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Am I creative person? November 16, 2010

Posted by Karīna Sīmane in Uncategorized.
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Creativity as well as design thinking are one of the top topics for now. There is a pilot project going on in Latvia in order to develop the creative abilities of school children (using the method of de Bono). I myself have had some problems with understanding the terms (for example – what is design thinking) and even to define if I am a creative person. This literature research was done for university course and brings some insights in these terms.

Illustration: Caroline HwangIllustration: Caroline Hwang

What is creativity?

Creativity is often defined as the development of novel ideas that are useful. One popular perspective equates creativity with divergent thinking or the extent to which individuals are able to generate a wide variety of ideas or responses to a particular problem situation. Group creativity can thus be defined as divergent thinking in groups as reflected in ideational fluency (1).

Creativity requires the ability to overcome known routes of thinking. There are many assumptions, tools and methods aiming to foster creativity; for example Smith (2) analyzed 172 idea generation techniques used in organizations and consultants. This huge amount of techniques can be referred to a small set of ‘active ingredients’ from which the best technique for different kinds of tasks can be deduced (2).

Creativity and the team work

Creativity is a very important factor in the team work. Without creative processes innovation becomes impossible. According to Shasvinina (3)over the past years, creativity and innovation are the most often named remedies to ensure a long- term survival of companies and to face a worldwide competition. Therefore it is essential to foster creative processes in school/ university team works as the ability of creative acting will have the utmost importance in graduates’ professional life.

Design Thinking

While creativity is considered to be important in the team work, the design thinking can be useful for each individual, especially if you are dealing with open and ill- defined problems.

For many years design thinking has been associated only with the design discipline, however lately new views about its importance in other fields have emerged. In scientific literature there are more and more articles about the need to incorporate design thinking in other disciplines for example engineering (4), management and business administration (5).

Design thinking is described as the obverse of scientific thinking. Where the scientist sifts facts to discover patterns and insights, the design thinker invents new patterns and concepts to address facts and possibilities. Therefore in a world with growing problems that desperately need understanding and insight, there is also great need for ideas that can blend that understanding and insight in creative new solutions. Implicit in this notion is the belief that design thinking can make special, valuable contributions to decision making (6).

There is an interesting article by Norman (7), where he states that design thinking is just a myth. Thus a very good money earning myth. Because design thinking is the same old creative thinking that has been known long before the designers entered the scene. In my opinion design thinking maybe is even a better word. Design is so hype but creativity as a term is quite difficult for ordinary people. Most of the people think that creativity is just a “thing” that artists have.

Keep in mind:

– creativity is not an ability that comes “out from the blue”. Everyone, who comes up with new ideas or solution  to problems runs through a creative process. Even if you think you are not creative- probably you are wrong:) Creativity is not just an artist thing!

– creativity is a step before innovation.So in order to be able to innovate you have to be creative

– design thinking is something that you can learn. It is just an ability to look at the problem from various points of view. The ability to look at the problem from different viewpoints enhances the creativity and leads you to innovation


(1) Paulus, B. P., 2010,“Groups, Teams, and Creativity: The Creative Potential of Idea- generating Groups”, ID4010 Course Reader Design Theory and Methodology, Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands,2010, Chapter 13, pp.171-190

(2) Badke-Schaub, P. (2007) ‘Creativity and innovation in industrial design: wishful thinking?’, J. Design Research, Vol. 5, No. 3, pp.353–367.

(3) Badke- Schaub, P., “Where do creative ideas come from? Uncovering the secrets of creativity”, ID4010 Course Reader Design Theory and Methodology, Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands,2010, Chapter 13, pp.159- 170

(4) Dym, L. C., Agogino, M. A., Eris, O., Frey, D. D., Leifer, J. L., Engineering Design Thinking, Teaching, and Learning, Journal of Engineering Education, 2005, January, p.103-120

(5) Dunne, D., Martin, R., Design Thinking and How It Will Change Management Education: An Interview and Discussion, Academy of Management Learning & Education, 2006, Vol. 5, No. 4, 512–523

(6) Owen, C., Design Thinking: Notes on its Nature and Use, Design Research Quarterly Vol. 2, N0. 1, January, 2007, pp. 16-27

(7) Norman, D. (2010) Design Thinking: A Useful Myth? http://www.core77.com/blog/columns/design_thinking_a_useful_myth_16790.asp


Creativity = getting high. February 9, 2009

Posted by ieva in Uncategorized.
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I’m still reading the book of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi “Creativity flow and the psychology of discovery and innovation” and I’m still amazed by the work the author has done!

It it a lot like reading my astrological horoscope- I recognize myself in 9 phrases our of 10. Csikszentmihalyi doesn’t give a key, how to become creative and successful but he reveals characteristics common for creative people (in very various fields).

Here are some more passages I felt I have to share with you.

“Creative persons differ from one another in a variety of ways, but in one respect they are unanimous: They all love what they do. It is not the hope of achieving fame or making money that drives them; rather, it is the opportunity to do the work that they ENJOY doing. (..) Yet many others in the same occupation don’t enjoy what they do. SO we have to assume that it is not WHAT these people do that counts but HOW they do it.”

“By random mutations, some individuals must have developed a nervous system in which the the discovery of novelty STIMULATES THE PLEASURE CENTERS in the brain.” This sounds veeery recognizable!

“Why are these people doing their work? It was clear from talking to them that what kept them motivated was THE QUALITY OF EXPERIENCE they felt when they were involved with the activity. This feeling didn’t come when they were relaxing, when they were taking drugs or alcohol, or when they were consuming the expensive privileges of wealth. Rather it often involved painful, risky, difficult activities that stretched the person’s capacity and involved an element of novelty and discovery. This optimal experience is what I have called FLOW, because many of the respondents described the feeling when thing were going well as AN ALMOST AUTOMATIC, effortless, yet highly focused STATE of consciousness. ” (p.107.-110.)

The words I read in the book really help me to understand better what is going on in me. The author explains things in a very easy- to -understand and clear way.

Well, now I have a legal reason to be addicted to work (: .

Creativity exercises January 1, 2009

Posted by ieva in Uncategorized.
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The beginning of a new year is traditionally time for good resolutions.

Most of the times it’s all up to ourselves- to make our lives better, to start enjoying every single day, to become the person we really want to be… And as I just mentioned, creativity can really be something that changes the life!

I’d like to share some more thoughts from the book “Creativity. Flow and psychology of creativity and invention” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

– Try to be surprised by something every day. It could be something you see, hear or read about. Stop to look at the unusual car parked at the curb, taste the new item on the cafeteria menu, actually listen to your collegue at the office. How is this different from other similar car, dishes, conversations? What is the essence? (..) Life is noting more than a stream of experiences- the more widely and deeply you swim in it, the richer your life will be.

– Try to surprise at least one person every day. Comfortable routines are great when they save energy for doing what you really care about; but if you are still searching, they restrict and limit the future.

– Write down every day what surprised you and how you surprised others.After a few days you can reread what you wrote down and reflect on the past experiences. One of the surest ways to enrich life is to make experiences less fleeting, so that the most memorable, interesting, and important events are not lost forever a few hours after they occured.

– Wake up in the morning with a specific goal to look forward to. Everyone can discover at least one thing every day that is worth waking up for. Eventually most of the day should consist of tasks you look forward to, until you feel that getting up in the morning is a privilege, not a chore.

– If you do anything well, it becomes enjoyable. The more activities that we do with excellence and style, the more of life becomes intrinsically rewarding.

Happy and creative new year! December 31, 2008

Posted by ieva in Uncategorized.
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(pic: Sebastian Errazuriz. Duchamp. Revisited.)

As Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi said it, CREATIVITY is what makes our “day-to-day experiences more enjoyable, more rewarding. When we live creatively, boredom is banished and every moment holds the promise of a fresh discovery. Whether or not these discoveries enrich the world beyond our personal lives, living creatively links us with the process of evolution.”



Consumers- the new (co)creators. December 17, 2008

Posted by ieva in design competition, Uncategorized.
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I recently wrote about the design-it-yourself trend. Here is the part 2.

“Broad cultural, technological, and economic shifts are rapidly erasing the distinctions between those who create and those who use, consume, or participate. This is true in digital experiences and information environments of all types, as well as in the physical and conceptual realms.”(Joe Lamantia)

More and more companies make sure they satisfy the needs and desires of consumers, letting them be heard, developing systems of (often online) communication. For example, the French company MyFab produces the objects (furniture) that get the most votes on their website.

All kinds of crafts and diy (do it yourself) are gaining popularity. More designers will soon provide users more possibilities of using their designs for free or low costs, by downloading patterns from internet sources. Will we soon be able to make our own “Prada” coats? Open source, open data and co-creation will be the keywords for anybody who does diy.

There are more and more companies that ask for consumers’ opinions, so that they can get free or cheap business ideas and give them feeling their opinion matters. There are firms like Starbucks that successfully use this principle. They collect real ideas’ banks that are worth… a lot!
Letting consumers choose and decide is for sure one of the shortest ways to their hearts (and wallets).
In the future active and successful co-creators could benefit of different advantages from the companies, integrating their structure.

Nowadays one doesn’t need to be a designer to be a creator. Like the Latvians who made the TrousersLondon brand as a result of their own difficulties to find cool jeans.

Consumers and creators won’t have totally separate roles any more. Already now the Second Life owners earn millions of dollars thanks world the to the users contributions. They have developed a sophisticated world comparing to the primitive one the Linden lab started with.

Diy also matches the “going green” trend. It encourages to recycle waste materials, reuse things we would throw away otherwise. It also stimulates small scale community creation and development (online and off line). We are already familiar with all kinds of knitting groups. These communities will become even more popular, bringing together people from different parts of the world, allowing exchanging ideas, tips and cultural questions.

The quick ongoing technological development will also stimulate the diy in the future. The technologies will become much more affordable and will provide more high quality possibilities for creating in virtual and physical world. One could draw a piece of furniture, jewellery etc. and order it from a rapid prototyping company and get it delivered in a few days. Or “print” directly at home (at least small scale) 3 dimensional objects.
This will change business and economical structures. One of the results will be the growth of virtual economies.
What role will have designers when everybody will become a designer?

For sure, it will change. Will they be there just to make systems and tools for creation? Will designers become some kind of design “coaches”, teachers? Probably they will be like gurus, the ultimate “know-how” holders and some kind of translators, who know, how to give 3 dimensions and life to the ideas people have? Will they be mostly preoccupied with designing services and experiences? There will be creativity courses for children and adults- to help them to develop their creative skills and imagination. Creativity and ability to improvise will be extremely important in the future for each one of us.