Intersectional Interests

Below is the blog entry I wrote for Creativity and Problem Awareness by Mark Escaler. It’s one of my favorite classes I’m taking this semester!

I’ll probably be re-posting the things I write there on here. Take his class. Seriously. It’s one of the most thought provoking, interesting, practical and entertaining classes I’ve taken in my 4 years at ateneo and we’ve only had 2 sessions so far!

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There are two things I place high value on – having conversations and being open-minded.They are not mutually exclusive. I believe that the former needs the latter and vice versa in order to produce new insights that will enrich ones knowledge and give birth to different ideas. That’s why I love coffee shops. Although there’s a subtle aroma of intellectual pretension among the smell of freshly ground coffee, personally the coffee culture is the kind of intimate atmosphere that sets the right conditions for what Frans Johansson in The Medici Effect calls “Intersectional Thinking.” He defines this as:

When you step into the Intersection, you can combine concepts between multiple fields, generating ideas that leap in new directions—what I call intersectional ideas.

He contrasts this notion of intersectional thinking with the traditional “Directional thinking” which he defines as:

If you operate within a field, you primarily are able to combine concepts within that filed, generating ideas that evolve along a particular direction – what I call directional ideas.

Although the book is set within an economic context where intersectional thinking gives birth to innovation in products, I’d like to put it into practice and apply it on a personal level.

Going back to the example of conversation, directional thinking occurs when you talk to the same people about the same things because they pretty much have the same mindset as yours. In this context you’re merely relating to one another along the same line of thought and in a way, re-affirming what you already believe in.

I randomly found this in Xocolat, Katipunan. This is what i mean by coffee culture!

But when you’re open-minded, especially when you talk to someone who doesn’t have the same upbringing as yours, is when intersectional thinking happens. Whether or not the discourse reaffirms what you already know, the exposure to something different generates the insight that will give birth to a new way of looking at the world.

However, it’s not enough to merely look at things differently, to let these coffee shop ideas simmer in your mind then get cold. You have to act on it in order for something revolutionary to occur.

This is exactly what Steve Jobs did with the iPod Revolution. His pioneering attempt to integrate different fields like lifestyle, music, technology and computers has launched a cultural revolution of people wired on intersectional thinking.That one random calligraphy class he took that was unrelated to his overall career path is what inspired the aesthetic interface that sets the ipod stylishly apart from its competitors today.

Essentially what struck me about the video was that it’s not enough to have ideas. You need to have the balls to pursue it, just the way Steve Jobs did. Johansson says that innovation occurs only when the creative idea has become realized. If you want to survive in this constantly changing and highly dynamic digital age, directional thinking wont cut it. It’s not competitive enough.

Intersectional thinking is the key to growth, whether it’s on a personal or economic level. The common ground is that you have to be open to the experiences of others. But it all starts with having a conversation with different kinds of people. You’ll be surprised at the points of common– sorry, intersectional interest you can arrive at. If you have the audacity to act on it, then it has the power to change the world.

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