What seems to be a setback, error or limitation, may often be valuable for encouraging more creative thinking and innovation.
Valerie Young writes about two “mistakes” that resulted in very successful products:
“Did you know, for example, that Post-It-Notes were the result of what 3M Company researchers at first thought to be a bad batch of glue?
There are many ideas about being creative: You have to wait for a flash of inspiration; You need to be a “genius”; Artists are crazy (or at least flaky); You should be in pain to create, and many other myths which often get in the way of personal creative work, and business innovation.
In his book “The Myths of Creativity” David Burkus, writes about one of the most enduring myths: that creative inspiration comes from an outside source or entity:
“The ancient Greeks told and retold stories of gods, supernatural creatures, and regular mortals as a way to explain how they thought the world worked…They created the muses, who received and answered the prayers of ancient writers, musicians, and even engineers.
“The muses were the bearers of creativity’s divine spark. They were the source of inspiration. Even thinkers as great as Plato believed that poets drew all of their creativity from the muses, so that any works by the poets were really considered works of the muses.”
Writers J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and others discussed religious and literary ideas and their own works in progress in a famed discussion group, the Inklings, which met regularly at Lewis’ college rooms at Oxford or in pubs, in the 1930s and 40s.
Of course, writers groups, support groups based on Julia Cameron’s classic book The Artist’s Way, and similar gatherings still enable creative collaboration and feedback from others.
Psychologist Paul Paulus has researched the value of group ‘brainwriting’ in which “group members write their ideas on paper and pass them to others in the group who then add their own ideas to the list,” as writer Amy Novotney summarizes.
She adds that in a study led by Paulus, “an interactive group of brainwriters produced 28 percent more possible uses for a paper clip than a similar group of solitary brainwriters. This may be because group members tend to build off one another’s ideas, leading to increased creativity and innovation. The effects of group brainwriting may even extend to groups that collaborate via e-mail, Paulus notes.”
Articles and other resources for helping you gain new perspectives and be more creative: ideas for enhancing creativity and innovation.
Continued from How To Be More Creative.
Synopsis: 8 Imagination Boosters I got from SCOPE New York 2013
WHAT’S TRULY WONDERFUL about so much of today’s visual Art is that it engages every sense, not just what you see (or think you see).
Next time you’re caught in a creative dry spell, spend a while wandering through a Contemporary Art show and have a universe of new ideas rain down on your parched psyche.
This series of posts on “How To Be More Creative” offers articles, books and other resources on developing creative thinking and innovation, and enhancing our creative expression.
My other Creative Mind posts, hopefully, do that as well – but these new posts specifically provide brief excerpts of selected material by other authors that have a more “how to” flavor. Feel free to make any comments or suggestions.
by Gregory Ciotti
“Have you ever wished you were more creative? If you do creative work, have you ever suffered from a creative block and been stuck wondering what exactly is wrong, and how you can get yourself out of it?”
These four P’s of Product, People, Process and environmental Press have been used as frameworks by many creativity researchers and writers.
In a helpful overview article, Sandeep Gautam provides explanations of these concepts, and references to various creativity experts. Here are a few excerpts.
First, to start with the illustration: “Blind monks examining an elephant”, an ukiyo-e print by Hanabusa Itchō (1652–1724).
The story that inspired this artwork is basically that “a group of blind men (or men in the dark) touch an elephant to learn what it is like. Each one feels a different part, but only one part, such as the side or the tusk. They then compare notes and learn that they are in complete disagreement.” [Wikipedia]
Gautam concludes his article:
“In the end, it is important to realize that creativity is all things to all people, but still needs desperately, and would benefit from immensely, an integrative research paradigm; otherwise like the proverbial blind men and the elephant, we may end up getting narrow and useless conceptions of creativity and ignore the big elephant in the room.”
Creative problem solving is enhanced by thinking more abstractly or at an intellectual distance, rather than more concretely, according to research studies.
In my post Using Research to Enhance Creative Thinking – Part 2, I quoted from the article “15 Scientific Facts About Creativity” which notes that “psychological distance” facilitates creativity, and “when hitting a creative snag, the best thing thinkers can do for themselves is step away and try to look at everything from a completely different point of view.”
Evan Polman of New York University and Kyle Emich of Cornell University devised four studies on this creative strategy, with results published in their paper: “Decisions for others are more creative than decisions for the self” [Abstract].
One of the ways that art students learn to paint is to copy the work of a master.
Of course, there are many more complex and abstract design, creativity and innovation challenges than traditional portraiture.
The Human-Computer Interaction Group at Stanford trains people in designing interactive systems.
In a research study they conducted, subjects drew animals to inhabit an alien Earth-like planet and were presented with example drawings at different stages in the experiment.
The results indicated that “Early exposure to examples improves creativity (measured by the number of common and novel features in drawings, and subjective ratings by independent raters).
How can parents, educators and business leaders support people to become more creative, innovative and entrepreneurial?
“Innovation-minded parents encouraged their children’s play, passion and purpose.”
Tony Wagner is currently the first Innovation Education Fellow at the Technology & Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard and the founder and former co-director of the Change Leadership Group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
The quote above is paraphrased from his article My View: Creating innovators, in which he notes that many people believe that “America’s economic future depends on more students taking courses in science, technology, engineering and math.”
“However,” he adds, “it is clear to me that the more important goal is for all students to graduate from high school or college ‘innovation-ready,’ and merely requiring students to take more of the same kinds of classes will not be adequate preparation.”
“People often avoid the uncomfortable uncertainty of novel solutions regardless of potential benefit.”
That quote comes from the Forbes magazine article Managing The Psychological Bias Against Creativity by Todd Essig, who notes the situation where “You come up with a great new idea at work, or at home.
“Or a political leader actually tries something ‘new and different’ when faced with a previously intractable problem. But then, rather than grateful acceptance, or even a fair hearing, the idea is squashed, ridiculed, or otherwise ignored.”
New research, he says, “empirically documents how our resistance to uncertainty makes the ‘old ways’ far stickier than they should be given the practical benefits of creative, new solutions.
“Once again, the biases built into our minds leave us simultaneously moving in opposite directions; we like creativity but avoid creative ideas because creative ideas are too, in a word, creative.”