“Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up” -Oliver Wendell Holmes
Five tips for superior creative collaboration - continued from the December 2005 Museletter:
6. Look for the positive in other people's ideas:
If you want to promote the flow of ideas in the team, look for the positive aspects of other people's ideas. Even if you don't get anywhere with an idea at first, ask yourself: 'What's in it that we can use?' There will always be some aspect you can build on. Replace your inner CRITIC with an inner CREATIVE and exploit all the possibilities from this new perspective. You can learn to think 'what if ?' and this will develop in time into an inner attitude which will open doors to new ideas instead of closing them.
7. Make mistakes and have fun doing it:
Before he made a light bulb that worked, Edison discovered more than 1600 ways how not to make a light bulb. Mistakes are a basic learning principle, accompanying all great discoveries and often leading to brilliant ideas. Get rid of the compulsion to come up with nothing but good ideas that are ready to use! People who think they should only speak up at a meeting when they have the one true correct answer are putting themselves under enormous pressure and smothering all creativity in the bud. So make mistakes and enjoy it!
8. Wait before evaluating ideas:
When you leave a successful meeting with a few really good ideas and a feeling of euphoria, wait a while before assessing the ideas. Step back a little and don't fall too much in love with the first, seemingly irresistible ideas. Show your first ideas to other people, so that you can read from the feedback whether you've hit the bull's eye or if you are the only one who understands it.
9. Select ideas creatively:
Sometimes the really interesting ideas are simply eliminated or talked out during the evaluation phase. Anything unusual, wild, uncomfortable, or harder to translate into action, gets dropped. At this stage, you need to make new ideas from old, in order to save potentially great initiatives. There are already more than enough old, familiar ideas that have simply been rehashed. Remember: as a rule, people tend to prefer what they know, because anything really new strikes them as too risky. Ask yourself this question: how can the basic ideas best be combined, either to optimize them or obtain an entirely new idea? You're now entering a sort of second creative phase.
10. Turning ideas into action:
The path to mediocrity begins by treating tender shoots as if they were already full-blown ideas. Leaving isolated strokes of genius out of the calculation, only hard work can turn good ideas into great ones. What this means is scrutinizing, reworking, rejecting, improving, adjusting, scrutinizing again, and finally reworking yet again.
Creative Advertising – Ideas and techniques from the world's best campaigns
Where is Creativity?
“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” -Albert Einstein
The answer is obvious: Creativity is some sort of mental activity, an insight that occurs inside the heads of some special people. But this short assumption is misleading. If by creativity we mean an idea or action that is new and valuable, then we cannot simply accept a person's own account as the criterion for its existence. There is no way to know whether a thought is new except with reference to some standards, and there is no way to tell whether it is valuable until it passes social evaluation. Therefore, creativity does not happen inside people's heads, but in the interaction between a person's thoughts and a sociocultural context. It is a systemic rather than an individual phenomenon.
Some years ago the scientific world was abuzz with the news that two chemists had achieved cold fusion in the laboratory. If true, this meant that something very similar to the perpetual motion machine - one of the oldest dreams of mankind - was about to be realized. After a few frenetic months it became increasingly clear that the experiments on which the claims were based had been flawed. So the researchers who at first were hailed as the greatest creative scientists of the century became somewhat of an embarrassment to the scholarly establishment. Yet, as far as we know, they firmly believed that they were right and that their reputations had been ruined by jealous colleagues.
Who is right? The individual who believes in his or her own creativity, or the social milieu that denies it? If we take sides with the individual, then creativity becomes a subjective phenomenon. All it takes to be creative, then, is an inner assurance that what I think or do is new and valuable. There is nothing wrong with defining creativity this way, as long as we realize that this is not at all what the term originally was supposed to mean - namely, to bring into existence something genuinely new that is valued enough to be added to the culture. On the other hand, if we decide that social confirmation is necessary for something to be called creative, the definition must encompass more than the individual. What counts then is whether the inner certitude is validated by the appropriate experts-such as other scientists in the case of cold fusion. And it isn't possible to take a middle ground and say that sometimes the inner conviction is enough, while in other cases we need external confirmation. Such a compromise leaves a huge loophole, and trying to agree on whether something is creative or not becomes impossible.
Creativity with a capital C, the kind that changes some aspect of the culture, is never only in the mind of a person. That would by definition not be a case of cultural creativity. To have any effect, the idea must be couched in terms that are understandable to others, it must pass muster with the experts in the field, and finally it must be included in the cultural domain to which it belongs. So the first question I ask of creativity is not what is it but where is it?
The answer that makes the most sense is that creativity can be observed only on the interrelations of a system made up of three main parts: The first of these is the domain, which consists of symbolic rules and procedures. Domains are in turn nested in what we usually call culture, or the symbolic knowledge shared by a particular society, or by humanity as a whole.
The second component of creativity is the field, which includes all the individuals who act as gatekeepers to the domain. It is their job to decide whether a new idea or product should be included in the domain. In the visual arts the field consists of art teachers, curators of museums, collectors of art, critics, and administrators of foundations and government agencies that deal with culture. It is this field that selects what new works of art deserve to be recognized, preserved, and remembered.
Finally, the third component of the creative system is the individual person. Creativity occurs when a person, using the symbols of a given domain, such as music, engineering, business, or mathematics, has a new idea or sees a new pattern, and when this novelty is selected by the appropriate field for inclusion into the relevant domain.
So the definition that follows from this perspective is: Creativity is any act, idea, or product that changes all existing domain, or that transforms all existing domain into a new one. And the definition of a creative person is: someone whose thoughts or actions change a domain, or establish a new domain. It is important to remember, however, that a domain cannot be changed without the explicit or implicit consent of a field responsible for it.
Several consequences follow from this way of looking at things. For instance, we don't need to assume that the creative person is necessarily different from anyone else. In other words, a personal trait of “creativity” is not what determines whether a person will be creative. What counts is whether the novelty he or she produces is accepted for inclusion in the domain.
Perhaps the most important implication of this is that the level of creativity in a given place at a given time does not depend only on the amount of individual creativity. It depends just as much on how well suited the respective domains and fields are to the recognition and diffusion of novel ideas. This can make a great deal of practical difference to efforts for enhancing creativity. Today many American corporations spend a great deal of money and time trying to increase the originality of their employees, hoping thereby to get a competitive edge in the marketplace. But such programs make no difference unless management also learns to recognize the valuable ideas among the many novel ones, and then finds ways of implementing them.
For instance, Robert Galvin at Motorola is justly concerned about the fact that in order to survive among the hungry Pacific Rim electronic manufacturers, his company must make creativity an intentional part of its productive process. He is also right in perceiving that to do so he first has to encourage the thousands of engineers working for the company to generate as many novel ideas as possible.
So various forms of brainstorming are instituted, where employees free-associate. But the next steps are less clear. How does the field (in this case management) choose among the multitude of new ideas the ones worth pursuing? And how can the chosen ideas be included in the domain (in this case the production schedule of Motorola)? Because we are used to thinking that creativity begins and ends with the person, it is easy to miss the fact that the greatest spur to it may come from changes outside the individual.
Creativity – Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention
“If you had a million Shakespeares, could they write like a monkey?” -Stephen Wright
Sparks of creativity often flow from new knowledge. Frequently it's information about things that are completely new to you. Sometimes, it's new facts about familiar things. And sometimes it's information about things that you didn't know you didn't know. This last category, usually filled with items that are silly and fanciful, can provide a platform for your imagination to jump from.
So here I present...
So here I present the: "Things you didn't know you didn't know" section.
(or the alternately titled: "Trivia to win bar bets" section).
Why Don't People Get Goosebumps on Their Faces?
Be proud of the fact that you don't get goosebumps on your face. It's one of the few things that separate you from chimpanzees.
We get goosebumps only on parts of our bodies that have hair. The purpose of body hair is to protect us from the cold, but when our hair doesn't provide enough insulation, the small muscles at the bottom of each hair tighten, so that the hair stands up.
In animals covered with fur, the risen strands form a protective nest of hairs. Cold air is trapped in the hair instead of bouncing against delicate skin. The hair thus insulates the animals against the cold.
Although humans have lost most of their body hair, the same muscular contractions occur to defend against the cold. Instead of a mat of hair, all we have to face the elements are a few wispy tufts and a multitude of mounds of skin, which used to support an erect hair and now must go it alone. When a male lion gets “goosebumps," his erect hair makes him ferocious; our goosebumps only make us look vulnerable.
Why Do Clocks Run Clockwise and other Imponderables - David Feldman