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Design is a Superpower

how the mind limits creativity

There’s been a lot of talk about innovation and creativity and how best to go about implementing these techniques into your life, advertising strategies, product design or business development. Now, I cannot say for sure as I have not scientifically tested this thesis and it’s really open for feedback, but in any case, something to twerk about.

Everyone from FastCo.Design to Forbes to Wired have all published articles about the secret to innovation and creativity.  The Journal for Consumer Research even published an article that declares 70db of background noise as the perfect level to maximize creativity (see it on the

So, while i’m listening to Led Zeppelin at 70db’s on my Sonos speakers in my large open loft space (all are necessary for creativity  according to scientific research), I realized that all of this is bullshit.  Actually, it’s more athletic than you think and kind of like a mechanic adding horsepower to your engine by altering it’s onboard microchip. In fact, it’s way cooler too. After obsessing over my favorite article “What Neuroscience Says About The Link Between Creativity And Madness” and then watching Stan Lee’s Superhumans (and since this is full disclosure, The Wolf of Wall Street), I realized that creativity and design thinking is a superhuman power and that I, in fact, poses this power. Let me explain how I do it.

image by Fritz Kahn

In the brain, there’s a process called the Central Governor that regulates physical exercise so you don’t pass out. It’s more specific but basically it fakes out your body thinking it’s more tired than it is so you stop what you’re doing and chill out. The term “governor” comes from a device used on engines to limit how fast they run. The purpose of the governor was to prevent the engine from damaging itself by spinning too fast.  Professional athletes have figured out how to control (or eliminate) their Central Governors in order to do superhuman feats like swim across the English Channel or riding the Tour de France.  But like all good athletes (and mechanics) there’s a way to manipulate the Central Governor so that you can bypass any regulations that your brain is sending in order for you to reach your full speed.

Now, what if there was a Central Governor for creativity?  And what if you could turn it off!

Creative geniuses and leading world innovators have figured out how to turn theirs off!  Have you?



Additional links (aka footnotes):
11 Nuggets Of Advice For Design Students, Direct From The Pros
Solving Problems for Real World, Using Design
How Do You Transform Good Research Into Great Innovations?
Method’s Method for Building Breakthrough Products
Trumping Brainstorming
Why Companies Are Terrible At Spotting Creative Ideas
10 Surprising Things That Benefit Our Brains That You Can Do Every Day
Fresh Thinking on Innovation