By David Sable

One of the most famous of the ancient Greek mathematicians, Archimedes, is known best for popularizing the word Eureka — literally “I have found it” — at a moment of inspired intellectual discovery.

For Archimedes, the Eureka moment came in the bath…a Greek Bath. As he lowered his body into the water, he watched it trickle over the side and his mind made an incongruent but relevant leap — that the water that was being displaced was proportionate to the part of his body that was under water.

As legend has it, he went running naked and dripping down the streets of Greek Syracuse, wildly sharing his new understanding of how to measure the volume of irregular shapes. EUREKA!!

In our digital world, where you’d think we have infinite possibilities to make enormous spatial leaps, I find it astounding that we often limit ourselves with linear thinking.

Now, I’m not saying that linear thinking is bad, useless or even passé.

But so much of what you hear at conferences, and so much of what analysts report and so much of the news is predictable and, in my opinion, uninspiring. And so many of the latest greatest never been-seen before are actually none of the above. In fact, take away the name of the company, or service or technology at the core and it all starts to sound the same. Often so much digibabble.

But let’s get back to conferences. You know the drill: One presentation after another. Panels upon panels. Opening remarks, keynotes, highlights, news reports, closing remarks, afterthoughts, parties, swag…

The best part of these conferences, in my view, are the interstitial moments — the conversations you have in between speakers, traveling from room to room. Or the people you meet through people you know or because you’re sitting on the same panel, or you’ve both walked up to someone to introduce yourselves or you strike up a conversation at the coffee line.

That’s why I am a huge proponent of the unconference movement. For those of you who don’t know what an unconference is, it is a conference that eschews the linear order of the conference-convention cycle to create something jarringly different and decidedly non-linear.

Unconferences are driven by the participants. There is little set agenda. No formal presentations. No endless powerpoints or speeches you’ve heard in some form or another at one event or another.

The idea is that if you get an interesting mix of people in a room and let them decide what they want to talk about, how they want to talk, even when and where they want to, it is likely that interesting things will happen.

Full disclosure: I just came back from WPP’s stream, the poster child of the Unconference Movement, which is held in Greece and other places around the world several times a year. There, when you arrive, if you have something you want to talk about, you put it down on a white board, where the conference agenda organically builds hour by hour.

While there, I participated in discussions that ranged from best practices in social media to the future of TV, to digital art, to what content does and doesn’t do, to the maker economy, to what ever happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. There was a demo of drones and a lively discussion about their potential use. I played video games, used my powers of concentration to move a ball along a track, and tried Oculus-based interactive programs. I also served drinks at an event called Midnight Cooking Madness, listened to people play musical instruments, perform and share their talents. And helped a number of different groups brainstorm to come up with ideas to help combat Ebola, from which a website and app materialized overnight.

Every bit of it was non-linear — and the Eureka moments built one after the other. However, it could be argued that the biggest Eurkea moment is that eclecticism enriches experience. Disparate elements drive discovery.

There’s a richness in pairing the digital with the analog.

Randomness actually helps create focus.

Informality drives a different kind of order.

Openness accelerates clarity.

An active experience always trumps a passive one. We’ve said that about education for years, but we paint by the same old numbers when it comes to learning in the business world.

There’s so much out there for us to yet discover.

But to fill up the white board of your mind, you first need to jump in the bath and not worry about the towel.

Article Source: Sable, D. (2014). How to fill up the white board of your mind. Linkedin. Retieved from