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

08/03 Creativity Comment

Response Summary to the Creativity Technique Challenge

In the three months since giving our readers (05-07/03 Creativity Comment) an opportunity to indicate the value of a particular creativity technique, I received 41 responses.   I was hoping to be convinced of least one example of a method that actually does significantly stimulate new and useful ideas.

8 respondents claimed a specific technique to be effective.  Six were professional creativity consultants or trainers, most promoting their businesses, so I don’t consider them to have an objective view of the value of creativity techniques.  They could have demonstrated the value of a technique by providing a list of great ideas from clients who used the process.  Or they could have indicated satisfied clients who I could contact to check on their assessment of the value of the methods.  Each of the other two people (whose professions I could not ascertain) claimed that a certain technique does stimulate significant creativity.  Each made this claim for a different technique, but did not give examples of what useful was accomplished with the method.

28 respondents had experience with various creativity methods, but stated that they weren’t effective.  Excerpts from their responses:

“Upper management, looking for an easy way to get our company to be more creative, had  Human Resource staff  trained off-site.  They came back full of high expectations.  After six months of brainstorming, no one now dares use the word, ‘brainstorming.’” 

“My supervisor selected me to attend a three-week course on creative thinking and I was eager to learn.  But I learned nothing practical—just someone’s opinion of what people should do to be more creative, with no foundation for the opinion.”

“Aren’t we all very creative?  What’s to learn?  ‘Methods’ are worthless.”

“Maybe creativity techniques are useful in advertising but I they are not useful in product development which is my area.”

“Creativity trainers I know could use some creativity themselves.”

“I wonder what creativity methods Einstein, Picasso and Beethoven used?  Who taught them to be so creative?  No one?  Hmm!  Would a creative thinking technique have made them even more creative?”

Each of the 5 remaining responses can be summarized as claiming that I am too prejudiced against creativity techniques to objectively see their value; however, none of them provided evidence of an effective method.

I guess I do have this prejudice, which is getting stronger every time I visit an organization, attend a creative-thinking session, or see results from surveys such as this.    

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