Introduction To This Creative Thinking Journal (3 of 4):
This journal was written by a Creative Thinking third level student, it received a grade ‘A’. It was the third of four journals written by the student, the others included the Creative Press, the Creative Person and the Creative Product. This journal introduces many of the powerful tools used to enhance individuals and teams creative output. I have left out the cover sheet, which includes the student and lecture’s personal details and so on.
The Creative Process
The Creative Process provides a set of tools that help enable us to be deliberately creative when problem solving. These tools are part of and overall set of tools for creative problem solving known as CPS or ‘Creative Problem Solving’ (Osborn & Parnes, 1950′s).
Our team project was to identify tourist business ideas, for a fictitious derelict girls boarding school building, located on a twenty acre site somewhere in rural Ireland. In this reflective document, I will touch on some of the important tools of the Creative Process that we used, and provide examples where appropriate.
The Key Creative Tool:
The key tool used during the creative process is of course the human brain. “Our brains are divided into two hemispheres. The left hemisphere is sequential, logical, and analytical. The right hemisphere is nonlinear, intuitive, and holistic.” (D.H.Pink, A Whole New Mind, 2005)
The right hemisphere is proven to be far more active during creative thinking, as compared to the left hemisphere. For the brain to achieve maximum creativity while problem solving, it must be allowed to consider all possibilities, without fear, and often without judgement. To assist the brain in its work, we can avail of several powerful thinking tools.
Divergent Thinking can be used to develop many creative ideas and options. While it can contain elements other than ideas, it’s key requirement is for the participants to defer judgement of ideas until this creative stage is complete. Judging ideas as they are generated will inhibit the creative process, because people will be less inclined to submit ideas to the group for fear of rejection.
For Divergent Thinking to be effective, we must:
- Defer Judgement
- Strive for Quantity
- Seek Combinations
(J.M.Fox & R.L.Fox, 2000)
Divergent Thinking Tools include:
- Brainstorming (Osborn, 1938)
- Forced Relationships
- Morphological Matrix
We don’t have space to discuss all these tools in full, so we’ll focus on the two tools used most by our team during our creative process project.
During the development of our team project for the Creative Process, we first used Brainstorming (Osborn, 1938) to identify new ideas. The result of using this technique was surprisingly valuable. There were a number of ideas put forward that I felt were not suitable. However, I deferred judgement, and instead ‘Freewheeled’ with the idea flow. My team members did the same, each of use picking up on ideas and evolving them. As a result we developed an entire group of useful and novel Irish heritage ideas that otherwise might not have been considered. These included Irish dancing classes, an introduction to Irish sports, and Irish folklore storytelling for families. We produced a high quantity of ideas for other pursuits too, with many based around indoor/outdoor sports, games, relaxation, accommodation, and necessary facilities for the resort.
Using the next tool, the Morphological Matrix, we sought new combinations of ideas, resulting in many novel, and useful activities.
Morphological Matrix is an excellent tool used for discovering new creative combinations from items within groups of variables listed under related subject parameters. The Morphological grid usually has four or five columns (it can have more or less), each with a parameter as it’s header. Below each column parameter, as many variations as possible are listed. This list of variations could be a result generated by using another divergent tool, Brainstorming.
The Morphological Matrix In Action:
Using the grid to generate new idea combinations is easy. Simply choose one variation from each column at random. The combined result is different every time, and each idea can be explored for it’s potential usefulness. The following is one Morphological Matrix grid we used for our project. I have listed two combinations below, with conclusions regarding the potential viability for each result.
|Kids (boys & girls)||Archery||Indoors||Morning|
|Kids (boys only)||Playground||Outdoors||Afternoon|
|Kids (girls only)||Arts & Crafts||Off site||Evening|
|Men Only||Laser tag||Outdoors||Morning|
|Men and Women||Irish dancing||Off site||Afternoon|
|Men and Kids||Kayak||Indoors||Evening|
|Women and Kids||Assault course||Outdoors||Night|
|Specialists||Adventure Biking||Off site||Night|
- Combination #1: Men and women’s activity, cycling, indoors in the afternoon.
- Conclusion: If we had an indoor stunt bike course this might be viable, unfortunately we don’t, so this combination is not viable. However, we might consider the feasibility of building an indoor stunt bike course, a new idea that had not come up while brainstorming!
- Combination #2: Singles activity, arts & crafts, off site (outside of the resort grounds), scheduled for the morning time.
- Conclusion: This combination presents a viable option for further exploration.
While we could go on diverging ideas forever, we must eventually decide when to start narrowing the list of options to those with the most potential for success. Convergent Thinking is the creative process used to select options from our list of possibilities. There are clear guidelines for using Convergent Thinking as follows (Fox & Fox, 2000):
- Use Affirmative Judgement – find advantages first
- Be Deliberate – Evaluate systematically
- Consider Novelty – Seek new and unusual options
- Work to improve your options
There are many useful Convergent tools, including
- Hits – Intriguing, clear, stands out, feels right etc.
- Highlighting – Clustering Hits with common themes, and restating/labelling the cluster
- Card Sort – Prioritise, rank and compare options written on cards or Post-It Notes
- PPCo (D. Foucar-Szocki & R. Firestien) – Pluses, Potentials, Concerns, overcoming key concerns
- LCOb – Likes, Concerns, Opportunities and going back to main concerns to find ways to overcome them
Our team used Hits and Highlighting to identify and group activities with common themes. For example, we decided to combine activities such as forest adventure biking near an outdoor forest assault course. These were to be in a separate part of the forest to the nature trails and family picnic areas. The idea behind these clusters was to minimize noise pollution and danger to people not involved in adventure activities.
Due to assignment word count limitations, I cannot expand on the other creative process tools studied in class, but will briefly mention them here. They included SCAMPER (Osborn), Da Vinci, and De Bono’s Six Colored Hats. Like Brainstorming and the Morphological Matrix, each are powerful for generating new ideas and combining options that might otherwise never be considered.
Besides being extremely useful, they are a lot of fun to use! I will certainly use them for future creative projects.
- Fox, J.M. & Fox. R. (2008) Exploring the Nature of Creativity, Kendall Hunt Publishers.
- Daniel H. Pink (2005 – 2011) A Whole New Mind, Marshell Cavendish Business.
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