steps to creativity - course edition 2015 (SC-2015)

Welcome to Steps to Creativity. Here below you will find some of the material we have worked during our classes. This course runs from February 2015 to May 2015.

Session 1

We started our course on creativity by understanding what we thought creativity was. Here below you can find a summary of the main ideas.

We presented the course's objectives and went through a first scientific analysis of how to make sense of the diverse aspects that affect creativity development in organisations. 

Key to creativity development is that each of you get involved in a "talking cure" to allow ourselves to start thinking and discussing that which seems natural, neutral and without a problem. (??)

To explore new possibilities might be exciting and many times even dangerous. However, it is always a protection, because it projects us outside of our little worlds.

You can access our presentation by clicking in the image. The first slide is just a representation of the current weather in St.Gallen. It can only get better! :-) 

Sessions 2 and 3

In these sessions we started exploring scientific works that clarify which are the key aspects we should consider when we start our investigation about creativity. We also explored all the myths surrounding creativity. Here below a visual form of our heated discussions.

The following two summaries are from the excellent book by Sawyer, R. K. (2012). The science of human innovation. Explaining creativity. Oxford: Oxford University Press (we have worked on pages 274-280 and pages 211-219)

The following myths can be found in written form in the book by Burkus, D. (2014). The myths of creativity. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 

Here is a short summary of all the myths done in Sawyer, R. K. (2012). The science of human innovation. Explaining creativity. Oxford: Oxford University Press (we have worked on pages 405-410)

Session 4

We are fast advancing, so far, in our first session we established the course's framework, and we also worked on understanding our own assumptions about creativity. On sessions 2 and 3 we have worked on dispelling the myths around creativity and therefore we have started approaching creativity development in a scientific manner. In this session, we have started understanding the main issues around creativity in organizations, and although we all know that we need to be creative and innovative, there are important elements that hamper creativity as many organizations can attest, even the most creative and innovative one's are not immune to these risks.

The biggest barrier to entry into new businesses is mental...innovators and creators are simply doing something that ‘does not make sense’ to established market leaders.
— Christensen, 1997, "The innovator's dilemma"

Session 5

We worked on understanding mental models. If we understand their significance our own world is radically transformed. We lose certainty of fleeting elements and are grounded in a different type of certainty which is prone to ask questions and inquiry deeply into reality. 

Today we worked on many aspects of mental models, however we did not finish dealing with them. Our understandings of reality are deeply rooted and we seek to clearly understand the consequences of mental models rationally and sensitively. 

This is a tick, when they have blood their body grows and acquires a grey tone

This is a tick, when they have blood their body grows and acquires a grey tone

 

Romantic love as we understand it today is a cultural concept. It is giving meaning to our sexually oriented nature. It does not need to be the way we currently live it, understand it and experience it. As we explained, we only have four aspects which come genetically determined:

  1. our physiology
  2. our sexual nature
  3. our symbiotic condition
  4. our linguistic capacity

All other, which means mostly everything, is defined culturally. Romantic love is not an exception.

 

For example, which world is real, that of  a tick or ours? what does our current understanding of biology tell us? Ticks seem to have only one perceptor, temperature, their world is driven by hot vs. cold. 

 
 

We still have questions about science. It is difficult to understand that science is just proposing diverse and expanding models of reality, but by no means we can say that those models are getting us closer to "reality": that which is unknown. This is hard to understand, because we see how science has improved our life standards, our conditions of survival, we can definitely say that science has made us progress, though as Ulrich Beck in Risk Society (1992) argues convincingly our 'scientific progress' might drive us to our demise. However, despite this fair understanding we can not derive as a consequence that science progresses towards discovering reality. The only thing we can say is that science is creating more models, some seem to work better than others, and our life seems to be improving as a consequence.  However, science is just creating models, maps; 'a map' can not get closer to reality. Each map has a different objective, and therefore is modelling diverse aspects so we can operate with them successfully. Therefore, we can not say that science is taking us closer to reality. Reality is an 'unknown' to which we superpose models that allow us to operate in this 'unknown' reality. 

 
Isaac Newton (1643, 1727) . English physicist and mathematician.

Isaac Newton (1643, 1727) . English physicist and mathematician.

 

We will continue exploring whether, for example,  gravity or the law of gravity existed before Isaac Newton (pictured on the left) defined it.  To completely understand that gravity does not exist and the law of gravity did not exist before Isaac Newton 'discovered' it is key to develop our epistemological flexibility and therefore allow us to free us of borders that hamper our inquiring mind.  We will continue investigating this issue. 

 

 
 

Here below you can click on our class working document for today's session

More information on mental models and their critique can be found on Princeton University website.

Session 6

We continued exploring the power of mental models. We have investigated some quite strong statements  "the world is in our nervous system", "our words do not describe the world, but only what is of value to us", "our words create the entities", "to be certain is to be mad", "meaning is established by humans, it is not 'there' ", "the law of gravity or gravity do not exist in themselves".

Therefore, we have established it is fool to speak at a deep level of "objective things or issues" everything is subject to our models. Of course we can always argue for some models being more useful and in this sense "better" than others. But in a true sense, all models are bad, there are 'just' models. If we think of them as temporary products of our civilization, then we are freer to challenge them and change them when not useful. This argumentation is not sustaining that all models have the same value, that they are all the same; there a models that are better than others, for example to ensure our survival.

Session 7

In this session we explored, in practical terms, how to move our automatic mental models. We reflected on the proposals of professor Corbí on how to actively bring into everyday operation IDS (Interest, Distancing and Silencing). We then continued by practicing and IDS exercise in deferred time.

Session 8

We explored what is the "secret weapon for  innovation" at IDEO, a design firm that has sprout together with Stanford Business school the design thinking wave. There is a whole section in the books part of this website devoted to design thinking. We reflected, analysed and structured the diverse elements into play. We watched and expanded on a summary of IDEO's way of innovating you can watch here below.

We continued inquiring on which are the conditions that we need to develop to be able to perform IDS in real time, this to move from our automatic mode of perceiving, thinking and feeling to a manual mode apt for creativity. Attention is key, and we started by using music as a way to sharpen and focus our attention. In this case we used Pablo de Lucía's music. First we followed the guitar movements, then the "cajón" and finally both instruments at the same time, during 5 minutes. Try it! record your efforts on attention development, if you practice everyday a bit, you will see how your attention focus improves. 

Session 9

In this class we continued challenging ourselves by deeply inquiring and discussing what looks normal, neutral and without a  a problem. Creativity starts with our ability to perceive, understand and act beyond our automatic ways of framing the world.  There is nothing wrong with "framing" the world, in fact is a very powerful and successful way to survive, and us, human beings, have the ability to frame "this world" in a cultural manner which allow us to transform ourselves faster than any other species. Our creative abilities are fostered when we first understand in a "lived" manner how we frame the world, and we recognise the possibility of an 'unknown'. We have got the instruments to inquiry about our automatic mechanisms, using IDS, which open a door to new discoveries, new understandings and new possibilities. Stepping in this 'unknown' is our protection, since it allows us to maintain our flexibility and our creative abilities.

We also continued clarifying the different aspects that need to be in place in organizations to continue being creative. It is not enough to have a bunch of "creative people" working in our organization. We also need to have scientific and technical expert knowledge. Furthermore, organizations need to develop the required organizational knowledge to create the measures, systems and procedures to manage the creative insights of their people, and finally and most importantly: organizations need to develop engagement and motivation among their members. 

Session 10

Session 11 

Today we did an experiment outside class. The objective was to understand even further the power of mental models and the strategies we can develop to be able to observe beyond those automatisms. Observing with deep interest transforms our understanding and approach to "things", "people" and "situations".

We also continued our learning about creativity

Session 12 - last session

This was our final class, but by no means we reduced the intensity...we investigated on our interests, a research  we need to be tuned to...to understand where to play our time and energies. We also had a bit of time to provide for very interesting feedback about the course (on the right, that which was right, on the left...that, which was not so right,...)

We ended the course by reading a beautiful text by Albert Schweitzer

Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist
— Picasso

We were the following participants:


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