Creative Leaps and Knowledge Integration

John Cimino

September 15, 2015

Rearrange the following quotes in an order which most appeals to you. Create your own thought paths through the ideas. Notice how your sequencing creates new layers of meaning among successive quotes. Share your favorite combinations with friends and colleagues, but not before they've come up with a series of their own! Then follow the link below to find out more about knowledge integration.

  • "Always the more beautiful answer who asks the more difficult question." (e.e. cummings)
  • "Anytime you think the problem is out there, that very thought is the problem." (Stephen Covey)
  • "The opposite of a small truth is a falsehood. The opposite of a great truth is another great truth." (Neils Bohr)
  • "The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions that have been hidden by the answers." (James Baldwin)
  • "The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them." (Albert Einstein)

Creative leaps are our personal acts of imagination. They help us connect one idea or insight to another. No matter how remote or improbable those connections might be, creative leaps help us explore those possibilities. As connections are made, new relationships are established and our thinking expands. The “canvas for our thinking” expands and becomes better networked, our big picture gets bigger and at the same time more cohesive. Creative leaps are, therefore, acts of imagination which are also acts of synthesis, discovery and integration.

In exercises like the one above, we are playing with the connectivity of ideas and our own talent for weaving thought-path legacies through a sea of related insights or experiences. We love storylines, continuity, next steps, next chapters. Additionally, however, each thing we see, think or experience becomes a lens through which we see, think and experience what comes next.

Sequence matters. Sequence creates a logic of its own and drives the flow of our thoughts. It’s directional, but it’s also cumulative and layered. The lens of our experience becomes increasingly kaleidoscopic, colored by the myriad reflections of all that has come before. Metaphors and perspectives play off one another in a subtle and often surprising counterpoint: this image bridging to that, echoes and resonances ricocheting through our senses and memories. Somewhat mysteriously, we find a favorite path through the luminous undergrowth of possible connections, a thought path we might well use again on some future journey through this same terrain. In effect, we have created a map, or (if you prefer) an encompassing storyline for our thinking. We feel a certain satisfaction at having achieved this. It’s what we humans like to do.

In designing thinking and learning activities of this sort, my colleagues and I at Creative Leaps International often employ a strategy we have dubbed “creative juxtaposition.” As in the example above, the task is a simple one: to invite acts of imagination, connectivity and integration, merely by juxtaposing two or more mutually attractive ideas (or images or experiences) side by side or in sequence so that our own impulse to connect—or to form a gestalt—is thoroughly catalyzed into play. Once activated, this connective impulse very reliably acquires a life and genius of its own. It is, indeed, play of a high order. Or, to paraphrase the Bard, “When art works, play’s the thing!” And creative juxtaposition is a terrific launching pad for this play.

In our leadership development work for major corporations, we design fully elaborated Concerts of Ideas constructed on this same principle. We use the undiluted potency of the arts to jump-start and creatively enrich that impulse for connectivity. To learn more about our Concerts of Ideas, visit our website at In the meantime, give yourself opportunities to prime your own creative leaps, to jump-start your own acts of imagination and integrative genius. As leaders and decision makers, we know these thought-path legacies to be worth their weight in gold.

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