THOUGHTS ON CREATIVITY
1. In addition to being somewhat misunderstood, creativity is almost
always somewhat underdeveloped in individuals. Why is this so? In
American & Western European cultures, intelligence is a highly
prized attribute. We honor & seek it. Much of our educational
system fosters it. Psychologists & other behavioral scientists have
being studying intelligence for more than 100 years. Creativity took
a back seat to intelligence as a cultural icon during most of the 20th
century. In sum, many of us do not know what creativity is, how
creative we are, or how to act or think creatively. Perhaps more
importantly, we have not been trained to be creative.
2. Beyond this, it is important to recognize that creativity is an
individual difference just like height, visual acuity, or swimming
ability. Some of us will be more creative than others.
3. Innovation may be more important for business managers than
creativity itself. The manager is responsible for fostering a creative
work climate and bringing creative ideas to the deliverable stage.
Although there may be many novel ideas running about an
organization, it is the technical people who deliver product or service.
In the end, ideation – creative thought – must be married to basic
good management practices. Some of these modern practices –
bullpens & cross-functional teams – were developed with innovation
4. Creativity & innovation are probably more of a competitive
advantage today than 50 years ago. Business training & education
have become somewhat homogenized in the past three decades. As a
result, people are entering the business world with the same
knowledge & the same ideas. Thus, it is new ideas that often trump
traditional management practices. The analogy would be novel game
plans in football that catch the opposition “off guard” and force the
other team to play catch-up.
5. Taken to the extreme, creativity can produce a "paradigm shift". That
is, the past becomes almost irrelevant when the shift occurs. Once
someone enters the environment with a product or service that shifts
the paradigm, the competition is overwhelmed. Simply put, they're
completely unprepared to compete on the new playing field.
6. Finally, from a strategic point of view, creative approaches can, at
times, trump traditional market research and related business
practices. Studying consumer behavior, assessing their preferences,
and understanding "markets" are critical to business. However, what
if the public does not know what it wants? Case studies of striking
changes in market share often demonstrate that the difference was a
person's vision, not business research.
7. When do you know you have creativity & innovation? When it is
simple, elegant, and has great utility. Also, you often hear other
people say, "Damn, why didn't I think of that?"
8. Creativity & Innovation in a Business Setting
Word Hints to Creativity
OBJECT: Find a fourth word that is related to all three words listed below.
For example, what word is related to these?
cookies sixteen heart __________________
The answer is “sweet.” Cookies are sweet; sweet is part of the word
“sweetheart” and part of the phrase “sweet sixteen.”
What word is related to these words?
poke so molasses ____________________
Now try these words:
1. surprise line birthday __________________________
2. base snow dance __________________________
3. rat blue cottage __________________________
4. nap rig call __________________________
5. golf foot country __________________________
6. house weary ape __________________________
7. tiger plate news __________________________
8. painting bowl nail __________________________
9. proof sea priest __________________________
10. maple beet loaf __________________________
11. oak show plan __________________________
12. light village golf __________________________
13. merry out up __________________________
14. red star house __________________________
CONNECTING LINES PROBLEM
Draw four straight lines that pass through each dot below. Do not retrace your line and do
not lift your pencils/ pen from the sheet once you begin.
THINGS TO DO WITH IT
List as many uses as possible for a brick.
Cannibals captured a missionary in darkest Africa and were about to boil him alive when the
chief of the tribe came to him and said, “My beautiful daughter loves you. Agree to marry her
and we will spare you.” The missionary refused, and was boiled and eaten by the cannibals.
Give this story a title.
- A F ramework -
Creative Individual & Group
Lots of ideas
Lots of ideas quickly – brief incubation period
Lots of novel ideas
Open to new ideas
Thinking style non-linear – inductive, “right brained”, intuitive, rely
on insight, answers to problems may seem “strange” & initially
difficult to explain
Able to develop non-routine approaches to problems
Comfortable with ambiguity
Able to work alone
Will deliver product or service that is unexpected
Will develop creative skill
Some Other Possible Characteristics
Dress & speech
Political & social values
(Think about it as a matter of self-expression)
Some Potential Downsides (if we’re talking about creativity in the
extreme & a lack of self-awareness)
Develops non-routine solutions to routine problems
Appears not to conform
Could have problem “finishing” – not complete assignments
Creative people are artsy
Creative people are driven by an inner demon that cannot be satisfied
– Van Gogh
Creative people are overly emotional or not well adjusted or not
Manager Challenges & Opportunities
Easier to find “smart” people than creative people
Critical to identify and then match creative person to the task
More critical to manage the team environment & put together a task
oriented group with the potential for creative/innovative solutions
Behavioral flexibility is a two-edge sword. It makes it difficult to adhere to standard operational procedures,
tight job descriptions, or highly controlling supervision. Hence, the widespread belief that creative people
can be behavioral problems. This stereotype (wrong as it is) is common in the classroom & the workplace.
On the other hand, it is that behavioral flexibility that underwrites the novel approaches that lead to
THE PEBBLE DILEMMA
ASSUME YOU ARE THE YOUNG WOMEN IN THIS CASE. WHAT
WOULD YOU DO? BE ADVISED. EXPERTS SUGGEST THERE IS ONE
VERY GOOD, RATHER INNOVATIVE SOLUTION.
Many years ago, a small businessman found himself with a large debt to
a creditor. The creditor, rumored to have been associated with organized
crime, became adamant that repayment be made by a deadline that was
impossible for the businessman to meet. Business was not good, and the
businessman could not even keep up the interest payments, let alone the
loan principal. The creditor, however, had become attracted to the
businessman’s daughter, and in his conniving ways, decided he would rather
have the girl than the small, failing business. The daughter, however, was
repulsed by such a suggestion and resisted all his advances.
The creditor was a gambling man and always enjoyed the thrill of a contest.
He decided to propose a game to the businessman and his daughter that
would decide her fate and that of the business. He indicated that he would
put a white pebble and a black pebble into a bag and then have the young
woman pick out a pebble. If she chose the black pebble, she would become
his wife and the businessman’s debt would be considered paid in full. If she
chose the white pebble, she could stay with her father and the debt would
be cancelled. If she refused to participate in the game, the entire balance
would be made due by the end of the month.
Reluctantly, the businessman agreed to the creditor’s proposal. They met
on a pebble-strewn path in the local arboretum to conduct this game of
chance. As they chatted, the creditor stooped down, picked up two pebbles,
and put them into a bag. The young woman, sharp-eyed with fright, noticed
that the creditor had put two black pebbles in the bag. He held up the bag
and asked the young woman to select the pebble that would decide her fate
and that of her father’s business.
The issue of creativity is critical in the initial stages of the problem solving process. It is
essential to widen or broaden the perspective of the problem before focusing on specific
solutions. Re-defining problems is an excellent method for accomplishing this. It is a playful
application of “brainstorming” at the first step of our problem solving model.
Re-defining entails examining a problem from another’s perspective. This technique is most
helpful and appropriate when different parties view the problem from opposing vantage points.
The technique is similar to role reversal procedures used in marital counseling and conflict
Assume you are a homemaker, and your problem is stated below. Re-write the problem from
the perspective of the working spouse.
My spouse is a workaholic and doesn’t spend enough time with the kids or me.
Keys to Using
Re-write as many times as possible
Change subject & object of sentence
For sure, change the perspective of the concerned parties if there is an interpersonal
Do this over the course of days
Ask other people their viewpoints – get them to give you a statement that can be written
1. GENERATE AS MANY SOLUTIONS AS POSSIBLE.
2. DO NOT CRITIQUE OR EVALUATE ANY SOLUTION UNTIL ALL
ALTERNATIVES HAVE BEEN GENERATED.
3. TRY TO BE INNOVATIVE. COME UP WITH NOVEL IDEAS.
4. IF SOMEONE HAS A NOVEL IDEA AND YOU CAN ADD TO IT, DO THIS.
1. SOMEONE SHOULD BE APPOINTED SECRETARY. THIS PERSON TAKES
DOWN THE IDEAS FOR LATER DISCUSSION. THIS PERSON ALSO
CONTRIBUTES OWN IDEAS.
2. IF THE GROUP HAS NOT WORKED TOGETHER BEFORE; IT MAY HELP TO
USE A ROUND ROBIN APPROACH TO GIVE PEOPLE AIR TIME.
3. SOMEONE-PROBABLY THE SECRETARY-SHOULD ASK THE GROUP IF ALL
SOLUTIONS HAVE BEEN PUT ON THE TABLE. THIS USUALLY OCCURS AS
THE GROUP LOSES MOMENTUM AND NEW ALTERNATIVES ARE NOT
1. REVIEW SOLUTIONS ELIMINATING ONES THAT ARE UNREALISTIC. BE
MINDFUL NOT TO DROP ALTERNATIVES TOO QUICKLY. BE CREATIVE AT
THE IMPLEMENTATION ALSO!
2. DEVELOP A LIST OF ALTERNATIVES-TWO OR THREE-THAT SEEM
REASONABLE. USE THIS LIST AS A STARTING POINT FOR YOUR NEXT
THE WIDGET COMPANY CASE
YOU MANAGE THE SHIPPING DEPARTMENT FOR WIDGET
MANUFACTURING. WIDGET PRODUCES A COSTLY, DELICATE
CRYSTAL THAT IS USED AS A COMPONENT FOR MEDICAL LASERS.
THE CRYSTALS ARE PACKED SEPARATELY-ONE TO A BOX.
LAST MONTH YOUR DEPARTMENT BEGAN USING DAY OLD
NEWSPAPER TO WRAP THE CRYSTALS. THE NEWSPAPER IS AN IDEAL
INSULATOR AND PROTECTIVE COVERING FOR THE CRYSTALS. IN
ADDITION, WIDGET GETS THE DAY OLD NEWSPAPER FREE, A
SIGNIFICANT COST SAVING FOR WRAPPING & SHIPPING MATERIALS.
RECENTLY, YOU HAVE NOTED AN INCREASED TURN AROUND TIME
FROM PRODUCTION TO CUSTOMER, DUE LARGELY TO LONGER THAN
ACCEPTABLE LAGS IN SHIPPING. IT APPEARS YOUR WORKERS ARE
READING THE OLD NEWSPAPERS AND NOT PACKING CRYSTALS AS
RAPIDLY AS THEY ONCE DID.
YOU WILL HAVE TO DECREASE THE TIME ASSOCIATED WITH
PACKING IN ORDER TO RESOLVE THE PROBLEM. HOW WILL YOU DO
HOME SECURITY SYSTEMS
-USING METAPHORICAL THINKING-
Creativity can be enhanced through fantasy and imagination. Therefore, it comes as no
surprise that the use of metaphors will often aid groups searching for creative solutions to
A concrete example of metaphorical thinking is direct analogy. Here problem solvers
think about how others have resolved situations similar to the one they now confront.
Often the most productive approach is to examine solutions found in nature. For example,
wet leaves, which pack together snugly, suggested metaphorically how potato chips
might be packaged. The result was Pringles potato chips that are stacked and sold in a
can. (And, they don’t break!) The inventor of Velcro was inspired while removing burrs
from his dog’s fur. In both cases, the problem solver used metaphorical thinking: This is
This is your group’s problem: Design a home security system. Your group should use
this metaphor: Home security systems are like animals, fish, and plants. All living
things in nature must find ways of protecting themselves from predators and the
elements. What analogies can your group find and apply to the problem of home security
Assume you are in a romantic relationship or the manager of a sales team. You want to create a
climate that is healthy, effective, and rewarding for all concerned parties. Using metaphorical
technique, what insights can you develop that apply to each situation.
I WANT MY ROMANTIC A GOOD NOVEL AN EXCELLENT BOTTLE OF
RELATIONSHIP TO BE LIKE WINE
MY SALES TEAM IS LIKE A PACK OF WOLVES OR AN A WELL-COACHED
ORCA POD FOOTBALL TEAM
-BUILDING A VEHICLE-
A strict definition of morphology is: “the form of an organism considered as a whole.” As a
discipline, morphology is rooted in biology, and focused on how plants and animals are
structured. That is, the question of why plants and animals have certain characteristics is
Later, morphological thinking was picked-up by engineers & architects. The practice entails 1)
determining what features or characteristics a building/machine should have, 2) listing the
forms each characteristic should take, and 3) looking for creative combinations of these
DIVIDE THE SUBJECT INTO ITS DISTINCT CHARACTERISTICS
LIST ALL POSSIBLE FORMS OR MANIFESTATIONS OF THESE
BEGIN COMBINING THE VARIOUS FORMS, EXAMINE EACH COMBINATION
IN LIGHT OF THE ORIGINAL PURPOSE
Problem: Building a vehicle
Assume for a moment you must build a vehicle. Begin by defining what a vehicle is, and listing
the main attributes of a vehicle. For our purposes, a vehicle is a “vessel that travels from place
A to place B, can carry things or people, and is powered by a source.” From this, we derive
three main attributes or characteristics of vehicles:
VEHICLES HAVE A SOURCE OF POWER
VEHICLES HAVE A SHAPE
VEHICLES TRAVEL THROUGH OR ON A MEDIUM
Now, under each attribute, list all possible forms or manifestations. Next, combine the unique
levels of each attribute, examining the type of vehicle that results.
SOURCE OF POWER FORM MEDIUM
USE AT STEP 1 OF MODEL
RE-STATE THE PROBLEM FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF ANOTHER PARTY
HELPS CLARIFY PRESENT STATE & GOAL STATE IN TERMS OF DIFFERENT
USE AT STEP 1 OF MODEL
FLIP THE PROBLEM AROUND – OR INSIDE-OUT
HELPFUL FOR SITUATION WHERE REVERSING THE PROCESS OR REVERSING THE
SUBJECT MAKES SENSE, REMEMBER THE TOMATO PROBLEM DON’T LOOK AT THE
MACHINE, LOOK AT THE TOMATO
USE AT STEP 2 OF MODEL (PERHAPS STEP 1)
ASSUMES EFFECTIVE WORKING GROUP
GROUP DEVELOPS EXHAUSTIVE LIST OF SOLUTIONS AT STEP 2 BEFORE EVALUATING
ANY ONE SOLUTION
IMPORTANT TO SET GOALS OF CREATIVITY & QUANTITY OF SOLUTIONS
USE AT STEP 2 OF MODEL
A VARIANT OF BRAINSTORMING
CAN BE GROUP OR INDIVIDUAL TECHNIQUE
LOOK FOR A SITUATION THAT IS DIFFERENT BUT ANALAGOUS TO THE PROBLEM
FOR EXAMPLE, COMPARE A BUSINESS IN NEED OF REVENUES TO A HUNGRY
PREDATOR; IS THERE ANYTHING THAT PREDATORS DO THAT M IGHT GIVE
MANAGEMENT A HINT ABOUT HOW TO PURSUE NEEDED CASH
TECHNIQUE ENTAILS FLUENCY IN ONE DIMENSION FOLLOWED BY DEVELOPING
CONNECTIONS TO ANOTHER (PROBLEM) DIMENTION
HELPFUL WHEN SEARCHING FOR AN INSIGHTFUL WAY TO RE- EXAMINE YOUR PRESENT
SITUATION OR PROBLEM
USE AT STEP 2 OF MODEL
CAN BE GROUP OR INDIVIDUAL TECHNIQUE
DEVELOP LIST OF ALL COMPONENTS OR ELEMENTS ASSOCIATED WITH A SUBJECT;
NEXT LIST ALL POSSIBLE EXAMPLES FOR ALL ELEMENTS; NOW CONNECT EACH
EXAMPLE UNDER EACH ELEMENT TO ANOTHER EXAMPLE UNDER ANOTHER ELEMENT;
CONTINUE UNTIL DEVELOP LONG LIST OF NOVEL SOLUTIONS
FOR EXAMPLE, A DINNER HAS THESE ELEMENTS DRINKS, APPETIZER, ENTRÉE,
LOCATION, COMPANY, MUSIC, LIST OF ALL POSSIBILITIES UNDER EACH ELEMENT,
CONNECT EACH UNTIL FIND INTERESTING, NOVEL DINNER
HELPFUL WHEN TRYING TO “BUILD” SOMETHING SUCH AS AN EVENT, A PROGRAM, A
CAMPAIGN, OR A PHYSICAL STRUCTURE
MANAGING CREATIVE ORGANIZATIONS
Organization Culture & Creativity
Helps Creativity Hurts Creativity
A climate that tolerates risk taking A climate that values being
& making mistakes correct & avoiding public errors
Disregards tradition Emphasizes tradition
Values expertise & ideas Values seniority & status
Values conflict & effectively Values harmony
Minimizes policy & written rules Heavy on policy & written rules
Idea champions senior Low confidence
managers who recognize &
reward innovative thinking
Effective planning provide time Organizational crises
for creativity, the incubation factor environment or poor planning
forces quick problem solving &
Structure & Creativity
Cross functional teams matrix Rigid chain of command
organization, task forces
Decentralized structure & Centralized structure & authority
Loose job descriptions the 3M Tight job descriptions
Fluid, cross-functional Hierarchical communication
Customers as part of the