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Monday, April 23, 2012

Tina Seelig’s Insights on Creativity | Karen A. Frenkel, The Creativity Post

Frenkel's article summarizes some of the ideas and findings described by Tina Seelig in her new book, InGenius: a Crash Course on Creativity.

It highlights three factors that Seelig says can spark creativity: attitude, knowledge, and imagination. For example, Frenkel writes that according to Seelig, "the attitude that unexpected outcomes are not failures, but rather data to learn from, is crucial to creativity and innovation."

I've heard, read and agreed with similar insights that focus on "mistakes" instead of failures. The cliche, of course, is "We learn from our mistakes." But it's so true! My own website on writing features a graphic of a pencil, which I consider a great symbol of creativity. "It's OK to make mistakes," goes my thought process. "That's why pencils have erasers!" We can try something out, jot it down, and test it. If it's wrong or doesn't work, we can erase it and try again!

Quoting Seelig: 
There’s a huge problem with the word failure. As a scientist, when I do an experiment that doesn't work as I expected, what do I call it? Data. It’s not a failure. In fact, some of the most interesting scientific research comes from experiments that have unexpected results. The key is to look at the things that don’t come out as expected as data that provides interesting clues to what is really happening. If you are afraid of failure, you won’t try anything new.
Frenkel's article continues by describing the other factors that spark creativity in Seelig's "Innovation Engine." She writes (emphasis added):
In Seelig’s Innovation Engine model, attitude, knowledge, and imagination overlap and are internal because they reside in the mind, whereas culture, habitat, and resources are of the outside world. Culture, habitat, and resources influence the process by which imagination catalyzes the transformation of knowledge into ideas. Thus the individual and the environment are interdependent in interesting and non-obvious ways and essential for creative problem solving.
She also briefly explains how those factors interact in this graphic for Seelig's Innovation Engine:

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