So what is creativity, and how can you generate more and better ideas?
There’s pretty general agreement that:
Creativity is a Good Thing
Thinking outside the box is a Good Thing
Thinking laterally is a Good Thing
That’s a good start.
However, when you start asking about how creativity works, or just how you’re supposed to think outside the box, or think laterally, an element of vagueness starts to roll in, like a dense bank of fog off the Atlantic at the start of a horror movie…
You start hearing stories of people and organisations that thought successfully and laterally outside the box, in a way that solved their problems with designing better elevators. You encounter puzzles involving people and items being found in improbable situations, such as stabbed to death with no weapon visible, in the middle of a field of unsullied snow. It’s all very edifying and interesting, but it doesn’t get to grips with what creativity really is, or how to do anything systematic about creating new ideas.
This article gives a brief overview of a systematic framework for making sense of creativity, and for choosing appropriate methods for generating new ideas.
Generating ideas in groups is difficult. Dominant personalities can take over, or arguments can start between factions. Even for the most constructive and positive groups, most group-based methods involve only one person speaking or writing at a time, while the others sit and wait their turn.
This article is about Idea Writing. It’s a simple, efficient way of generating and developing ideas. The core concept is that each idea gets its own sheet of paper and that everyone writes their comments about the idea on each sheet. They also comment on what other people have written.
Working in this way means that everyone is active simultaneously, without having to wait their turn. It also avoids problems with arguments and dominant personalities. It has the further advantage that you don’t need someone acting as scribe for the session.
It’s a useful method to have in your kit. This article gives an overview with a worked example.