Dive Into Other Worlds/OG

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Dive Into Other Worlds
Contributors Christian Kohls
Last modification May 17, 2017
Source Kohls (2016)[1]
Pattern formats OPR Alexandrian
Learning domain

You are an expert in your field. You have done your homework and did a lot of research and you got all the facts ready. But still, no solution in sight! You need a kick into a new direction. You need a chance to see your problem in a new context.

You need some inspiration, a spark from somewhere else. You need new ways of thinking and elaborate problems with a new mind set. You don’t want to re-invent the wheel.

Other fields have problems similar to the ones you’re trying to solve. You could make use of existing solutions and draw analogies to your own field. You may want to combine solutions from other fields with your own resources.

Therefore, dive into other worlds and learn from them.

  1. Discover new worlds: Try something new every day. Change your route to work, go to another restaurant, cook a new meal. Try new hobbies, new book/film genres, new journals and magazines, new destinations for traveling. Note that this is only your starting point. It only raises awareness of other worlds.
  2. Select new worlds: Explore both worlds that always attracted you and worlds that never occurred to be interesting to you. Make a list of worlds that you want and/or should explore. At least some of these worlds should be unrelated to your “common” world. Leave the comfort zone. Make yourself comfortable elsewhere, too.
  3. Engage in new worlds: Deeply engage in some new worlds. Consider how much time you can and need to spend with new topics. Are there good introduction books? Can you take a local seminar? Do you need to travel? Can you combine vacation time with new experiences? Do you have the opportunity to really live at a different place for some time?
  4. Live in parallel worlds: Engage in multiple unrelated projects at the same time.
  5. Interfuse the worlds: Think about which processes and solutions from one field can be adapted in another field. Use experiences and perspectives from one field as Thought Triggers for another field.


  1. Leonardo da Vinci was active in many different fields; Goethe was both writer and scientists.
  2. Hemingway wrote some of its best novels abroad.
  3. First and second generation immigrants are often very creative[2].
  4. Guest professorship at other universities is very common in academia.
  5. Corporations often have trainee programs where young employee switch frequently departments.

Even thinking about other places or far distant cultures and times can increase the chances of an insight moment[2].

Another way to engage in multiple worlds is to run multiple projects at the same time. While this can also be very demanding, you will also discover that each project inspires the other projects you are working on as well. It might be helpful to draw a MIND MAP to make yourself aware about the connections between several projects.

The most creative minds are those who have been engaged into more than one field of study. If you have deep knowledge of several fields you can start to connect dots between formerly unrelated areas or ways of thinking. You can also combine ideas from different fields or draw richer analogies. If you are a product designer you may learn from biology how nature has designed things (this is called bionics). If you work in industry A you may learn new business models and processes from industry B.

Speaking several languages can also broaden your way of thinking. Everyone who is fluent in at least two languages knows that there are many meanings that are very hard to translate because there is no literal equivalent in the other language. That’s why many English words and alliterations become now part of the vocabulary of other languages. Languages form your thinking[3].

You can learn a lot by studying other fields a little. However, you will only start to think, feel and judge like an expert of a field if you really become a professional in that area. The point is that it isn’t enough to have a passing knowledge of another discipline, but be able to engage its facts and techniques. Instead of “knowing” that artists are emotional, temperamental, and occasionally inspired, you should become an artist. Instead of “knowing” that psychologists largely test their hypotheses with experiments, you have to run your experiments in order to understand the difficulties and see how data is mapped to conclusions.

There is another way to intertwine different worlds: The Dream Team (Dream Team) pattern suggests interdisciplinary teams: The right mixture of people is more creative. Include in your team experts from your domain but also from other domains.

Digital tools for diving into other worlds

Fig01 Dive Into Other Worlds-OG.png
Figure 1. Watch TED talks about topics you never heard about before.

Fig02 Dive Into Other Worlds-OG.png
Figure 2. Subscribe to unusual newspapers and magazines on your tablet. Explore their style, content, and ads.


  1. Kohls, C. (2016, April). Creativity patterns: 5 Habits. In Proceedings of the 10th Travelling Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (VikingPLoP 2016) (p. 9). New York:ACM.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Kounios, J., & Beeman, M. (2015). The Eureka factor: Aha moments, creative insight, and the brain. New York: Random House.
  3. Deutscher, G. (2010). Through the language glass: Why the world looks different in other languages. New York: Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Co.