A crash course in creativity: Tina Seelig at TEDxStanford
Here’s why your innovation engine has stalled
In her brilliant talk, Tina talks about how we have far too narrow a view of creativity. And then reveals a model of what’s required to unlock creativity in the workplace. She calls this the Innovation Engine.
This colourful Mobius strip consists of six factors. The middle three are about people’s personal attributes and the outer three are focused on the outside world. Everything is woven together and every facet is necessary to getting creativity to thrive.
The attributes are combined as follows:
This is where most people start, when they’re thinking about creativity. But we don’t really teach people how to increase their imagination at school. Instead, we shut it down by focusing on the ‘one right answer’ approach. This can only lead to incremental solutions to problems. She suggests three things we can do to increase our imagination:
Framing and re-framing problems
“If you don’t ask a question in a thoughtful way, you are not gonna get really interesting answers.”
Connecting and combining ideas
“Most inventions in the world, most innovations come from putting things together that haven’t been there together before, often in really unusual and surprising ways.”
“One of the biggest problems we have is that when we ask people questions and give them problems, they come up with the first right answer.”
Tina describes knowledge as the “toolbox for your imagination”
Tina describes knowledge as the “toolbox for your imagination”. Most of us don’t pay much attention to the world around us. However, paying attention is one of the most powerful ways to learn things. If we don’t do that, we miss opportunities to see problems we can solve and spot solutions that may be staring us in the face.
Attitude is the spark that makes it all happen. It’s the motivation to apply imagination to the toolbox of knowledge to create fresh ideas. We need to see ourselves as the ones who can use the resources around us to make amazing things happen.
But the personal attributes are not enough to make the magic happen. You also have to look at the external factors.
These factors tell us the role we’re expected to play
This covers the environment you spend your time in. It’s the people you’re surrounded by, the rules, the rewards, the constraints and the physical space. These factors tell us the role we’re expected to play. And that role tends to be limiting. It tends to be one where challenging ideas aren’t welcomed.
People tend to think that resources just means ‘money’. But it’s all the stuff we can draw on. It includes natural resources and everything else in our work environment.
The last piece of the innovation engine is the culture you’re immersed in. Tina describes it as “the background music of any community.” And this background music changes the context and meaning of an action.
We have far too narrow a view of creativity.
She finishes by saying that you can start with any of these if you want to boost the creativity in your organisation. And everyone’s got the keys to this engine. They just have to use them.
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