Capturing Creativity

Interesting artcile from Psychology Today: LookSmart’s Capturing creativity. Robert Epstein (last to receive a Ph.D. from B.F. Skinner) lists four strategies for generating creative output. These are

  • Capturing: The main thing that distinguishes “creative” people from the rest of us is that the creative ones have learned ways to pay attention to and then to preserve some of the new ideas that occur to them. They have capturing skills. In other words, get a PDA and learn how to use it.
  • Challenging: One way to accelerate the flow of new ideas is by challenging yourself–that is, by putting yourself in difficult situations in which you’re likely to fail to some extent. A challenging situation is like an “extinction” procedure in the behavioral laboratory. We extinguish behavior when we withdraw the reinforcers that usually maintain that behavior. In challenging situations, a great deal of behavior goes unreinforced; it just doesn’t work.
  • Broadening: If you want to enhance your own creativity, take courses in subjects you know nothing about. Once a year, at least, take a course at a local college in the last thing you’d ever want to know about. Land’s own breakthrough invention came about because of training he had in crystallography, chemistry, and other fields. The invention of Velcro, the modern theory of electron spin, and countless other advances were made possible because their creators had training in diverse fields. Steve Jobs recently made a point of how his training in caligraphy contributed to the intitial success of the Macintosh.
  • Surrounding: Finally, you can enhance your creativity by surrounding yourself with diverse stimuli–and, even more important, by changing those stimuli regularly. Diverse and changing stimuli promote creativity because, like resurgence, they get multiple behaviors competing with each other. If you put a Mickey Mouse hat and pliers on your desk in the morning, your thinking will move in odd directions during the day. Call these items distractions, if you like; they are great reservoirs of creativity

Found this reading a ./ article discussing SAS management styles.