Sunday, March 30, 2014

Techniques of creative thinking

 Creativity is ‘having the power to create’ or ‘doing things differently.’ Creativity is an ability to generate new ideas or concepts that are both innovative and functional.  Generally creativity is viewed as a special mental power to solve difficult problems (process) and generate spectacular ideas (products). The process of creativity often leads to the creation of products that are novel and valuable. Creativity demands imagination, ability to improvise, the courage to combine known factor or thing to create something new. Creativity is the key for achieving a better standard of living.  Creativity will make and keep one’s life interesting. Creativity can be developed through training (education) and application. Creativity requires 6- interrelated resources such as intellectual abilities, knowledge, styles of thinking, personality, motivation and environment. Creativity shows a set of human characteristics like ‘inventiveness,’ ‘innovativeness,’  ‘productive thinking,’ ‘an act of discovery,’ ‘newness,’ ‘novelty,’ and ‘originality.’  Creativity resembles thinking –out-of-box or reaching over the moon. Tony Buzan said that creativity is as essential to your survival as breathing. Berk (2002) defined creativity as the ability to produce work that is original, but still appropriate and useful. The source of creativity is both intrapersonal (cognition, personality) and social factors that support creativity.

“More creativity is the only way to make tomorrow better than today.” – Anon.


Richards (1985) defined creativity as ‘the personal discovery process, partially unconscious, which leads to new and relevant insights.’Creativity is the ability to generate new ideas by combining, changing or reapplying existing ideas. Creativity is possible in all areas of human activity including  the arts, sciences, at work, at play and in all other areas of daily life. Creativity is the process of sensing problems or gaps in information, forming ideas or hypotheses, testing and modifying this hypothesis, and communicating results.

Types of creativity (Boden,1998)

The combinational creativity involves new combinations of familiar ideas.
The exploratory creativity involves the generation of new ideas by the exploration of structured concepts.
The transformational creativity involves the transformation of some dimension of the structure so that a new structure can be created.
Creativity may be two types such as cognitive and artistic creativity. Artistic creativity consists in the creation of artwork and expressing one’s ideas and emotions through various forms of art. Cognitive creativity is a matter of coming up with solutions to a practical or theoretical problem. The examples include creating a new scientific theory or launching a innovative product.

Forms of creative discoveries

Koshland (2007), the former editor of Science, categorizes three forms of creative discoveries: charge, challenge and chance discoveries. Charge discoveries solve problems that are quite obvious. Charge discoveries occur when someone “sees what everyone else has seen, and thinks what no one else has thought e.g. Einstein’s theory of relativity. Challenge discoveries occur from the accumulation of facts or concepts and the discoverer perceives a new concept or theory that pulls these together onto one coherent whole e.g. Darwin’s theory of evolution. Chance discoveries occur when people have what Louis Pasteur called ‘the prepared mind’ e.g. discovery of penicillin and x-rays.

Origin of creativity (Jane Henry 1991)

Grace – creativity comes through divine inspiration.
Accident – creativity arises by serendipitous good fortune.
Association – creativity occurs through the application of procedures from one area to another.
Cognitive – creativity relies on normal cognitive processes such as recognition, reasoning and understanding.
Personality – creativity is something that we are born with.

Factors contributing to creativity

A gift for associating thoughts and feelings in unusual combinations;
An attitude of playfulness, openness and flexibility;
Knowledge of how the creative process works;
Skill in using the tools of the trade;
Persistent effort to keep trying until the result is satisfactory; and
A favorable setting in which creativity can find free expression.

Creative attitude

Domain –relevant skills – includes talents and competencies that are valuable for working in the domain. An example of Michelangelo’s skills in shaping stone, developed when he lived with a stone cutter’s family in the childhood.
Creativity –relevant processes – includes work habits and personality traits such as John Irving’s habit of working 10-hours to write and rewrite and rewrite until he perfected his stories.
Intrinsic task motivation or a deep curiosity and fascination with the task – this aspect of creativity can be greatly influenced by the social environment by supporting autonomy, stimulating curiosity, encouraging fantasy and providing challenge.

Qualities of creative people

  1. General intelligence – powers of analyzing, synthesizing and valuing; ability to store and recall information.
  2. Highly self motivated – a high degree of autonomy, self sufficiency and self-direction.
  3. Negative capability – the ability to hold many ideas often contradictory.
  4. Curiosity – sustained curiosity and keen powers of observation and good listening skills.
  5. Independence of mind – marked independence in making judgments.
  6. Ambiversion – ambivert in character (intro/extrovert combination)
  7. Wide interests – a broad range of interests especially the ones with creative dimension.

Intellectual characteristics of creative people

Fluency – is the ability to generate a large number of different ideas rapidly.
Originality – is the ability of generating unusual answers to questions, responses to situation and interpretation of events.
Flexibility – is the ability to move from on frame of reference and one method of approach to another.
Tolerance of ambiguity – is the ability to live, perform and be comfortable with unclear situations, unfamiliar methods and unusual resources.
Playfulness and humour are hallmarks of the highly creative people.

Technique for generating more ideas (fluency)

Bob Eberle (1971) developed the acronym SCAMPER for generating more ideas. Each letter represents a key word that stimulates the production of ideas.
S – substitute; C – combine; A – adapt; M – modify, magnify, minify; P – put to other uses; E – eliminate; R – reverse, rearrange.

Personality characteristics of creative people

Strong work motivation – they are positive, enthusiastic and optimistic about the work/ problem undertaken.
Independence and autonomy – they are strongly self-disciplined , independent and self-assertive in solving new and unfamiliar problems.
Nonconformity both intellectually and personally is the central characteristic of highly creative people.
High energy – they have greater motivation to work on several projects at once.

Stages in the Creativity  process (Claxton, 1999)

There are 4 steps in any creative process: preparation, incubation, illumination and verification.
Preparation – it includes information gathering, talking to people about aspects problem, experimentation and doodling. Louis Pasteur said that chance only favors the prepared mind.
Incubation – it appears to be gestation period in which the process goes on subconsciously and takes a different shape.
Illumination – it is the sudden flash of understanding in which the solution appears in the mind.
Verification - the idea created must pass the tests of validity, reality, utility, reliability, cost, time and acceptance in market.

Methods of  creative thinking 

Analogies - creative people use resemblance in form or function of viewing essentially two different things.
Modelling - model is a primary type of anything (prototype), a pattern, a standard and an example. An individual can translate his experience into a model of the world is through action. Modelling can be used for the identification of a problem.
Reframing – changing the frame in which a person perceives events in order to change the meaning. Reframing is ‘thinking about things differently’ or see a new point of view o to take other factors into consideration. It can be content reframing or context reframing.
Lateral thinking – tries to restructure the pattern by putting its parts together in different ways. It explores multiple possibilities and approaches instead of pursuing a single approach.  It is divergent thinking.
Critical thinking - encompasses a variety of cognitive skills such as analysing, synthesizing, applying and evaluating information. Both critical and creative thinking are complementary. In productive problem solving, one can creatively generate ideas and critically evaluate ideas. The combination of critical and creative thinking is considered ‘Good thinking.’ 
Synectics – is a technique that uses analogies and metaphors in a systematic way to change the frame of reference in which the problem is perceived.
Forced associations – a number of techniques build upon the idea of the association of unlikely elements.
Random associations – the associative capabilities of the human mind are so great that bringing two randomly selected elements together, most people make sense of them.
Matrices –a two-dimensional or three-dimensional matrix using problem and solution attributes as its headings is a convenient tool for examining each intersections of column and rows one at a time.

Characteristics of creative thinking

 Creative people have the ability to make remote associations between ideas with divergent thinking. They are flexible in their thinking and switching back and forth between conventional and unconventional ideation to generate original novel ideas that appropriate to the task at hand. Creative people are very flexible in jumping from idea to idea. They are willing to take risks.
Creative thinking is associative thinking. Creative thinking requires divergent thinking before convergent thinking.Creative thinking is thinking outside the (negative thinking) box. Creative thinking is an active version of wishful thinking.Creativity can be improved through training.
The positive benefits of creativity include self-directed learning, self-expression, personal integrity, personal growth and well-being. Creative thinking provides a sense of control over the external world.
         "On your creative journey, you travel through the hearts of your audience."

Key facts of neuroscience research on the act of creation

1. Instinct plays a leading role in complex decision making.
2. Eighty percent of our grey matter is dedicated to unconscious thought.
3. Imaginative play is one of the most direct means of activating our creativity and problem solving abilities.

Quotes on creativity

"Creativity is thinking up new things.Innovation is doing new things." -Theodore Levitt.

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.Art is knowing which ones to keep."
 -Scott Adams.

"Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules
 and having fun." -Mary Lou Cook.

"Creativity is the sudden cessation of stupidity." -Edwin Land.

“Creativity is contagious, pass it on.”-Albert Einstein.

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.”- Albert Einstein.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” -Albert Einstein.

“Play is the highest form of research.”-Albert Einstein.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting and engaging post. Each point you mentioned is noteworthy. thanks for sharing. I enjoyed reading your post.