|Lecture: Creativity Process:||
Unlock Your Creative Genius with These Habits
|Posted: May 10, 2020; Updated: May 25, 2020|
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Editor's Note (Toru Nakagawa, May 10, 2020)
This article is taken from the YouTube video of Professor Keith Sawyer's talk, as indicated above. I was guided to Professor Sawyer's work through Dr. Ed Sickafus' USIT NewsLetters, and encountered the video as a result of interner surveys. Since the video has closed captions, I transcribed the speech into English text (as shown in this page) and further translated it into Japanese. Under the kind permission by Professor Sawyer, I am posting the lecture text both in English and in Japanese (I sent messages to the organizer, Future Frontiers, asking for their permission, but have not received any response. I guess they close their office after cancelling their event this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.) -- I found an access to Becy Anderson of FF through LinkedIn. And received her reply on May 21: "Hi Toru, thank you for reaching out. Apologies on the lack of response as the Future Frontiers project is on hold due to Covid. Please post it with Future Frontiers' blessing!" (May 25, 2020)
Professor Keith Sawyer is famous in cognitive psychology, writing books and papers on creativity and creative processes. The present talk for 13 minutes was given as a Seeds Talk at the Future Frontiers 2017 event. He talks in short and clear-cut sentences, along smooth and systematic logic, I admire.
"Creativity is not mysterious. You all can master it as habits and unlock your creativity genius." is the message of his talk. He attracted the audience to his talk without any slides. I managed to split his talk into paragraphs and have shown the first sentences of paragraphs in boldface. If you read the boldface sentences in this page, you will be able to follow the essence of his talk easily, I hope. He summarizes his talk at the end. This is a very well-prepared, excellent talk, I have found.
(Please refer to my short comment at the botom of this page: Editor's Note PS .)
|Concluding remarks||PS: Nakagawa's short comment||Video in YouTube|
Future Frontiers (2017) Seeds Talk
Unlock Your Creative Genius with These Habits
Keith Sawyer（Professor, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Dec. 14, 2017, Future Frontiers Seeds talk
Abstract: Future Frontiers
In his Future Frontiers Seeds talk, Keith Sawyer lays out the path to creativity. According to Sawyer, most creative ideas are not lightning strikes of brilliant inspiration, but the recombination of ideas that at once seemed far apart. Those working in creative fields will benefit from Sawyer's insights, which offer practical steps to coming up with better ideas, sometimes by accident.
Creativity is not mysterious. Creativity is not a rare idea that comes to you once in a lifetime and changes the world. It's just the opposite. Creativity is a way of life. Creativity is a process that consistently leads to creative outcomes. The creative process starts with an idea, but it's not a flash of insight. It's a small idea. But a small idea is not enough to change the world. The creative process involves many small ideas over time as you go through the process of creativity. And these small ideas you have every week. In fact you have them every day. You have them every hour. In the creative life these ideas come non-stop. You engage in habits, practices that consistently result in these small ideas.
Now psychological research helps us understand what's involved in having an idea. An idea is a combination of existing ideas. Combination of mental material that you already have in your mind. Its memories, its experiences, its concepts, and you combine these concepts and that's when you have an idea. But we know from creativity research that the biggest idea is the most creative ideas or ideas that combine very distant concepts. We call them distant combinations. And when you can bring together those very different concepts to create a distant combination, you're more likely to have a really good creative idea.
But most of us go through our days very focused. Focused on our problem. We're focused on our work. We have our disciplinary expertise. We have our college degrees. We're working in a particular place and organization. And most of that mental material that we have in our minds is very similar. Right? It's densely interconnected. It's part of the same conceptual network. So most of the ideas you have are combining very similar concepts and ideas.
So how do you have those distant combinations that are more likely to drive the creative process forward? Well, the key is to get a bunch of different things into your mind. You want to fill your mind with a very large variety of concepts and conceptual areas, memories and experiences. One of the best way to do that is simply to be aware. It's a kind of awareness as you go through every day. Look up . Look at the buildings around you. Look at what's on top of the buildings. Look down at the cracks in the sidewalk. Things that you normally don't notice. Creativity is a form of mindfulness. It's this type of awareness that brings new material into your mind that when you're focused you don't notice. The key is getting that mental material, that variety inside your mind.
Another really good way to fill your mind with a variety of information is to meet a lot of different people, to have conversations with people that you normally don't interact with. People who may be very different from you. People who you normally wouldn't meet. So exceptional creators engage in practices every day where they're more likely to encounter these different types of people. And that's another way you can bring this different conceptual material into you mind. So these small ideas that you have drive the creative process forward. Because they're bringing together those distant combinations. The core of the creative process is these small ideas. And you're having them every day, if you're really engaging in that creative life style. You're having these ideas so frequently. That's what drives the process forward.
But any one small idea isn't enough to change the world. Right? The process involves lots of ideas but no one idea is isolated. You can connect them together over time. And that's what drives the process forward.
One of the key aspects of this creative process is that it's not linear. The creative process is not linear. It's a wandering improvisational process. You can't predict where it's going to end when you start. You have to start, trusting that the process will end up getting you to a solution. It's a kind of zig-zagging process, right?, where a changes direction it's constantly moving forward but without your being able to know where it's going.
One of the best things about creativity is what we call problem finding and creativity research. Problem solving often involves creativity you come up with ideas that solve problems and that absolutely involve creativity. But most exceptional creativity comes from when you start the process and you don't know what the problem is yet. You haven't figured out how to ask the question or you maybe you have to reformulate the problem. The way you formulated the problem isn't the best way to solve the problem. You have to start the process thinking about some type of problem, some version of the question, but be receptive to a new question emerging as you're engaging in the process. That problem finding results in more exceptional creativity. That's where most of the exceptional breakthrough insights come from.
An example is back in 2004 when a computer programmer named Kevin Systrom decided to develop a location sharing app on the smartphone. The location sharing wasn't very successful. It was called Burbn, B-U-R-B-N. But I would bet none of you ever had Burbn installed on your smartphone. It wasn't very successful. So Kevin Systrom was trying to solve a problem of giving the world a location sharing app. As an afterthought he put a photo sharing feature into Burbn. And he watched people using Burbn, the few people that were using it. He realized they were all sharing photos and not doing location sharing. And he realized the question I should be asking is how to develop a photo sharing app. And he came up with Instagram. Instagram was a result of looking for a problem that emerged from the process. That type of problem finding creativity is what results in exceptional, surprising breakthrough ideas.
The creative process is not linear. You have to start the process. But, as I said, it's a way of life. You're engaging in this process every day. You're having these ideas. You start the process. You don't know where it's going to go. You can't know where it's going to go. You have to be receptive to the wandering improvisational zig-zagging nature of the process. Because that's what will lead to frequent and constant small ideas.
Another key aspect of the creative process is that these small ideas connect together over time. Each single idea can't be isolated because then you're just having lots of small ideas. Any one small idea doesn't move you forward. It doesn't result in exceptional creativity. It doesn't result in creative outcomes that can make a difference in the world. That's the key to the creative process is that you're connecting the ideas together over time through the days through the weeks. And one of the best way to do that is, as you're having ideas, you look for the ideas that seem to have the potential to drive you forward.
There's something interesting about that idea. You don't know what it is. It's not a matter of saying yes or no to each idea. You're not really selecting ideas. I mean, you have so many ideas every day in a creative life, you cannot pursue all of them. The ideas are sitting there. Maybe you keep a notebook. Maybe you're putting them on your smartphone app. You need to keep a record to them. But so many ideas how do you decide how to move forward in the process. Exceptional creators are sensitive to that potential. The potential of an idea. Something interesting about the idea, but I don't know what it is yet. The key is that those ideas are pushing the process forward. And each idea paradoxically connects back, connects back to the ideas that you've already had.
And what you have in this type of creative life is that each idea is constantly being revived. It's being edited. It's being improved. No single idea is ever final. You're never at the end of the process. Because each idea, even when you have the idea and you think you know what it means, a few days later you have another idea and it reinterprets. You start to realize that idea I thought I knew what it meant but in fact now I see it was something completely different. That's what happens when you have ideas that have potential. They have the potential to drive their process forward. It's a sensitivity to what's interesting about ideas. When you have that type of mindset - this daily practice, these ideas connect together over time and drive the creative process forward.
So I've talked about three practices, three habits of mind that exceptional creators engage in.
One of them is having these distant combinations that result in greater creativity, and engaging in daily practices that are more likely to fill your mind with these really diverse sets of concepts and information and experiences. A type of mindfulness, a type of awareness. That's one way you can enhance your creativity.
A second way that I've talked about is looking for problems that emerge from the process. This's problem finding. The process is not linear. Don't get too attached to the problem that you start with. You have to be ready to accept a change in direction - that the real problem, the really interesting problem to solve may emerge from the process.
A third set of practices, habits of mind that I've talked about is connecting the ideas together over time. It' a mindset you're looking for the ideas that have potential and you don't even know why yet. And you're also looking backwards to reinterpret ideas that you've already had. You don't know what they potentially mean until later. That's the power of the creative process. That's what makes it improvisational and wandering and zig-zagging.
Creativity is not mysterious. And that's good news because it means we all have the potential to engage in these creative practices. Everybody has psychological ability to have ideas. We have ideas all the time. And these practices I've talked about enhance your ability to engage in this creative process and have the types of ideas that drive it forward. We have the same mental capabilities as the most exceptional creators. We know from psychological research that none of this is beyond any of our abilities. We all have that same ability to engage in a creative life to fully realize our creative potential. It's hard work. It's hard work but the good news is it's fun, it's important, and it can be learned.
Based on psychological research you can realize your full creative potential. The potential to successfully engage in the creative process.
Editor's Note PS (Short comment, Toru Nakagawa, May 10, 2020)
Professor Sawyer talks about the Creative Process, as a life-long process where we wander around while encoutering many different small ideas and searching and seeking for something we do not know well at first. He did not mention any 'structured process of creative problem solving'. Dr. Ed Sickafus developed USIT at first as 'Unified Structured Inventive Thinking', and then proceeded gradually to more relaxed, 'free from Structure', 'Heuristic Innovation (HI)' method (Ref. Sickafus' Keynote Lecture at Japan TRIZ Symposium 2006 ). Thus Sickafus resonated with Sawyer to some aspects, I understand.
However, I would like to point out that Professor Sawyer's talk does not deny the role/contribution of 'Structured' creative problem solving methods. The latter, especially based on the general 'Six-Box Scheme' paradigm, can be used effectively and successfully at various points on the Jig-Zag way of creative process (in Sawyer's sense). If one would reject/deny such use of Structured creative problem solving methods, one could only insist on natural intelligence without scientific tools. While noting this point, we wish to get the mindset/practices/habits for the non-linear Creativity Process, advised here by Professor Sawyer. We will certaily be able to unlock our own Creative Genius.
|Concluding remarks||PS: Nakagawa's short comment||Video in YouTube|
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Last updated on May 25, 2020. Access point: Editor: email@example.com