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Creative thinking June 27, 2008

Posted by fetzthechemist in Uncategorized.

Creativity means coming up with a concept, an idea, that nobody else has thought of yet. We routinely think of an success artist or musician as being inherently creative. We also think that the creative, innovative scientist does this in a similar fashion. That is both right and wrong.

Artists go with the feeling, the mood of their paininting, sculpture, music, or whatever form of art they create. They do not plan out, rank, or debate over it at it concept. That comes later. They create and later assess and polish. Brainstorming with a group of artists really is a storm, a torrent of unfettered ideas of all kinds. The dreamer in each of them takes hold.

Most scientists, due to the way their brains work, do not do this. Their brains operate in parallel, both creating concepts and assessing them for merit. The dreamer is stifled. Brainstorming with scientists is always a collection of staid, modestly innovative ideas. They all have been filterred before they are offered. Peer pressure is tremendous, at least in each person’s mind.

To create, a scientist needs to uncouple the two tasks, letting her or his brain go wild. No boundaries, no assessments. Then later these ideas can be combed through for any iseful ideas – those with even a small bit of innovation. These are assessed, maybe combined or permutated, morphing into a good total idea (or two or three).

In assessing, never assume that even the most obvious ideas have already been done. Check out to see if that is true. You might be surprised at how many “basic” things have never been done.



1. Milo - August 17, 2008

Ok, sorry for commenting all over the place tonight…

You should swing by my little $2.3 B/yr company to give them a lesson about scientific creativity. They seem to not have any clue. I do wish that more scientists would permeate up to through the ranks and populate at least a small fraction of the available management positions.

2. fetzthechemist - August 17, 2008

This concept actually is one used in training business managers to brainstorm. They also are too self-conscious of image when doing this. Nobody is comfortable enough in his or her thinking to put forward an idea other than the obvious ones. There are lots of tricks to thinking more creatively. I wish I had more opportunities to talk and teach people how.

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