Recently I've been watching TableTop. It's a fun series about different board games. One of the things that really got me interested is the potential for creativity here. Modern board games introduce a whole variety of different mechanics in terms of game play and with it comes a lot of creativity in terms of strategy you develop around it. I figured it would be a fun challenge to come up with a simple strategy game based on a standard deck of cards. Read on to see what eventuated.
So for this weeks article I decided to take the first 4 words that I got from our Idea Generator and write a piece on how these relate to creativity. Often, doing this as an activity is a really good way to spur some original thinking. If you're going to do it though, force yourself to work with the first set of words you get. If you don't then you're getting the words to fit your current thinking rather than using the words to force new creative thinking.
The world we live in is an amazingly complex place. Space is larger than we can imagine in every direction, and yet everything in it is comprised of components that are smaller than we can imagine. Take a grain of sand for instance. It is comprised of approximately 2 * 10^19 atoms. Those atoms are made up of protons, neutrons and electrons, which themselves are made up of quarks and gluons and on it goes. Science continues to extend our understanding of the world in both directions every day.
So I've spent the last few days setting up some new computer labs for a school. It was a fairly monotonous job that involved running through the same sets of tasks over and over on all the computers. Kinda boring to begin with but eventually I flipped over to autopilot and it became mostly subconscious. That's when the fun began as the creative side of me began to ponder and wonder.
I have seen various discussions on whether creative thinking is a natural ability, something that you are either born with or without, or a skill, something that can be taught and that we all can learn. I like to favor the latter. Through my own experience I have seen many people improve in their ability to be creative. Today, while marking a stack of assignments, I came across a different point of view. Maybe creativity is not a skill but a mindset.
You are a creative person. As a creative person, you have ideas. Some of them are no doubt quite grand. The question is, should you pursue them or not? Working out if your idea is truly awesome, with world changing possibilities, or just a silly idea that'll never take off is one of the hardest things to predict. Here's some food for thought.
The other day I oversaw an exam. It was a practical assessment and it afforded me an interesting observation. Creativity is not just about making interesting things. Creativity is also about getting things done. Creative people not only make things but can find ways to achieve nearly anything they want. Road blocks are something that can easily be worked around and may in fact provide opportunities.
Great presenters encourage creative thinking. I'm currently giving some lectures on how to write HTML and CSS (or how to make web pages). Over the years my material and method of presentation has evolved and with it has come some interesting observations. Our minds have developed over many millions of years to work in certain ways. Yet we spend a lot of our time dealing with ideas in ways that are not in-line with this. If you line the two up, things start happening.
A few days ago I was tasked with creating a solution to allow print queues to be displayed on a monitor above printers in a school. Sounds pretty mundane I know but it turned out to be an awesome exploration of the creative process. I'm sure there are gurus out there who could have hacked together a more robust and elegant solution that what I mangled together but I got a solution, and it worked. Read on to see me dissect the creative process at play.
C ontext is important
R eveal the underlying principle, powerful emotion and true beauty.
E verything is possible.
A sk the right questions. Ask many questions. Ask the questions that haven't been asked.
Are you having a lot of meetings but not really achieving anything? You know the deal. Everyone agrees that X is highly important. It's imperative that X is our primary focus. Etc, etc. A lot of talk, and everyone is excited and it feels like it's moving forward full steam ahead. The reality is the complete opposite. Nothing is happening except everyone restating how important X is. It's easy to fall into this trap with your creative projects.
Products and markets tend to follow a timeline. A series of phases from initial introduction to maturity. Creative thinking plays a different role as we progress through them. It can be quite interesting to follow and also useful to take advantage of. We go through a continual cycle of diverging and refining and each stage benefits from a particular type of creative thinking.
So this week I decided to break down creativity again. I like breaking things down into abstract ideas as it gives you a deeper understanding of the topic and also offers a great starting point for some healthy discussion. I have come to the conclusion that perspectives and relationships are what drives creative thinking. It's a generally accepted rule, however, that things always occur in 3's. What is the third pillar of creativity?
I've recently been reading the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. It's quite an interesting book and one of the ideas put forward is that when making decisions we gain more confidence by considering more data but we make poorer decisions at the same time. If you can find the key elements then you can focus only on them and make quicker and more accurate decisions. Finding those key elements, though, can be a real exercise in creative thinking.
Ok, so you've got a project you've just started or a conundrum you have to get sorted. It's a tricky one but it's going to be huge. You're onto a winner. How often have you started off with this attitude but ended up with mediocrity? There are several factors that will define if you're heading towards stardom or the middle of the road with your creative endevours. An important piece to look at is research.
I have spoken before on the underlying principle and it's relationship to creative thinking. It's something that I try to work out with everything I work on. (And so should you.) I have spent quite a while thinking about the underlying principle of this website and of websites in general. My thoughts are constantly evolving and changing as I approach the problem from different angles. Read on to see my current thoughts.
Creativity and memory are linked in several interesting and influential ways. Memory looks back at what has been while creativity looks forward and creates what will be. Yet the two intertwine and play with each other to define the world that we experience. Creative thinking plays a part in how we recreate our memories and memories add essential fuel to what we create. Let's consider what some of the consequences of this may be.
Foxconn, the company responsible for the manufacture of many Apple products (as well as Nintendo, HP and others) is looking to deploy over 1 million robots over the next 3 years to replace a large chunk of it's workforce. We now have self serve checkouts in many supermarkets and stores. Increasing online purchasing is removing the need for physical shop staff. I'm sure you can find many more examples youself. The fact is that technology is at a point now where it is replacing unskilled work like never before. This actually has a huge impact on us creatively.
I was having a discussion the other week regarding creativity and how you often need to break the rules to achieve the outcomes you would like. In particular, if it was necessary and what the consequences are. While we didn't come up with any concrete answers (but hey, you rarely do in these discussions), we did stumble on some interesting points and the rest of this article will discuss one of them. Maybe it's something you should consider in your creative endevours too?