Category Archives: Creativity

What can you do for World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21?

Start an imagination practice.

George Land‘s 2011 TEDx talk came across my Facebook feed today. I will always remember the class he guest taught.

George asked us, undergrads at the International Center for Studies in Creativity, to practice using divergent thinking. Even though we already knew how – he took our capabilities far further.

“Write down 5 of your strengths,” he said, “then draw a line.” After we finished, he said, “Now do it again.” This exercise went on for an hour and 40 minutes. Five strengths and a line, five strengths and a line. It was grueling.

By the end of that class, I realized I had strengths that I never knew about – like having brown hair, or breathing, and being able to laugh and cry. My perceptions and appreciation of strengths forever changed that day.

In school we practiced using our imaginations on a regular basis; we’d learned techniques by which to stretch and then focus thinking to make something of it. When I saw George’s TEDx talk, I was reminded of that.

I was also reminded that not everyone has the same experience using their imaginations; many may uncomfortable or shy away from using their imaging capabilities. Think that might be you?

if so, what if you began an imagination practice for World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21 as George suggests at the end of his talk, to bring out your latent genius. Then, with practice, you can apply using your imagination on challenges to create new ideas, make new decisions, take new actions and achieve new outcomes.

Seriously, watch this video all the way through. George gives basics behind what we all need to be capable of to create the world of tomorrow and to align with and meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals – to use creativity in problem-solving to make the world a better place and to make our place in the world better too.

Spoiler alert: George is going to mention the accelerator and the brake. Watch out for that.

Want an imagination practice buddy? Why not? Take George’s advice at the end of this video, ask a friend to help generate other similar kinds of exercise and see what you accomplish. It’ll be good for your brain, good for your body, good for your future.

Creativity question: When are people most likely to express their creativity?

When are you most likely to express your creativity?  Wouldn’t that be a great question to ask/talk about/share over dinner during World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15 – 21?

Today’s find, The Science of Our Optimism Bias and the Life Cycle of Happiness, relates Tali Sharot’s research presented at 2012 TED.

“Optimism starts with what may be the most extraordinary of human talents: mental time travel. That is, the ability to move back and forth through time and space in one’s mind. To think positively about our prospects, it helps to be able to imagine ourselves in the future. Although most of us take this ability for granted, our capacity to envision a different time and place is critical for our survival. It allows us to plan ahead, to save food and resources for times of scarcity, and to endure hard work in anticipation of a future reward.

While mental time travel has clear survival advantages, conscious foresight came to humans at an enormous price — the understanding that somewhere in the future, death awaits. This knowledge that old age, sickness, the decline of mental power, and oblivion are somewhere around the corner, can be devastating.”

Here’s an idea – what if you viewed the Ted talk, and keeping sustainability in mind, wonder about how and when you think or feel people are most likely to express their creativity to make a difference?

See what you can come with, see what you can do.

Leaders can turn creativity into a competitive advantage, says IDEO’s Tim Brown

Imagine starting off a conversation at your next meeting during World Creativity and Innovation Week, April 15 – 21 with these statements from a Tim Brown, IDEO CEO Harvard Business Review article from November 2016.

“All of our management practices need to be updated: how organizations are structured, how we deploy capital, how we interact and collaborate with broader networks, what tools and technology we embrace and deploy, what we measure, what markets we target, who we hire and how we lead. Of these, how we lead and the kind of culture we create are the essential starting points.

When our goal is efficiency, our concept of governance includes ensuring standardization, high levels of coordination, careful assessment of risk, and, of course, the elimination of waste. When we want to be creatively fit, governance looks quite different. It should be, and feel, more nurturing. It should focus on speed of learning and rigorous experimentation. It benefits from an attitude of abundance.

Nurturing a creatively competitive organization requires curiosity above all else. Asking the right questions is more important (and more difficult) than having the right answers. One of my favorite Victorian entrepreneurs, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, asked the seemingly ridiculous question, “How can I create the experience of floating over the English countryside?” in his quest to building the first large scale, long-distance railway service in England.”

More at: https://hbr.org/2016/11/leaders-can-turn-creativity-into-a-competitive-advantage

See what you can do.

Creativity Crisis 2017

 

Dr. Kim’s 2017 research on the creativity crisis is presented as a think piece for you, to help prep for World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21.

Join me in spreading the creative spirit, knowledge about it,  opportunities for it, and ways to use it to help create a decent life for all on a sustainable planet. WCID2018.

New ideas, new decisions, new actions, new outcomes to make the world a better place and to make your place in the world better too.

Here’s the Research
The Creativity Crisis: It’s Getting Worse

Children are born to be creative, like eagles are born to soar, see the world, and find food, not scratch and fight for scraps in a coop. Instead of competing against each other on memorization tests, when children utilize their creativity to its full potential, creativity can contribute to healthy lives and future careers.

How High-Stakes Testing Has Caused Exam Hell in Asia

High-stakes testing has shaped the main Asian cultural values: 1) filial piety (e.g., to be a good son or daughter by achieving high scores), 2) social conformity (e.g., to think and act like others); and 3) social hierarchy (e.g., to obey the authority). High-stakes testing has made millions of young men focus on preparing for tests, instead of challenging the social hierarchy. It has resulted in exam hell, the excessive rote memorization, and private tutoring, starting in early childhood, to achieve high scores among students in Asia. This situation has fostered social conformity and structural inequalities. It has cost Asians their individuality and creativity.

How High-Stakes Testing Has Caused The Creativity Crisis in the U.S.

During the 1990s, American politicians, fearing the educational and economic success of Asia, began to focus on test-taking skills to emulate Asian success. Today, high-stakes testing costs American taxpayers tens of billions of dollars each year, but the real cost is much higher

Highly-selective university and graduate school admission procedures rely on high-stakes tests such as the ACT and the SAT. Testing companies and test-preparation companies have reaped enormous financial benefits and lobby Congres heavily for more testing. However, because students’ scores are highly correlated with both students’ family income and spending on test preparations, high-stakes testing has solidified structural inequalities and socioeconomic barriers for low-income families.

American Education Before and After the 1990s

Creativity is making something unique and useful and often produces innovation. Prior to the 1990s, American education cultivated, inspired, and encouraged. However, since the 1990s:

  • Losing curiosities and passions. Because of the incentives or sanctions on schools and teachers based on students’ test scores, schools have turned to rote lecturing to teach all tested material and spent time teaching specific test-taking skills. Students memorize information without opportunities for application. This approach stifles natural curiosities, the joy of learning, and exploring topics that might lead to their passions.
  • Narrowing visions. Making test scores as the measure of success fosters students’ competition and narrows their goals, such as getting rich, while decreasing their empathy and compassion for those in need. However, the greatest innovators in history were inspired by big visions such as changing the world. Their big visions helped their minds transcend the concrete constraints or limitations and recognize patterns or relationships among the unrelated.

Prior to the 1990s, many schools had high expectations and offered many challenges. However, since the 1990s:

  • Lowering expectations. Schools focus on students whose scores are just below passing score and ignore high-achieving students.
  • Avoiding risk-taking. High-stakes testing teaches students to avoid taking risks for fear of being wrong. The willingness to accept failure is essential for creativity.
  • Prior to the 1990s, educators sought to provide students with diverse experiences and views. However, since the 1990s:
  • Avoiding collaboration. Because teachers have been compelled to depend on rote lecturing, students have few opportunities for group work or discussions to learn and collaborate with others.
  • Narrowing minds. Schools have decreased or eliminated instruction time on non-tested subjects such as social studies, science, physical education, arts, and foreign languages. This contraction not only narrows students’ minds but gives them few opportunities for finding or expressing their individuality and cross-pollination across different subjects or fields. Low-income area schools, especially, have decreased time on non-tested subjects to spend more time on test preparations.

Prior to the 1990s, schools provided children with the freedom to think alone and differently. However, since the 1990s:

  • Losing imagination and deep thought. Test-centric education has reduced children’s playtime, which stifles imagination. With pressure to cover large amounts of tested material, teachers overfeed students with information, leaving students little time to think or explore concepts in depth.
  • Fostering conformity. American education has increasingly fostered conformity, clipping eagles’ wings of individuality (All schools preparing students for the same tests and all students taking the same tests). It has stifled uniqueness and originality in both educators and students. Wing-clipped eagles cannot do what they were born to do – fly; individuality-clipped children cannot do what they were born to do – fulfill their creative potential.
  • Fostering hierarchy. Students’ low scores are often due to structural inequalities, which start in early childhood (e.g., the number of words exposed to by age 3), affecting their later academic achievement. Yet, high-stakes testing has determined the deservingness and un-deservingness of passers or failers. The claim of “meritocracy” has disguised the structural inequalities by conditioning disadvantaged students to blame themselves for their lack of effort.
Results of The 2017 Creativity Crisis Study

In “The Creativity Crisis (2011)” I reported that American creativity declined from the 1990s to 2008. Since 2008, my research reveals that the Creativity Crisis has grown worse. In addition, the results also reveal that the youngest age groups (5 and 6-year-olds) suffered the greatest.

The significant declines in outbox thinking skills (fluid and original thinking) indicate that Americans generate not only fewer ideas or solutions to open-ended questions or challenges, but also fewer unusual or unique ideas than those in preceding decades (Figure 1).

The significant declines in new box thinking skills (elaboration and simplicity) indicate that Americans think less in depth, with less focus, and they think less critically and in more black-and-white terms than those in preceding decades (Figure 2).
The significant decline in open-mindedness (creative attitude) indicates that Americans are less open to new experiences and different people, ideas, and views than those in preceding decades (Figure 3).

The greatest declines in creativity among the youngest age groups suggest that the younger children are, the more they are harmed by American test-centric education.

Similarities between American high-stakes testing and Asian exam hell have appeared. Increasingly, fewer American innovators will emerge. The longer test-centric education continues, the fewer will remember or know that eagles can fly, and the more we will see creativity and innovation decline. America must not abandon its traditional way of raising eagles. Eagles that soar high will see the whole big world, and children who maximize their potential will become world’s greatest innovators. The world has improved from breakthroughs made by eagles, not by wing-clipped chicks.

Dr. Kim is Professor of Creativity and Innovation at the College of William & Mary (kkim@wm.edu or Tweet @Kreativity_Kim). https://www.ideatovalue.com/crea/khkim/2017/04/creativity-crisis-getting-worse/

Happy 40th Anniversary to Why Man Creates. Creativity Principles Learned.

Leading up to the 90th Academy Awards Ceremony is a great time to honour the 1968 winner of the documentary short subject – Why Man Creates.

4BF6C08C-EEF5-41ED-AA9F-C2BE7A88FBF1We watched Why Man Creates every semester when I was an undergraduate and graduate student at the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State College; from September 1977 through to December 1983.

Students and faculty at the Center quoted lines from the film because it was shown with such regularity, ‘I’m a bug, I’m a germ, I’m a bug, I’m a germ.  Ha – Louis Pasteur, I’m not a bug I’m not a germ.’

Creativity Principle: Look beyond the obvious

Every semester when our professor, Dr. Ruth Noller, showed it, I’d moan.

“I’ve seen it already,” I’d say.

“Then find something new in the film,” Ruth replied; like clockwork, every semester.

And so I did.  Ruth modeled an important principle you can use to fashion your WCID and WCIW celebrations. I learned to look beyond the obvious, to dig deeper, to see new things in the old – skills I use to this day.

Creativity Principle: Harsh immediate judgments are like a shot in the gut

One scene, in particular, stood out. An artist, who, in creating a sculpture, experiences an insight of grand proportions. He adds this new idea to his artwork and then, puts the sculpture on show.

We see a crowd gathered, commenting on this piece of art. Each utterance is a criticism. “It’s unAmerican.” I can’t say what I think because I’m from Nebraska, and you know what we are like.” “It will never fly Orville.”

We see the artist dressed like an American cowboy, receiving the comments as if each is a bullet. With each comment, he buckles over as if hit in the gut.

This scene profoundly moved me. Still does. Every time I hear an immediate ‘no’ to a new idea, it feels like a shot to the gut. From that I generalized this must be how others feel with rejection, immediate harsh criticism to their new thinking, that, in turn, discourages them from using their creative imagination and contributing new and different ideas, thinking, or potential solutions.

Wouldn’t it be great for people to inquire about new ideas rather than judge them harshly and critically upon first learning of them?  That’s one of my wishes for World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21, that the portal for considering new ideas opens wider to enable free use of imagination applied to create a decent life for all on a sustainable planet.

Prepare for World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21: An Invitation

I invite you to take a step back in history and to participate in the worldview of the times. Watch the 1968 film. Highlight your connections and insights in the comments section.

What principles emerge for you?

It’ll be interesting to see the meanings we make today.

Why Man Creates

Cheers!

Marci

Read Journal of Creative Behavior 50th Anniversary Issue for Free

Cory Wright sent this along:

Take rare privilege to read 50th Anniversary issue of oldest longest standing journal devoted to creativity research.

What a great way to get ready for World Creativity and Innovation Day April 21 this year, the first year the UN is celebrating it with you!

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jocb.2017.51.issue-4/issuetoc

Thanks Cory!

Creativity involves new connections, listening, that’s right

Would you agree that you are the product of a creative act?

For you to exist, two cells connected for the first time in a hospitable environment, and grew.

This World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21, make new connections.

Why?

Every person, idea, group, organization, challenge, or opportunity carries a similar cell be it an idea or a question that, when paired with another, can give birth to a new solution, product, service, approach to life.

Help give birth to the world we want by making new connections with issues related to sustainability, personally, professionally, and intentionally, to create a world we want, and a world future generations will appreciate and be grateful for.

WCID (April 21)  and WCIWeek (April 15-21) provide a hospitable environment in which new connections can be started, nurtured and grow.

Listen. 

“Listening to each other gives birth to an unborn child,” said Vijay Ayer, jazz musician, and MacArthur Fellow. ” Music is made of us listening to each other.”

Let’s connect, listen and make music World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21.