Power of Imagination: How to activate the imagination to solve business problems

Masaaki Hasegawa

Oksana Sedashova

The power of imagination can not be overestimated. The best minds of mankind told that each invention began with an idea that arose in their head. This is evidenced by the notes of Leonardo da Vinci, where he carried ideas from his head to paper by sketches. The great scientist who overtook time - Nikola Tesla - spoke of the power of imagination that "I'm not in a hurry to start practical work. When I have an idea, immediately I begin to develop it in my imagination: I change the design, make improvements and mentally bring the mechanism into motion. For me, it does not matter at all whether I control my turbine in my thoughts or test it in the workshop. I even notice that her balancing has been disturbed. It does not matter what type of mechanism, the result will be the same. Thus, I can quickly develop and improve the concept without touching anything."

And today, in the VUCA world, where everything is unsteady and unpredictable, thinking processes, including the ability to use the imagination skill, acquire special value.

At the end of September 2018 at the Fortune Global Forum in Guangzhou, China, Jay Walker, an entrepreneur with 700 patents, said about the importance of imagination in the business world. As he said, that imagination is an excellent resource that few people use. We are talk about innovation, but there is no innovation without imagination - the moment when we have an original thought."

What is Imagineering?

Imagineering means how to make your imagination happen in a physical reality. In the current education system, execution is considered more important that grades are given according to the results of exception of assignments given by authority. In this context, imagination is often obstacle because it distract one from being focused on executing orders and it also often brings up questions to authority. Through growing up, most people start paying attention to practical skills that could be used to work for a company or get promotions there rather than exploring one's unlimited imaginary world as it is considered meaningless and unpractical to get success in society. Creative people are not always welcomed by the majority in the traditional education system and they to follow their path in art, design, music, and other kind of humanistic subjects. As a result, the world is divided into business people who are heavily oriented toward execution and creative people whose realms tend to be limited within so-called creative subjects.

Imagination first, action second

In the current educational context, most of approaches to creativity are heavily taking actions that would lead desirable results. This idea is based on cause and realist relation: behaviorism. Taking an example, if you do A, B will always happen. It is simply an application of Newtonian mechanics to human activities that is an attempt to find an ultimate formula to duplicate desirable results by copying and imitating a group of selected people, mostly those who have marked outstanding performance in economy. However, Newtonian mechanics is designed for objects such as cars and tables. Human activities are driven and affected by thought and emotion that are not objects. Thus, it is not an effective idea to expect a certain results by copying actions. It is important to shed light on how human mind function that causes actions. One's reality is limited within what they can imagine and feel comfortable. Simple case is that those who cannot imagine themselves flying cannot fly an airplane. Therefore, whether it is realistic or not, in order to convert some ideas into reality, first one needs to be able to imagine it.

Activate your cognition

Actions, including unconscious actions and behavior, come from decisions. Decisions are results of thought and imagination. One's actions try to maintain consonance between physical reality and imagination that is a major source to avoid dangers and maximize expected outcomes. Unconsciousness processes and screen information gained from 5 senses in order to prioritize information to pay attention to important things to achieve the desirable outcomes. It is called reticular activating system that has evolved to increase the probability to survive. So, one's reality is not consist of actually what are surrounding her but what that person actually believes that creates the importance and priority to screen the information. So, the bigger you can imagine, the more opportunities you can cognize and the information that has been ignored can be utilized to make imagination happen.

How to enhance free imagination

In order for the imagination to work at full capacity, you need to allow yourself this. Because the imagination is preceded by convictions and states. Pay attention to the convictions: are they supporting or limiting? Imagination is boundless freedom. Believing that everything is possible will help to think outside of the box. The conviction that everyone has all the resources to achieve an imaginary result, will gain confidence and will move you forward. Limiting convictions, such as "It's impossible", "It's only for the rich / intelligent / cleaver / those who have time"? Belief that daydreaming and imagining something big is a sign of immaturity daydreaming and imagination, and others, trigger non-resourceful states of the individual: despair, doubt, laziness, self-doubt, depression, helplessness,anger, fear, confusion, anxiety. These states transform the imagination so that it activates the development of unproductive scenarios that can be scrolled in the head. And this is the end of innovation. Resource states - energy, joy, flow, inspiration and others - help you feel physical and spiritual strength and energy, and direct the power of imagination to successfully solve any problem where the potential of imagination is needed.

Create your own creative environment

In order to enhance imagination, it is key to develop an environment in which people can imagine freely without having fear of being judged by others. It could be an individual environment or group environment but in either case, first step is repeating to imagine something that would be considered unrealistic. Comfortability comes from habit: what you are used to, repeating to imagine something unrealistic would become something normal in a while. However, in order to realize it, it is required to prepare an environment in which a person can freely imagine without having any judgmental thought on imagination.

Not just imagine, but feel with 5 senses

Imagination is often associated with visualization of some idea. In order to leverage of unconscious power to make imagination happen, it is important to use five senses to imagine as vivid as possible as if it is real. Leveraging homeostasis that tries to maintain coherence between how it perceives reality, one's conscious and unconscious mind can be activated to detect more information and opportunities to convert that imagination into reality. In order to imagine things that vividly, it is required to research profoundly, start trying different things, and dedicate the image in mind. This process actually accelerates to convert imagination into reality.

Connect dots beyond borders

Creativity is often considered a special talent or inborn capability, but it is merely a pattern to connect dots. Creation is not about making something new but it is about how to connect dots differently. In order to transform an irrational idea into reality, it is necessary to connect dots differently from the usual pattern because that pattern is a source of perception to think it is irrational. Practicing to connect dots beyond borders would allow a person to have different ways to observe reality, have discoveries from ordinary landscapes, and generate new meanings in something that have been considered meaningless.