Visioning: The “Slow Bake”

Menno van Dijk
Article by: Menno van Dijk
Visioning: The “Slow Bake”

This is an abstract and adaptation from Originals by Adam Grant.


As it turns out, procrastination is a common habit of creative thinkers and great problem solvers. It is only when creative leaders begin thinking about the task at hand and deliberately procrastinate that they consider remote possibilities and generate new ideas. Delaying progress, then, enables them to spend more time considering different ways to accomplish this. Rather than “seizing and freezing” on one particular strategy, employ the strategy we call “the slow bake” – to keep the cake on a low fire for a long time until it is fully baked.


Imagine putting together an idea and putting it, almost as if literally, on the back burner of your mind. Picture yourself taking the time to work it through, restraining the urge to respond prematurely. The time you might require to reach those heights of originality, depends on the various thinking styles: are you conceptual or are you experimental? Conceptual innovators formulate a big idea and set out to execute it. Experimental innovators solve problems through trial and error, learning and evolving as they go along. They are at work on a particular problem, but they don’t have a specific solution at the outset.

slow bake
Experimental innovators solve problems through trial and error, learning and evolving as they go along. Click To Tweet

Conceptual innovation can be done quickly. As a result, conceptual innovators normally make their most important contributions to a discipline not long after their first exposure to it. The risk they face is to become captive of an important early achievement: they risk copying themselves.

Conversely, while experimental innovation can require years or decades to accumulate the requisite knowledge and skill, it becomes a more sustainable source of originality. The experimental approach takes longer, but proves more renewable: instead of reproducing our past ideas, experiments enable us to continue discovering new ones.

To sustain our originality as we accumulate expertise, our best bet is to adopt an experimental approach, based on relentless curiosity and constant tinkering.

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