Seminar 1 – “Get Creative”

by ciarankieran

( 2012)

“The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.” – Pablo Picasso.

( 2012)

Creativity and the appreciation of  it is something which I believe is molded into us as human beings.  The imaginative innovation of humanity is a fundamental aspect of our existence.  Creative inventions and improvisations make the business world go around.  Every product or service we value today has been brought to us because people “got creative”.  I found it encouraging that the first seminar on our DICE module dealt with creativity, how it thrives, the obstacles to  it and the benefits it brings us.

I had heard something of Edward de Bono and his theories on thinking before attending “Get Creative”, having been introduced to “the thinking hats” on a mature student course.  The scale of companies he has worked with is significant, IBM, British Airways, Ericsson and British Coal to name a few ( 2012). I was glad to get another opportunity to further my knowledge of his ideas.  Especially from someone as familiar with de Bono’s understanding as Nigel Newman is, a Global Master Practitioner of  de Bono’s methods of thinking.  Hearing of the scale of the De Bono Foundation surprised me.  It now extends over 40 countries and has 7.5 million users worldwide. It was also interesting to learn that Edward de Bono was appointed a DCU professor in 2005.

( 2012)

“Is the human brain, with all its problem-solving prowess and creative ability, powerful enough to understand itself? Nothing in the known universe (with the exception of the universe itself) is more complex.” 

(Laura Helmuth 2011)

Understanding your equipment is important when conducting any task so it follows that if we want to think appropriately we really should try to understand the brain.  I found it insightful at the beginning of the seminar when Nigel said that “the excellence of the brain arises directly from its ability to use patterns”.  He then described how these patterns are useful because they help us to learn and remember how to do essential things.  An example he cited was putting the correct shoe on each foot.  Without a pattern being formed in our brains by continuous repetition no one could learn musical instruments or read or write.   However as Nigel made clear, such patterns can lock our minds into a continual way of thinking thus hindering us from thinking creatively.  (Nigel told us that The Mechanism of the Mind, de Bono, 1969 explores these ideas further.)

I thought there were many interesting concepts in the “Importance of Perception” part of the presentation.  The perception conundrum with jockeys and horses  showed how difficult and simple problem-solving can be at the same time.  I was surprised at my own lack of invention during the exercise involving the statement that “all cars must be painted yellow”.  However, I can see how dividing our focus into positive, negative and interesting when dealing with situations could be useful.

In the exercise involving the six hats, my group chose to analyse the option “There should be a free e day each week”.  I found that I was able to think easiest with the white hat on (the positive one).  Though thinking positively has many advantages I was interested to read that it can be problematic also.  It can lead to an unrealistic, miscalculated enthusiasm.  We rarely hear of it but overtly optimistic thinking is credited in some psychological circles as being responsible for such catastrophic outcomes as the burst of the economic bubble (Robert L. Leahy 2011).

The thing I found most fascinating about Nigel’s talk were the real life examples he brought into view.  My favourite anecdote was that concerning folk singer Dave Carroll who cost United Airlines 180 million in shares after recording a song deprecating the airline after they broke his guitar.  It shows how one person responding to one incident in a creative manner can have such a massive effect.

There were lots of beneficial pointers and well thought out advice throughout the presentation.  I particularly liked the approach we employed of useful wishful thinking in the exercise on supermarkets.  Many great inventions were born because people dreamed of a better alternative or recognized a need that wasn’t being met.  Below is an example of how desire can give rise to innovation.

( 2012)

“If at first the idea isn’t absurd, there is no hope for it”. – Albert Einstein.

(Erik Johnson 2009)

(Look Closely, you might miss them.)

I gained many valuable insights from the “Get Creative” seminar.  Among them was the idea that it is important to “find time to be creative”, as this is how inspiration comes.  I plan on setting time aside for this very purpose.  As well as this, as my opening quote suggests and the problem solving exercises show, sometimes creativity can be hindered by our own narrow logic.  I was also inspired by the many stories of innovative thinking and the benefits it has brought.  I thought the “Decaux model” for bus stops that Nigel mentioned at the end was very interesting.

Learning how to be creative is not something we typically associate with most university business courses.  The more methodical aspects of business are usually those that are focused on, at least in common perceptions.  It was refreshing that creativity was given its due attention at “Get Creative”.

References: 2012. Get Creative [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 20 October 2012]. 2012. Pablo Picasso Quotes [Online].  Available From: [Accessed 20 October 2012]. 2012. Edward De Bono Biography [Online]. Available from [Accessed 20 October 2012].

Robert L. Leahy 2011. The Dangers of Optimism [Online]. Available from [Accessed 20 October 2012].

Laura Helmuth 2011. Beauty of the Brain, Smithsonian Magazine [Online]. Available from http://www.smithsonianmag/science-nature.html#ixzz2A3T4qMLA [Accessed 22 October 2011 2012. Cool Brain Facts [Online]. Available from [Accessed 20 October 2012]. 2012. Page 23 [Online]. Available from [Accessed 20 October 2012].

Erike Johnson 2009. God Does Not Play Dice With the Universe. [Online] Available from [Accessed 22 October 2012].