Teaching Talia

Current Creativity Concepts

Posted on: March 30, 2010

Notes on the lecture “Current Creatitiy Concepts” by Associate Proffesor Emma Robertson

My personal notes/ideas/words are written in purple.


Creativity is a fairly recent topic of study and research in a collective sense – human beings have constantly invented, modified and innovated, but the analysis of methods and techniques of creative thinking (and their processes) is mainly from our own time.

ooking at and applying practical creativity techniques. Some of these include:

Alex Osborn – Brainstorming (from the 1950’s to the present day)
Genrikh Altshuller’s Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ 1950’s to the present day)
D.K. Simonton’s studies into the origins of genius (1999)
R.S. Nickerson in his 1999 book Enhancing Creativity proposes 12 stages of process in applying creativity techniques
Michael Michalko’s techniques summaries (see weblink in Project 2A Brief)
Professor Teresa Amabile’s studies of the creativity of groups and organisations (model in Figure 1 above, present day). Amabile argues that to enhance creativity in business, three components are needed – expertise, skills and motivation.
Tom Kelley from IDEO (reference in this Lecture 3)
Sir Ken Robinson, see earlier references to the book Out of Our Minds, and TED Talk link
Daniel Pink, in the book A Whole New Mind, 2005 (see earlier link)
Dr Edward de Bono (which we will discuss here)

“A major characteristic of creative geniuses is the tendency to extend their associative horizon widely and unusually. The rest of us tend to constrain our associative horizons, in the spirit of linear and explanatory thinking, and to minimise imaginative connections, which are seen as carelessness and lack of discipline. Yet associations and imaginative connections are essential elements of creativity; they distinguish ideas that are truly original and innovative from those that are logical but inconsequential.” (Page 56, Ref 1)


stop and think for a moment about diagrams, models and graphic organisers you may have seen or used in the past.

You will notice that both arrows have the word ‘creativity’ in them.

‘laterla thinking’ coined by Edward De Bono (!! My favourite thinker ever!)

sometimes the term linear is described as being vertical, and lateral thinking is sometimes described as being horizontal. It is not however about breadth versus depth – because you can obviously get depth around an idea by using a lateral process

One creative thinking process is to deliberately look for opposite and contrary views to question our assumptions and predispositions, and to promote new potential idea pathways as a result.


10 types of thinking maps.

from the Circle Map (top left in Figure 4) we could produce a model like this to illustrate the Four C’s structure from Project 1A:

From the Double Bubble we could produce a model like this:

Here is a different style of model which does not appear as one of the ten standard formats, this time using analogy (the mind is like a spider’s web) to produce a model called Creative Web:

And sometimes LINEAR LAYOUT (as opposed to a more lateral format) helps us to recall progressive stages, as in the next model which shows the Seven Steps of Creativity, as an image and as a PDF:

Leonardo da Vinci also used drawings, diagrams, and graphs as a way to capture information, a way to formulate problems, and the means of solving problems. In Leonardo’s notebooks, the diagrams and drawings are the focal points, not the words. That is, his pictures were not intended simply as “illustrations” of his notes; rather, the notes were intended as comments on the pictures. Language took such a secondary role for Leonardo that he viewed it as a way to name or describe discoveries, not to make them. (Page 51)


Multiple perspectives can also be developed by considering specifically how we combine things together to create new outcomes.

Roukes splits his definitions into two categories: logical and psychological analogs.

Under logical comes design, function, and phenomena analogs.

Under psychological are sensory, empathy, symbolic/metaphoric and fantasy analogs.

Involved in creative problem solving:

1. Producing novel combinations out of familiar ideas/things through generating and testing.

2. Using analogical reasoning and metaphors to transform and transfer concepts from one domain to another.

Smith (1998: pg 110) also identified two primary categories: strategies and enablers

Strategies actively generate ideas and include:

Habit breaking strategies (challenging assumptions)
Imagination based strategies (what if?)
Search strategies (past experience and analogy / metaphor)
Analytical strategies (decomposition)
Development strategies (compare/contrast/combine, integration)

Enablers work in a more passive way by fostering creative conditions and include:

Intrinsic motivation
Incubation (setting the problem aside)
Deferred evaluation


do you think that a kite and a creative idea have much potential in common?

How A Kite Is Like A Creative Idea

Hard to get off the ground
Can pull things along and have it’s own momentum / lead you
Used for promotion
Who is in control of the kite or idea – you are, but it is easy to lose control
If you give it more slack sometimes it flies better in a looser, freer way
Requires multiple disciplines to create / make it
Responds to surrounding conditions – but conditions can change
Strong but lightweight infrastructure / support / skeleton
You need more than just a skeleton to make it function (surface, components)
Consideration of balance
Cord to attach it to where it came from, connection, control
Responds to different conditions (weather) in different ways
Good to look at on its own and also in a context with others
Looks different close to than from farther away (perspective)
Attracts the attention of other people
Has lots of variables
Can be 2D or 3D
They get stuck in things when they hit them unexpectedly
Hanging by a thread!
They both go in directions you’d rather not go in
They plunge to earth when you least expect it

After they had written down their ideas on their blue (kite shaped) pieces of paper, they stuck them collectively onto a wall in the overall shape of a larger kite. So they had:

Referred to a kite (they were played music, and also shown a real kite)
Reflected on how a kite is like an idea
Reconstructed in a group everyone’s suggestions

Metaphor Walk

“Take a walk around your home or place of study and the surrounding grounds. Look for objects, situations, or events that you can compare with your subject. For example, suppose your problem is how to improve communications in your company. You take a walk and notice potholes in the road. How are “potholes” like your corporate communication problem? For one thing, if potholes are not repaired, they get bigger and more dangerous. Usually road crews are assigned to repair the potholes. Similarly, unless something is done to improve corporate communication, it’s likely to deteriorate even further. An idea with a similar relation to “road crews” is to assign someone in the organization to fill the role of “communications coach”. The role would entail educating, encouraging, and supporting communication skills in all employees. And just as road crews are rotated, you can rotate the assignment every six months.

The guidelines for taking a Metaphor Walk are:

1. Take a ten to fifteen minute walk and look for objects, events, or situations that might make interesting metaphors with your subject. Make a list.
2. When you return, make as many metaphors as you can between your list and your subject. Look for similarities and similar circumstances.
3. Look for ways to transfer principles and similar circumstances from what you observed and your subject. Try to build at least one idea or solution from each metaphor. Ask yourself what new insights the metaphors provide as to how to solve the problem.

Our new question in Talking Point 3 in Message Board is – what creativity techniques from the lists in the links have you previously heard of, or used and applied?

Creative Techniquest I’ve used/heard of before:


Attribute Listing

Brainstorming (classic)

Six Thinking Hats

Flow Chart

Focus Groups



Dream Diary

Lateral Thinking

Pros and Cons

Mind Mapping


Think Tank


Why, Why, Why

I’ll just a select a couple to talk about.

Focus Groups-> I’ve been in a few focus groups before, and I find that they only really work if you get people interested in the subject in the group. If you’re in a classroom and you put the class into groups of 6 (so approx 5 groups), and each talks about an aspect of the school. You might be stuck in a ‘sport’ group when really your interest is in music and after school activities.

So I think with focus groups they need to be organised well and people need to be put specifically into groups.

SCAMPER and Lateral Thinking -> When I’ve used both of these techniques I’ve found them to be EXTREMELY freeing, creatively. They really just give you license to think silly, obscure, irrational thoughts, and put them out there. I find that the more ideas you say the more ideas come! With the SCAMPER model I’ve never actually solved a problem from using it, BUT it is a great ‘warm up’ activity to do before you dive into another type of creative thinking model.

Notebook-> I use my visual journal as my notebook. I have one of thsoe A5 ones, and i just carry it with me everywhere. I just draw/write what I see, or ideas that pop into my head. That way i never loose them… obviously I use it to develop my art pieces as well!

Why, Why, Why -> I think it’s kinda funny that this is a creative thinking process (it totally makes sense though), because it jsut reminds me of what kids say to their parents and the parents are like, “Please be quite now”. Haha.

1. Michalko, M. (1998) Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius Ten Speed Press: California
2. De Bono, Dr E. (1990) Lateral Thinking Penguin: London
3. Roukes, N. (1988) Design Synectics Davis Pub: Mass USA
4. Heerwagen, J.H. (2002) Creativity Chapter 15 – this Chapter is active as a Reading in Lectures


Mycoted lists 186 techniques in 5 categories for creative thinking and action Mycoted Techniques

Edward de Bono and links as above in Lecture 3.


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Just finished my Graduate Certificate in Cross Disciplinary Art and Design with UNSW.




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