Open and Sustainable Innovation Systems (OASIS) Lab working notes

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Z: Analogies can be a powerful driver of creative breakthroughs


Analogies can help people come up with more (though not necessarily very novel) ideas [@chanImpactAnalogiesCreative2015]

Be careful though: need to navigate the fact that Z: There is a "Sweet Spot" in Analogical Distance

Also note that there are multiple mechanisms

Direct, e.g., some relation or solution element in the source analog solves the currently open problem in an innovative way

The innovator has mapped relations between the source and target analogs

Described as structural alignment by Gentner’s structure mapping engine (SME)

MAC/FAC, LISA, and other models

Some mapped relation solves a currently open problem

This view of analogical inspiration draws on the existing literature on analogy and problem-solving, where analogies benefit problem-solving in domains such as math and insight problem-solving according to the following general process: a problem-solver faces some target problem for which he does not currently see a solution for, maps a source problem-with-solution to the target problem via analogy, and transfers and adapts the solution to the target problem (Gentner et al, 2009; Gick & Holyoak, 1983; Novick & Holyoak, 1991). There is little doubt that this is an important part of the story: much work has shown that this basic process can and does support innovation in design (Casakin & Goldschmidt, 1999; Dahl & Moreau, 2002; Helms et al, 2007; Linsey et al, 2007, 2008; Tseng et al, 2008). For instance, Linsey and colleagues (2007) showed how design students who had previously encountered an inflatable mattress product were able to spontaneously use this analogy to solve the problem of designing portable dumbbells. Also, Gero and colleagues (Gero & Kazakov, 1998; Kulinksi & Gero, 2001) have constructed computational simulations of direct transfer of solution concepts via analogy.

Z: Analogies can be a powerful driver of creative breakthroughs