Peer to Peer Magazine

June 2012

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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limitations. In contrast, the explosive potential of the Intersection is immense. The number of possible combinations of concepts across fields is exponentially greater than the number of opportunities for original thinking within the boundaries of just one. Not all of us are tasked with generating new product ideas, devising new marketing strategies or founding new enterprises. But in a competitive global environment, we face life and workplace challenges every day. In the creative potential of the Intersection, we discover a wellspring of glistening new possibilities that anyone can tap. Breaking Down the Barriers Knowing where to look for revolutionary concepts isn't enough. We have to break down the barriers that keep us from seeing them. Obstacles to perceiving them are built into our thinking and our education. In the normal course of things, this separation is generally more beneficial than otherwise. It allows us to assimilate received knowledge without having to question and rediscover basic premises. It enables us to focus on specific endeavors, to benefit from experience and to apply known solutions. But when we escape the corral and venture into the wild terrain of the Intersection, familiar rules and established habits of thought are counterproductive. So how can we get loose of the mental halters that rein in our thought processes? Johansson devotes six chapters to techniques we can practice in order to maximize our potential in the Intersection. Among them are: • Gaining exposure to people of different cultures • Working in diverse fields • Preparing the mind for the convergence of random notions • Recognizing and reversing assumptions A reversal of assumptions led to the invention of the RSA cipher and thus the encryption technology that enables secure transactions on the Internet. Says the author: "Forcing a breakdown of associative barriers means directing the mind to take unusual paths while thinking about a situation, issue, or problem. One of the most effective ways of accomplishing that is to perform an assumption reversal. By reversing assumptions the mind is encouraged to view a situation from a completely different perspective, clearing the path to the Intersection." Luck seems to play a big part in creative breakthroughs, according to some who have experienced them — luck or some other inexplicable process that causes the right combination of elements to spring to awareness at the right moment. A recurring theme of Johansson's book is that we can, to a great extent, make our own luck. The Virtue of Quantity One way of improving our chances — increasing the likelihood of hitting on that landmark idea — is to generate lots and lots of ideas. The Intersection abounds with them. And don't stop there: try them. "The most successful innovators," he says, "produce and realize an incredible number of ideas." The more ideas we generate and work to implement, the better our chances of producing one that bears fruit. Right now, says Johansson, is a better time than ever before to explore the Intersection. Three forces combine to enlarge its creative potential: the movement of people across cultural divisions, the convergence of scientific disciplines and the leap in computational technology. Staying the Course The reality is that many ideas will not pan out. The level of risk associated with truly innovative concepts is far higher than that of building on an existing platform of successful development. The author dissects the mechanisms of expectations and rewards, risks and fears, and dependency on value networks that typically inhibit execution. In the process, he challenges the conventional model of brainstorming that's so popular in business settings and proposes modifications aimed at maximizing its utility. Even our hiring decisions, he observes, can affect how freely we access our inventive powers and those of our colleagues. The best way to mitigate the risk of implementing ideas born of novel combinations is to be ready to learn from every one that falls short. Persistence is the key to breaking through with a winning concept: "Perhaps the most important strategy for success at the Intersection is to remain motivated." Expect failures, know how to turn their lessons into gains, and you can weather the storms that sink so many hopeful vessels. The need for bold new approaches that break down barriers has never been greater. At the same time, the number of potential points of contact between fields is constantly expanding. The way to the future is not to follow well-worn paths to predictable destinations but to step into the infinite web of cross-connections that is the Intersection. Meredy Amyx is a an editor and writer with three decades of experience in high-tech in the heart of Silicon Valley. She enjoys exploring the intersections of her fields of interest, which include language, philosophy, music and art. A member of the Bay Area Editors' Forum and an active member of the South Bay Branch of California Writers Club, she can be reached at Peer to Peer 97

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