Novelty is the result of constant experimentation and the willingness to push the boundaries of what people perceive to be acceptable or normal.
I also believe that it can occur with or without deep knowledge of what has come before. When you to start to create linkages between things that haven’t been associated in the past, you help reframe people’s perspectives and achieve a level of newness.
I have found that the best way to be original is to forget what you think you know about something. Starting a process from the beginning without rules to abide by can also spark creativity. So can limitations because it forces you to look for alternatives.
Proportional change is often the result of starting with what you know and making small adjustments with each iteration. Exponential change is the result of rethinking an entire process or system. It can also be accidental.
People need space to create and isolation certainly helps, too. A market for your idea can be helpful, but often people aren’t initially aware that your solution can be of use to them without some kind of marketing to them.
Digital tools have accelerated novelty. One is able to make connections faster, build virtually, and harness the power of data to spot data and trends.
With the apparent speeding up of the creation of new ideas, evidenced by the sheer number of people interested in becoming entrepreneurs, designers, or startup founders, is there a chance that the level of novelty will reduce over time? That is, creating something that is truly new will be harder and harder to do because seemingly everyone is doing it. Is there a chance that what is being created may just become subtle variations on what has come before?
Meetups and social gathering are a great place to share ideas, but the real work is being done on the fringes and edges of an organization as people work to meet the immediate needs of customers.
Breaking with what people perceive to be socially acceptable is a large barrier to creating novelty. The first step is the hardest because people will notice that you are deviating from what you have been doing before.
Maybe that’s the simple secret to creating something new… break the pattern first and change will follow.
[Photo: A plant wall in Rosslyn, Virginia.]