“From Absurdity Comes Genius”
©1996-2007 by Richard Siena
For the last 25 or so years I have studied what makes up creativity. Scientifically put it is information that is perceived from the right brain and refined by the left. If you don’t quite understand this, don’t worry, it will take a good 40 hours of class time for you to “get the point.” Anyway lets move forward and explain how to stimulate creativity and what kills creativity so the next time you are working out a problem you have grater success at finding an “Out of the Box” solution.
First you must understand that different parts of you brain function in different manners. The right part of your brain is associated with creative thinking, music, art, basically all abstract ideas, while the left brain wants facts and proof and logic and reason, and start to finish steps to get to the end result. To satisfy both halves you must realize that it will be a give and take. That once you have an idea you then develop the steps to accomplish that idea. As Eisenstein once said it is 1% creativity and 99% perspiration. Once you understand how it works it will be easy for you to get ideas. Once you have the idea you then may have to work a little to implement the idea.
It is said that there is a slim line between a truly creative person and an insane one. If you take a closer look at this, it exemplifies that a truly creative person throws out ideas with out judgment and considers the possibilities of the idea before judging the idea. When I taught creative thinking classes years ago one of the exercises was to come up with as many ideas on a subject as possible in a 1 minute time period. No comments are to be made about the idea. That is no “that’s a great idea” or “that’s ridiculous.” What these judgments do is set a reward system for the group that is coming up with the ideas, and in fact stops most of the creativity as all members start to focus there attention to the last idea that got the reward or shy away from the “ridiculous” for fear of being ridiculed.
What is really interesting is that the first time we do the exercise with a new group, we give a flip chart to the group and they have trouble filling the page with ideas in the first “1 minute round.” Most groups will not even use the entire minute and say that they have exhausted new ideas after about 30 or 40 seconds. When the round ends, we stop the group and talk about what they did. Most groups are shocked to discover that they will repeat the exercise one or two more times for an extended time (longer than a minute) and that they will come up with many more flip chart pages that the initial “we exhausted the ideas.”
After a bunch of ideas are accumulated, the next phase is to evaluate and probe deeper into each possibility. This is the judgment part. Quite often this is where the “ridiculous idea” leads to the ultimate usable idea from the session, in a sense “from insanity to genius.”
It sounds very easy when explained here but it can takes a day or two to train a group to be able to apply this effectively to a business problem. This could explain why the “creative groups” often look visibly different then other groups in a company, because some people just think like that normally while others fit themselves in a box to survive in society.