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

05-07/03 Creativity Comment

Know Any Proven Creativity Techniques?

My ongoing study (Comments 03/01, 04/01) so far has found no evidence of any technique or method that significantly stimulates the kinds of ideas—great ideas—that drive innovation.  Some people become quite upset about these results.  They tell me that technique “X” (stands for their favorite technique) absolutely works.  How do they know this?  By stating that when they use “X” they acquire many more ideas and that the technique drags ideas out of people who normally don’t seem to be particularly creative.  Keep in mind that my definition of creativity is having new and useful ideas (Comment 06/01), not just having ideas.  They also tell me that “X” has to be effective, for why would there be courses, seminars and books on the technique?  Why do so many companies pay to train staff to be skilled in facilitating the technique?

When I ask these supporters to give me an example of a great idea in their organization that resulted from use of “X,” they are almost always stumped.  OK, I’ll admit that sometimes I’m given an example of a great idea arising in a session using method “X.”  Upon further investigation, I commonly find the person who had the idea disclaims the influence of the technique.  Once in a rare while, however, a great idea clearly arose due to use of a creativity technique.  Did subsequent great ideas blossom when the technique was later used?  No!  How many successful organizations (or groups, or individuals) stick with someone else’ creativity technique over an extended period of time?  Bet your organization isn’t convinced of the value of “X” after giving it sufficient opportunity to show its worth.  You’d think if people were convinced of a method’s effectiveness, they would be relying on it as much as possible.

In previous Creativity Comments, I’ve challenged our tens of thousands of readers to convince me that there is an effective creativity technique.  If I am convinced, I’ll share this information in future Creativity Comments (I will first ask permission to identify you or your organization.  If you wish, you can remain anonymous to our readers).  I am open to changing my opinion and will pay attention to each of your responses to this continuing challenge.      

©2006 Winston J. Brill & Associates. All rights reserved.