Andy’s Quick Hits (8): Why our Brains Miss Opportunities for Innovation

Photo 123535295 / Building Blocks © Elvira Koneva |

When we think of innovation we think of creating something new. A new study shows that, however, we, by default, try to add something whereby subtracting something could make something better.

Two things seem to happen, first those trying to improve solutions or solve problems come up with both additive and subtractive ideas but tend to discard subtractive ideas. Second is that subtractive ideas are ignored completely.

It seem there is a cognitive bias towards additive ideas because they come easier than subtractive ideas which are more effortful — something we know in writing. It is often harder to write short articles than longer articles. The researchers also note that this can become a self-reinforcing strategy.

One of the researchers Leidy Klotz has just published a book on the topic “Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less”.

So when it comes to innovation a question to ask is always: can we take something away?

Andy publishes a quick hit every weekday on all things the brain, behaviour, and business. Please follow to receive your daily dose.

Andy is author of leading brains Review a monthly e-magazine on all things the brain, behaviour, and business

The brain and human behaviour, in business, society, learning, and health.

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