What is Creativity?

March 20, 2017

Three questions about creativity for those ‘in and outside the tent’

My long-term creativity collaborator Susan Moger came up with three questions worth considering on behalf of those inside the tent (educationalists, practitioners, researchers, and so on) and those who might be attracted into the tent (educationalists, practitioners, researchers, and so on).

Here are Susan’s questions

What is creativity anyway?

Why should I care about it?

Why should I spend my time on it?

The tent metaphor is from a crude expression by President Lyndon Johnson.   [I don’t want to mis-attribute the quote]. Incidentally, LBJ also was reported as saying

“If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read: ‘President Can’t Swim.’”

What is creativity?

Returning to the three questions, I have been consistent in my view that each individual has to take a view on the first question, but may be informed by the conclusions reached by many who had studied creativity extensively. The consensus is that there is no clear consensus!

That is not quite as bad as it sounds, and is consistent with the view that truth is always viewed through the lens of personal beliefs. Plato said it with another metaphor about seeking reality by having to interpret shadows on the wall of the cave.

I explained in a lengthy video a few years ago, how you may still hold on to some constant core of belief, even if the precise way you define those beliefs may change with time and experience. If you had the luxury of an hour to space with a good supply of refreshments, you may find it interesting. I recall mostly it was painful, as I sustained an attack of cramp due to being perched on chair too high for me to reach the floor.

Why should I care about it?

Because if you care about anything, you become more alert to possibilities. Creativity, even before we agree about formal definitions, is ‘something about’ how we discover new and useful things – about ourselves and our world. The useful things include life-skills, what we do, and how we might do them better.

There is a case which can be made for creativity being spontaneous. Some ‘Creatives’ [ugh!] worry they may lose their creativity if they (or others) examine it too carefully. I prefer to believe that study helps move from implicit to explicit knowledge. This helps us discover more about how we are creative and how we sometimes fail to create through barriers which are often self-imposed

Why should I spend my time on it?

Partly my answer to question two applies. A further argument is contained in the ironic comment made by Gary Player the golfer, to the effect that the harder he practiced, the luckier he got.

Maybe there is something in the old saying that practice makes perfect. I prefer the point that the wrong sort of practice makes permanent. It takes a special kind of practice (creative practice, maybe?) that leads towards improvement.

Image

From a creativity session in Brazil, ca 2010

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Interested in Creativity?

March 7, 2017

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I am pleased to provide this information sent to me by Professor Kamel Mnisri, a long-time contributor and subscriber to Leaders We Deserve

As a participant in the first conference, I can recommend the mix of backgrounds of participants, the richness of contributions, and the excellent ‘fringe events’ due to the location of the conference [T.R., Editor LWD].

Please pass this information on to your own contacts.

ABOUT THE ARTEM OCC CONFERENCE:

With reference to the great success of the first Artem OCC in Nancy in 2015 we would like to announce the second edition of the Artem international conference on Organizational Creativity and Sustainability which will be held in Nancy, France, from 14 to 16th September 2017.

We intend to pursue the discussions initiated during the last edition, as well as exploring new paths. As such, our objective is to bring together scholars and professionals in areas such as engineering, arts and management to further examine and develop the topic of creativity and sustainability in its different dimensions.

Our intention is to approach the topic of creativity and sustainability from different disciplinary and thematic perspectives in theory and practice. We welcome disruptive approaches that challenge the mainstream perspective on organizational and social arrangements and the manner these can solve environmental, social, and economic problems.

THE ARTEM OCC 2017 CONFERENCE CHAIRS:

Conference co-chairs: Nuno GUIMARAES DA COSTA, Stefan HUESIG, Kamel MNISRI, Klaus-Peter SCHULZ and Paul SHRIVASTAVA.

Theme: “Facilitating sustainable development through a variety of creative approaches”.

Call for papers: click here to download it.

ORGANIZED BY THE ALLIANCE ARTEM RESEARCH:

Artem is an unprecedented transdisciplinary alliance between the Ecole nationale supérieure d’art et de design de NancyICN Business School and Mines Nancy.


A Happy Jar for joy, and a Stress Box for kicks

January 4, 2017

Wales rugby ball

An exchange of tweets this week resulted in a comparison between the merits of the happy jar and the stress box. I’m in favour of a matching set of two

It all started for me with a tweet about a happy jar. You write down any happy thought on a piece of paper and put it in a happy jar. This ‘idea about an idea’ worked for me. I could see its applications in education and home-life.

I later traced the idea via @janesanderow and tweets were exchanged. Mine started:

WGAI

In creativity sessions, the invitation to positive thinking is WGAI [What’s Good About It]. I have seen training walls and whiteboards plastered with WGAI Post its. Recently, there was a great example at the Creativity and Innovation Management meeting in Potsdam, where participants looked at the with future strategy for the journal, encouraged by their two new dynamic editors. See also my recent post about WGAI and a good idea

The Stress Box

But what about The Stress box? I don’t think I have posted anything, but the tweets about the happy jar just reminded me of an anti-stress trick used in sports management to counter unhelpful thoughts. At a stretch, it also connects with fast and slow thinking, controlling your monkey and such ideas.

I came across the idea first with the Welsh rugby player (and now International kicking coach) Neil Jenkins, who explained how he prepared for a kick, by imagining his bad thoughts and locking them away.

Today, Wales rugby has a new kicking hero in Dan Biggar. In matches, his mentor Neil Jenkins is often seen close by,as Dan goes through his kicking routine. It looks bizarre. It has become a national iconic image known as the Biggerama [You can look it up on Utube].

Both And, not Either Or

Which is why I argue the case for Both And, not for Either Or.

Subscribers to LWD, I rest my case.


Creative Leadership: From Manchester to Moscow in the new Trump era

November 21, 2016

Donad Trump

A scheduled lecture via Skype from Manchester to students in Moscow took place in the week of Donald Trump’s victory in the election campaign. Here are the lecturer’s notes of the lecture content

Professor Gershman developed the course ‘Managing Creativity and Innovation’ for the Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge (ISSEK) within the Higher School of Economics, Moscow.

ISSEK is a well-known research and analytical centre in Russia, specializing in science, technology and innovation studies. ISSEK is collaborating closely with the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research (Prof. Ian Miles is the head of ISSEK’s Laboratory of Economics of Innovation, Prof. Luke Georghiou is a member of ISSEK Advisory Board).

Monday 6 November 2016

Introductory remarks:What is creativity. Many theories.

My background: A scientist, chemist, studied worked in UK and New York

Creativity background:

The Creative act that had me fired for insolence. When ‘permission was not granted’.

Definitions are ‘contingent not universal‘.

Consensus has formed around creativity as a process generating new, relevant, useful outcomes.

Creativity and Policy:  Not my strong area: My research has been more at level of individual, team.

Educational policy in USA after ‘Sputnik’: the creative initiative 1957, Dawn of space age.

Guilford’s earlier speech to The American Psychological Association: Was said to have drawn attention to the potential in studies of creativity for educational advances (pedagogy). Torrance tests, also later sent into space with other artefacts

Education policy in Venezuala: via Minister of Education to stimulate creativity through De Bono’s models (lateral thinking) Information processing (Cognitive) model. Escape from fixation via contradictions, randomness, fantasy. His work supported by recent neurological studies.

Creativity theories: Support Kahnman’s biases in economic theory.

The technology hotspots model: Richard Florida’s controversial creative city model. Three factors of Talent, Technology, Tolerance, resulting in economic hot spots

Questions:

Creativity ‘past present and future’ [PowerPoint]

Psychological approaches to creativity in Heath service [PowerPoint]

Questions:


Creative Leadership: From Manchester to Moscow in the new Trump era

November 17, 2016

A scheduled lecture from Manchester to students in Moscow took place in the week of Donald Trump’s victory in the election campaign. Here’s the content of the Skype arrangement

With some trepidation, I accepted an invitation to address an international course on the topic of creativity from my home base in England. The inevitable teething troubles with technology were solved in a somewhat tense day prior to the first of two lecture sessions, which took place [Monday 6 November 2016] a few days before the conclusion of the American Presidential election.

Professor Gershman developed the course ‘Managing Creativity and Innovation’ for the Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge (ISSEK) within the Higher School of Economics, Moscow.

ISSEK is a well-known research and analytical centre in Russia, specializing in science, technology and innovation studies. ISSEK is collaborating closely with the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research  (Prof. Ian Miles is the head of ISSEK’s Laboratory of Economics of Innovation, and Prof. Luke Georghiou is a member of ISSEK Advisory Board).

Here are the outline notes I had propped up in front of me, and also visible to the students

Introductory Remarks

What is creativity: Many theories.

My background: A scientist, chemist, studied worked in UK and New York

The Creative act that had me fired for insolence

Definitions: ‘contingent not universal’.

Consensus around creativity as a process generating new, relevant, useful outcomes.

Policy and creativity:

Policy is not my strong area: My research more at level of individual, team

Educational policy in USA after ‘Sputnik’: the creative initiative 1957, Dawn of space age.

Guilford’s earlier speech to The American Psychological Association: Was said to have drawn attention to the potential in studies of creativity for educational advances (pedagogy)

Torrance tests, were later sent into space with other artefacts

Education policy in Venezuala: via Minister of Education to stimulate creativity through De Bono’s models (lateral thinking) Information processing (Cognitive) model. Escape from fixation via contradictions, randomness, fantasy. His work supported by recent neurological studies.

Creativity theories: support Kahnman’s biases in economic theory.

The technology hotspots model: Richard Florida’s controversial creative city model. Three factors of Talent, Technology, Tolerance, resulting in economic hot spots

The USA election: Say it may be worthwhile taking a look at the election for the next session, after the result is known.

Questions:

Creativity ‘past present and future’ [PowerPoint]

Psychological approaches to creativity in Heath service [PowerPoint]

Questions:

To be continued


A visit to Sheffield: City of Steel

October 4, 2016

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This week I visited Sheffield, a city that is busy re-inventing itself. As ever, it had some surprises for me. Starting with the brightly coloured elephants outside the rail station

Sheffield lies about forty miles to the east of where I live. Using public transport, it takes me roughly two hours to reach my destination, an indication of the pressure for a Northern transport system fit for the Northern Powerhouse.

The visit might never had happened. I filled in the date of the meeting on the page in my planner (old fashioned kind) as 3rd November not 3rd October. A blunder. Later in the day, I had a little guilty pleasure when I received a note from someone using a new-fangled electronic diary which had managed to invite participants for an event on 11th November which actually should have been for 11th October. Make what you will of that.

Sheffield, city of steel. Also of two fine Universities I am always pleased to visit. Today I was at a brand new-building on the Sheffield Hallam site. New enough for the DBA students to be sheep-dogged into the high-technology meeting room. I adjust to plasma screens on the walls, and the absence of flipcharts. Another fine old piece of communication hardware being consigned to the museum of pre-modern technology.

We discuss the foundations of leadership and management (not my title, and perhaps a little ambitious for a morning of contact time). Decide to start from the student’s interests, connecting them with my favourite foundation texts on leadership and creativity, (not exclusively my own), and management, (exclusively not my own).

Time left to explore the leadership lessons emerging from two current ‘living cases’, The EU Referendum in the UK, and the Presidential Campaign in the USA. What sense might be made of a system which results in two candidates each deeply unpopular not just with the general electorate, but within their own parties? Forget to mention the various posts here in LWD.

Declined what is always a pleasant lunch (get well soon, Murray, your contributions in session and as lunch host were missed). Instead, I tried the fare at the railway station, just past the last of those coloured elephants.

“Any onions in that toastie?” I asked

“Don’t know, love I don’t make them, I only sell them.” The motherly server replied.

On the train home I sat opposite a student studying a course manual on individual and organizational creativity. Discovered he had been learning the same sorts of things which we had been discussing, but on anuther course, elsewhere in the University.

Synchronicity or coincidence? Discuss.

Confusing the elephants

For reasons unknown, my images of elephants came out upside-down. Readers accept apologies if my favourite green one remains inverted while rescue work continues.


Wimbledon as a metaphor for English Culture: A creative look

June 30, 2016

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Wimbledon fortnight.  Any visitor to England would suspect tennis to be the national sport, perhaps equalled only by football. It may be more usefully seen as a metaphor for English popular culture

If the idea intrigues you, try this experiment before moving on. Take a blank sheet of paper. On the left, write down aspects of Wimbledon fortnight you think relate to its culture. Keep going until you have a full page. By the way, it works just as well, maybe better, if carried out by a team or social group.

You can see my efforts if you continue reading this post. I have ‘unfolded’ the experiment with several page breaks so that you can try things out for yourself before reading what I found.

Read the rest of this entry »