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Creativity Comments by Winston J. Brill, Ph.D.

08/02 Creativity Comment

Fun and Great Ideas

What got me to write on the subject of fun was a talk I heard from someone who has had extensive training in creative-thinking methods.  He summarized the kinds of techniques he teaches in his company and ended the presentation with, “Above all, be sure everyone has fun!”

Fun?

My best ideas arose when I was stone serious, even troubled.  Unless you are in a “fun” business like comedy, games, or prank materials, I don’t see how fun induces great ideas.  When I survey people and ask how they came upon their great idea, it’s rare when someone says it was while playing, joking or kidding around.

I’ve observed famous inventors, artists, chefs, marketers and scientists do “their stuff,” both alone and with their teams.  They certainly weren’t having “fun.” 

Coming up with great ideas is a serious responsibility, a responsibility that should be borne by every employee.  If you don’t take it seriously, there’s no hope in getting great ideas.  Sure, you can collect a great many ideas on a particular problem when a group is having fun; probably many more than you would gather if participants were serious.  But as I showed in Comment 06/02, the quantity of ideas ought not to be a prime goal; quality is what you should be after.

I’m not recommending that a meeting to think of great ideas should forbid any humor.  A bit of laughter certainly can help a meeting achieve its objectives by loosening people up; but fun….?

Fun does have its role, however.  The fun part of a great idea usually arises in celebration, after it is deemed a great idea, and after its put into use.

What’s your experience?  

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