Solvitur ambulando – A Great Creativity Hack

Solvitur ambulando – it is solved by walking.

That’s the slogan for Keri Smith’s wonderful book The Wander Society (and here).

Her book is a manifesto for getting out and directly experiencing life through unplanned, mindful wandering.

The Wander Society Manifesto

It’s a great idea.

We need slack in order to have great ideasWandering creates slack – unstructured time in our day. That’s where ideas come from.

Physical activity helps us think better. This study outlines the benefits of walking. That’s just the physical part of it. Smith focuses on not so much on the exercise part, but on engaging directly with your environment as you walk. But in both cases, your thinking improves.

We need to experiment – the second use of Solitur ambulando is: “the problem is solved by a practical experiment.” When we try new things, we often rely on logic to figure out if our idea will work. This usually misguides us. It’s better to test the idea through experiments.

There’s an interesting tension between these two definitions – walking/wandering is open, and not task-based. It’s an oblique approach to engaging with your problem, which is the most effective way to deal with complex systems. Experimenting, on the other hand, is more direct.

To make our ideas work, we need both parts. The open, oblique wandering helps us have the great idea in the first place. The experiments help us figure out how to make the idea work in practice.

In both cases, Solvitur ambulando is a pretty useful creativity hack.

Let’s start walking.

Student and teacher of innovation - University of Queensland Business School - links to academic papers, twitter, and so on can be found here.

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