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How to be Creative

How to be Creative by Jeremy Dean

This is a short book, by Jeremy Dean, I stumbled across while looking into how we can help teams be more creative.


if the most creative people don’t seem to know what they are doing right, this presents a serious problem for anyone trying to boost their creativity.

Innovation is important in designing new products, starting businesses or making scientific discoveries, but it is also about everyday activities.

there’s very little hard evidence that mental instability is either beneficial or detrimental for creative accomplishments

It’s not just a little knowledge that’s a dangerous thing; a lot of knowledge can be just as dangerous for creativity.

expertise can even inhibit performance when the task requires experts to ignore things they’ve learnt previously.

In some ways, knowledge is a cage.

Practice makes perfect, but it also makes the same thing over and over again.

It is virtually impossible to make creative leaps without existing knowledge to build on.

when anything is possible, when anything could be done, sometimes nothing is possible and nothing gets done.

creativity can be increased by introducing constraints.

The additive mind-set encourages people to think in a more expansive way, allowing them to generate more ideas.

the subtractive mind-set makes people think in a narrower, more analytical way, focusing their minds down onto the relationships between the problem’s components.

Creative solutions to difficult problems need time to gestate,

Even 18 years later, artists who spent longer constructing the problem were more successful.

but we also need to give ourselves time to analyze the problem.

this process of active engagement with the problems of creativity at an early stage which psychologists have found is one key to ramping up the potential for novel output.

Fools rush in where the more creative dare to tread.

it was positive emotions which made people more creative because they activated richer patterns of associations and stimulated more original thought.

participants who feel good do more enjoyable tasks and are more likely to push on with less enjoyable tasks they know have to be done eventually

Some studies have even suggested that negative moods can boost creativity more than either positive or neutral moods under certain circumstance.

sad moods made participants more likely to notice when a particular strategy for trying to solve a problem wasn’t working, and so more likely to change it.

it seems that happiness, fear, elation and anger are all emotions likely to promote creativity.

When we feel good and activated we’re more likely to be flexible in our thinking, allowing us to explore unusual ways of solving a problem.

we feel bad but activated, we’re more likely to persist with our task, systematically and analytically focusing on the details.

innovation is rarer when we’re hopeless, bored, content or even relaxed.

Janusian thinking is all about the ability to conceive of opposite ideas,

analogy is one handy way of finding concepts to set up in opposition;

encourage analogical thinking is to re-represent problems in more general, abstract terms.

best solutions were achieved when the problem was represented at maximum abstraction, zoomed right out.

if you’re stuck on one problem, it’s a good idea to try and solve another one at the same time

when there’s no solution in sight, it is better to expose ourselves to more problems,

analogies can help illuminate ideas that can be combined.

this distinction between abstract and concrete ideas is central to creativity.

‘thinking at a distance’ lead to more fluency, flexibility and originality in their thinking.

For creativity, the further away, the better the view.

a wandering mind is often associated with increased creativity.

something as simple as imagining yourself as a child has the power to boost playfulness, openness to experience and so creativity.

Controlled attention is what children generally lack and that’s why they’re not in charge of all our creative industries

creative people need both the wandering and controlled mind; it all depends on the stage.

creativity is mysterious, almost other-worldly.