhere around us — in the random colors of an artist’s painting, the verses of profound poetry, or an inspiring sculpture crafted from muddy clay. However, being creative is not just related to the arts, and artists are not the only custodians of creativity. Solving challenging problems, coming up with new technology, finding …

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The science of eureka moments

A eureka moment is that magical epiphany when the solution to a problem seems to appear out of nowhere. Also known as an “Aha!” moment, little beats the sudden clarity you feel at solving a puzzle or finally understanding a previously unfathomable concept. Eureka moments can lead to creative discoveries, the triumphant completion of a …

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Jootsing: the art of jumping out of the system

“Constraints breed creativity” is such a popular principle, it has become a design trope. Think outside the box, they say. Rather than just thinking outside the box, “jootsing” is about destroying the box or completely ignoring its existence. The term was coined by Douglas Hofstadter, an American scholar of cognitive science, physics, and comparative literature. …

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How to think better

As Einstein wrote in 1936: “All of science is nothing more than the refinement of everyday thinking.” Why is it that a skill as important as thinking is not a key focus in traditional schools? Why don’t we have classes on decision-making, cognitive biases, and mental models? Can we learn how to think better? It’s …

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Idea evaluation: the other side of the creativity coin

Ideation is often thought to be mostly about idea generation. However, the process of developing ideas doesn’t stop there: it’s followed by an evaluation phase. Balancing idea generation with idea evaluation is crucial to the creative process. “Within the field of creativity, idea generation in general and the usefulness of idea generation methods has received …

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Systematic inventive thinking: the power of thinking inside the box

When talking about creativity, many people will tell you: “Think outside the box!” The catchphrase is so common in management consulting and business environments, it has become a bit of a cliché. What if innovation could be fostered by thinking inside the box instead? That’s what Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT) aims to achieve. The history …

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Investing into the unknown with Lawrence Yeo

Welcome to this edition of the Mindful Makers interview series, where we go behind the scenes with prolific creators and explore what makes them creative and productive. I’m incredibly excited to chat with Lawrence Yeo, the writer and illustrator of More To That, a blog that delves into what makes humanity so fascinating. I first …

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Inner child and inner critic: a battle for creativity

“It takes a very long time to become young,” Pablo Picasso once said. Adults miss the innocent curiosity of their youth; artists strive to reclaim their lost childlike creativity. The creative process often feels like a constant battle between an inner child and an inner critic. Can this creative battle turn into creative balance? Becoming …

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Creative challenges with Alyssa X

Welcome to a new edition of our interview series, where we meet with prolific creators and go behind the scenes to understand their creative process. Alyssa X is an incredibly talented designer, full-stack developer, and entrepreneur. Beside her full-time job at Metal, she launched many creative experiments. Her portfolio of projects includes a design tool …

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