Breaking down creativity

Just read this fascinating article on the What Makes Them Click blog. Nice and short - give it a read:

It’s fascinating that something so visceral as creativity can be broken down into analytic chunks like this. I’ve always relied on ideas that just pop into my head when problem solving… so I guess that’s spontaneous cognitive creativity? Nice to learn that this is prompted by temporarily removing the issue at hand from conscious awareness, to allow the subconscious to process. I’ll have to try that.

Thoughts about this article, and developing/cultivating creativity in general?

That’s an interesting article. I think that over time I have sort of developed a little bit of the spontaneous cognitive creativity, without really knowing it. While I am working, I am constantly switching tasks. From one aspect of the design to another. From CAD to sketching and back again, all in a quick period of time. I have found that this helps me to step away from something, and apparently the subconscious is still working on the problem at hand.

I always just thought it was a manifestation of some extreme case of un-diagnosed ADD.

I do not like categorising things. I do not like categorizing creativity too. I believe categorizing things is usually necessary for many reasons but I still don’t like it. It forces people to think within certain borders. What is the use of categorising creativity, for creativity?

great quick read, thanks for sharing a-type.

In my experience, when I and my peers were younger, we would often butt heads because of our different ways of generating concepts, myself being much more intuitive, and some of my equally capable co-workers having been much more analytical. As I’ve matured, I’ve found the strength of partnering with others that have different kinds of approaches… it takes some early role definition, an open mind, and some thick skin sometimes, but the results tend to be better.

In my very limited experience, I don’t think there’s a clear divide between deliberate and spontaneous. Most people do both, there’s just a spectrum of how much of each they do. I think the largest cluster is towards the center.

The intuitive/analytical divide is much clearer and I don’t know of very many people who display both. The distribution is skewed more towards the extremes.

Agreed there, that categorising things often results in a tendency to forget the possibilities of what is between or beyond the limits of the categories. Nonetheless this kind of analysis is entertaining at best, if only as an example of one way of approaching the phenomenon of human creativity. :slight_smile:

It’s all just made up.

I don’t understand why categorizing things could be a bad thing. It can help you to think about things in different ways. When I do research in a design project, a lot of the value comes in categorizing my observations in different ways. When you take something as large and ambiguous as creativity, you can’t get any further if you leave it in a large mass of nothingness. When you break things down into smaller meaningful groups, you start to be able to look at it from a completely different perspective than before. This to me is what design is all about.

The only problem with categorizing comes when that is the status quo, and it is not to be challenged. But taking something that is normally not categorized, and breaking it down is a good thing, IMO.

Categorizing things is a good thing. It is the way our brains work. The important things are to remember to let your brain wander in and out of categories, and to remember that it is an artificial construct and others potentially see things differently.

Oh wow.
Yes, that’s a very interesting article.
I immediatly sent it to my sister’s study advisor in school. He’s a psychologist and gives lectures about creativity and methods of creativity all the time.
thanks fo the link

On a recent trip to china I was asked by my host "what makes you so creative? (not just me I assumed, the whole raft of Euro/American designers there…). Scrambling for a diplomatic answer, I found these categorizations a useful way to say that we’re all creative, but in different ways.

That experience did beg the question- do different ethnicities/cultures/nationalities perceive creativity in different ways?

i would say so, yes.
you must of course distinguish weather you talk about the whole population or only different “classes”.
for example when u’re in turkey and say to “undereducated” people, you’re an artist, the first thing that pops up in their minds is a musician. (or a painter - but everything beyond is beyond their assumption of the term “artist”

but when i’m in my berlin apartment, doing some freakish experimental performances, everybody there would totally agree, that this ist “soooo arty”.

it definetely depends on the regional and cultural background.

Most definitely. But more importantly than the perception of creativity is the perception of the inherent dichotomy of success and failure which creativity carries with it. For example, in Japan failure is viewed very critically and is something to be avoided. By comparison, in some western cultures failure is seen as an important learning process and isn’t feared at all. These attitudes shape the character of the creativity in these countries very heavily I think.

This technique is called portfolio analysis (the term is not limited to financial stuff).

Of course :wink:

  • the diagram uses names and the cliches behind these names, which can lead to false conclusions: neither is this how these people think (thought) all the time nor is a person limited to fit one category
  • there are severe discrepancies in output quality of different kinds of creativity. That reaches from most often completely worthless ideas, on the website described with that euphemism “probably can’t be designed for” (spontaneous/emotional), to possibly millions of dollar worth solutions (cognitive/deliberal)