The evolution of thoughts is similar to the evolution of life. First you must have a set of things which are essentially functional upon which alternate things can be constructed. New ideas might have some value, or they might be inferior to the original thoughts, and there must be some testing against some filtering mechanism to find what works best. That is the way living evolution works, but just as with the evolution of life, most new ideas will not work as well as older ones and need to be winnowed out. Thinking about things differently is similar to mutation in a DNA sequence; it will usually come up with things which don’t work as well as the established ones, but sometimes these new things will work better in some situations. It is this application of the new physical structure or the new thoughts to some external reality where new life forms or new thoughts might be found useful.
To make new ideas work needs a venue wherein they can be tested, but since most will be failures in most situations it becomes critical to be able to locate situations where the new idea will function; and to be able to quickly identify those situations where it clearly will not function at all. To find a special sweet spot in which it will work better than any other thing will be the ideal to aim for, because then it will be easier to build upon that working thing and find some other applications nearby which may be even more useful with just a tiny modification.
Finding alternate uses for something which is already functioning in one venue may be the easiest way to progress in most cases. Entirely new ideas, like entirely new life forms, will require a supporting environment which may have to be entirely new itself. When there are too many things which must be just right, and each of them is unusual, then it becomes nearly impossible for everything to click together at the same time and work at all. Finding something which functions marginally well in one environment, shifting it to alternate ones and then simply observing what happens may be quicker and more productive. This shotgun method is especially effective if the input and tests can be done with very little investment of time, energy or thought and with little risk if they fail. This is a variation on the Black Swan idea of always avoiding deadly risks and always seeking out unusual situations with a potential big payoff but little risk.
To accomplish these things, a person needs to cultivate the habit of stepping forward into unknown risks when there is no danger, but a potential payoff, and to develop the habit of avoiding situations where there is any possibility of real risk. There is generally no risk for exploring new ideas, or only the risk of wasting one’s time. Of course, time and attention are all we have so long as we live, but exploring the sprinkling of new and wildly disparate ideas can be entertaining in itself.
Create wild ideas but test them against some mental construct too.