Many times I have asked myself why some people and companies seem to be more creative and innovative than others. Do some people have superior DNA or are they blessed with a bigger brain? I read a book during my summer vacation that shed some light on my question. I would like to share it with you here.
What differentiates a “great” brain from other brains is not size. The difference is density. For instance, Albert Einstein’s brain was actually 20% smaller than an average brain, it weighed 1230 grams (normal brain weighs 1,3 – 1,5 kg). Einstein’s brain was thus unique because it was much more dense than an average brain. And a dense brain is more creative! Let me explain.
Your brain works pretty much the same way as your muscles. Both get stronger the more couplings between the cells you have. So when you go to the gym and work on your biceps for the beach season, your muscles don’t get stronger because more cells are created, but because more couplings between the existing cells are established (and they get bigger because muscles bind more water and sugar).
What made me happy is that you can train your brain, like you do your muscles, to become smarter and tighter. Being creative means to combine and connect all your different knowledge areas in your brain. Let’s say you are interested in, and know quite a lot about, ERP systems, mobile solutions, history, religions, cycling, hunting and boats. Being creative is about connecting these pillar knowledge areas to each other. Challenges in one of the listed knowledge areas can lead to a solution in another. It’s about using your imagination.
One of my favorite axioms is: “Imagination is more important than knowledge” [AE]. Now, when I (partly and basically) understand how the brain works, I’ve actually uncovered the explanation to Einstein’s expression. It’s the same as saying “Couplings are more important than knowledge”.
What does all this mean to an organization like IFS and the company you are representing?
You can actually train your brain through different exercises and thinking techniques to be more creative. But more interesting, you as a representative of an organization can utilize the phenomena of maximizing the number of couplings between different people’s brains within your own organization.
Many studies show that creativity is strongly dependent on the environment you operate in. That means that you have to shape an innovative company environment that enables as many couplings as possible between as many different people as possible. Achieving that will definitely generate more and better ideas—I guarantee it.
At IFS, we use an agile development methodology when developing our business software, IFS Applications. This methodology forces us to involve not only people from different business areas within IFS in the development cycle, but also our customers and partners. We see very positive results through this methodology as we produce and release more functionality with better user experience and quality. This may sound complicated, but the only thing we are doing is to create more couplings between people’s brains. It really is as simple as that.