History of Deliberate Creativity

The idea that you can be taught to be creative by using techniques of deliberate creativity is a recent phenomenon. The first approaches originating between fifty and seventy years ago.

There are roughly three approaches to deliberate creativity:

  • Brainstorming
  • Lateral Thinking
  • TRIZ

Innovation – the implementing of ideas that have value – is a younger concept.
Below we will explain shortly the differences behind each approach to deliberate creativity.

Brainstorming was invented by Alex Osborn during the World War II; the idea was developed when he realized that conventional business meetings were inhibiting the creation of new ideas.  The foundation for his ideas was based upon Organizational Development. Later on, Syd Parnes developed brainstorming into the Creative Problem Solving Process (CPS), and he founded the renowned Creative Problem Solving Institut.

Basically, the concept of brainstorming is derived from Freud’s theory about the development of the psyche. If we have the inner child in us free from the critical inner parent, then we can release the unspoilt natural creativity that has been repressed because of growing-up. There are more than hundreds variants of brainstorming techniques.

Because of their great appeal to free association, which is a technique used in psychoanalysis, the use of mind maps to enhance creativity and techniques to stimulate right brain activities head also under this approach.
Brainstorming has been successful technique especially in design and advertising.

Lateral Thinking
Lateral thinking, as opposed to vertical or logic and critical thinking was designed by Edward de Bono around 1970. It is based on the idea that information in the brain organizes itself in chains of associations or thinking patterns. Patterns can be seen as logical bulbs and are dictating what we perceive. Creativity is the deliberate escape from these patterns, in order to change perception, hence the name lateral thinking.
A related concept is that of Paradigm Shift by Thomas Kuhn, a change in the basic assumptions within the ruling theory of science.

The concept of lateral thinking is also closely related to the idea of human sense making and social construction of reality.

Although lateral thinking can be applied to a range of problems and challenges, it is especially useful in non-technical issues, as there are in business and public policy.

Triz, the Russian acronym for Theory of Inventing Problem Solving was developed by  Genrich Althuller around 1946. Based on a review of 40.000 patents, he devised a set of generic solutions for classes of problems. A central concept in TRIZ is that an invention typically overcomes a dilemma or a trade-off between opposing needs, a contradiction. This reflects the philosophy of Weber on Western progress and that of Karl Marx on dialectics in particular.

Originally, TRIZ was designed for solving technical problems and next generation systems, but is increasingly applied to software and business challenges.

The work of Altshuller is continued by the Altshuller Institute for TRIZ studies.

Photo: Splash Verde Acqua by Idea go


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