On Imagination, Creativity and Innovation

The triad of imagination, creativity, and innovation is a much interesting topic to study as much as it is hard to approach imaginative creativity. Do these follow each other in a ladder-type consequence? Or, they co-exist in a tetrahedral structure? Do they follow each other in waves because things tend to move in waves? Or, is it better to draw them in a Venn diagram? Or, even better to imagine a new way of how they interact? Do they feedback to each other? So many questions cloud my mind.

or, fractals such as:

These aren’t preliminary questions. Logic and scientific thinking may operate against imagination. For every action, there is an equal opposite action. This linear thinking doesn’t go along with the butterfly effect in which small actions might generate actions well beyond logical thinking. And yet some people still think linearly.

Watching birds flying tells us in V-formations that birds save this way about 78% of their flying energy had they been flying singularly. These numbers defy logic and we need to imagine more to create more. Imagination comes to relaxed minds while asleep, having a shower, walking in a forest, or watching birds fly. The Fibonacci distribution of tree leaves inspires the idea of distributing solar collectors similarly. Tree leaves are in essence solar energy collectors. The branching of tree leaves and the branching of veins in our bodies are similar as they both follow the Fibonacci distribution. They seem worlds apart because we aren’t relaxed enough to imagine. The tree leaves move like springs and produce musical sounds. It is a great lesson on how we may synchronize our works so that they may also be musical.

Humans were not born to extrapolate the past to the future. Our world isn’t linear. We may have our own butterfly effects by making small changes that create huge possibilities. We need to expand on our imagination as a feed for our creativity so as to arrive at innovative products. What seems a stupid idea that defies logical thinking may in fact be a great one, but our lack of imagination kills it.

If we need to fly to new horizons then we need strong wings of imagination.

The examples are many. Some trees vibrate to clean off the dust. This opens the idea of vibrating cables to clear them off the snow. Using a helicopter may force the cables to vibrate and drop off the snow. Putting two lenses adjacent to each other is a normal thing in eye-glasses. Who would dare but a child to put one on top of the other? It is a silly idea, isn’t it? But that is how a microscope works. We might be too logical to imagine. We need therefore to spend more time with children. If we need to fly to new horizons then we need strong wings of imagination. I feel children fly with their imagination because they are like birds and the flapping of the wings of their imagination makes it easier for them to fly higher. It is us who bring them back to the ground.

As we know more, we discover how lesser we know. Knowledge isn’t enough. It is imagination that makes us see dreamy ideas only for us to mock them instead of combining them with creative ideas.

I thank you Sara Jacobovici for it is your comment on my previous post that prompted me to write this post. Your inspiration goes beyond imagination.


Ali Anani
Ali Anani
My name is Ali Anani. I hold a Ph.D. from the University of East Anglia (UK, 1972) Since the early nineties I switched my interests to publish posts and presentations and e-books on different social media platforms.

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  1. Creativity is the basis of innovation, they are complementary activities. There is no innovation without creative ideas. Innovation is the result of creativity in an appropriate organizational culture. And it is this business culture that stimulates and welcomes, through creative techniques, the possibilities for the development of personal and group creative skills. Techniques for generating creativity are implemented in the organization (enterprise, government agency, professional studio, university or primary or technical school).
    Creativity is something that can be developed both on a level individual and group. For this purpose it is very important the internal corporate atmosphere which must favor the development of new ones
    ideas and new initiatives. In the context of this positive atmosphere, “techniques” developed to facilitate the development of creativity can be used.
    If creativity is to “innovate”, creative thinking must take place beyond known limits, outside the box. It is necessary to develop curiosity, to move away from conventional ideas (considered a priori as “rational”) and from formal procedures, depending only on the imagination, on divergence; evaluate the uncertainty and analyze multiple alternative solutions.
    To be creative you need to make your mind work. From a functional point of view, among the fundamental activities of the mind there is precisely the imaginative function or of representation, prediction and elaboration of ideas.
    In modern organization, the organized exercise of creativity must be converted into a standardized process.

  2. Ali, I love how you always look to nature to find the metaphors and lessons to be learned. You always make me think. A couple of pieces of the puzzle that I felt were missing were curiosity and logic. I think true innovation has to be rooted in the problems that need to be solved. Innovation for innovation’s sake is meaningless (we saw a lot of that happening about 10 years ago when innovation was the buzz word of the day). Creativity and imagination aren’t enough to ensure that meaningful innovation is accomplished. Does that make sense?