To summarise Marty Neumeier’s 2013 book Metaskills: when the robots rise up to conquer, our only hope, our last line of defence, will be to hit them good and hard with a hefty dose of creativity. It’s our last chance, a full-on, hardcore assault of creative power, right where is hurts. Boom!…Or, at least, I think that was his point…don’t quote me though.
As we automate and roboticise more and more tasks that we really just can’t be bothered to do ourselves, in the end, all we’ll have left to claim we are still superior – that we still have mastery over the machines – is our ability to think outside of the lidded vessel – to think and act unorthodoxically…irregularly…nonconformistically…offbeatedly……as they say.
Not for the first time I’m joining the many voices that have expressed, more elegantly and in much greater detail, that original thought is our most valuable gross international product. And, literally, thank God (or Darwin, if you’re less spiritually inclined) because without that, without ‘new ideas’, let’s face it, we’re robot fodder.
Now I for one, have what neuro-types might call a “growth mindset”. None of us have to rely on what talent or skill we already have and infact we’d all do well, better actually, to expand our abilities through conscious, mindful, concerted and continual training.
Dorte Nielson and Sarah Thurber's book The secret of the highly creative thinker is an aid to just that. Sub-titled "How to make connections others don't", the book guides you through the theory then the practice – the conscious, mindful practice – of connection making. Building on what people like James Webb Young began fifty plus years ago Nielson and Thurber continue the de-mystification of the creative process with the science and provide numerous exercises to help anyone expand their abilities.
It's a handsome volume, easy on the eyes and pretty quick to work through up to the exercises which you can spread out for as long as you like. It's one of those "I wish this was around when I was starting out" kind of books.
In our modern era of near-androidian supremacy, as singularity inevitably approaches and those in the know – those beyond the "creative industries" – elevate creative thinking to a prized status, teaching like this is welcome and valuable.
If nothing else, it means we’ll be ready for the robots.