Posted by: bbannan | April 30, 2009

Creative Thinking in Instructional Design – Jennifer

I have been browsing Michael Michalko’s book Cracking Creativity – the secrets of creative genius. Michalko is an expert in creative thinking who leads workshops, seminars, and “think-tank” sessions around the world. Each chapter of his book details a different creative-thinking strategy that can be applied to any variety of problems. One strategy that Michalko describes is called Finding What You’re Not Looking For where one actively and purposively seeks the “accidental discovery” by deliberately exploring the odd and unusual. Michalko gives an example of a greeting card company who wanted new products and new markets so employees were asked to come up with absurd ideas. One of those “absurd ideas” was to send greeting cards to dead people. From that absurd idea the principle of communicating with the departed emerged and employees were asked to list the features and aspects of the absurd idea. Features such as leaving flowers and artifacts at cemeteries and publishing personal messages in newspapers to the departed were on the list. From there, “Imagineering” took place where employees were asked to take one of the principles or features and build it into a practical idea. Then, eureka! The feature of leaving things at the cemetery led to the idea of publishing memoriam cards on sticks so they could be inserted into the ground at the gravesite. Apparently these “cards-on-sticks” are now sold in florists shops that are located near cemeteries (Michalko, 2001, pgs. 243-244).

For more strategies that build creative thinking check out Michalko’s website at http://www.creativethinking.net/WP01_Home.htm. On the left sidebar, click on the “techniques” and/or “exercises” and have fun with some engaging activities. Then, reflect on our professional practice. To what degree does instructional design employ creative thinking? How can some of the techniques Michalko describes be used in the instructional design process? Are the most creative solutions always the best solutions?

From:
Michalko, Michael (2001). Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius. California: Ten Speed Press.

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Responses

  1. I think clients approach all designers in search of creative thinking. Afterall, if it was truly easy, wouldn’t they do it themselves? Moments of creativity (or genius) do not simply occur; they are built by extended, laborious practice. Conducting the research, reading contemporary theory, exploring the problem from multiple sides – hours of these endeavors are the building blocks of that insightful moment that appears to happen in just seconds. However, sometimes reaching that moment can hit a road bump, and that’s when I imagine Michalko’s advice can be helpful!

    Michalko’s description of the Einstein Technique actually reminds me a bit of constructivism, and his rules cross me more as those of all highly functioning teams. It’s not hard to figure out that two heads work better than one. That is why intellectual communities – from our groups in EDIT 752 to the scientific community – so often form to share ideas and collaborate. The “Is Your Idea Crazy Enough?” Technique reminds me a bit of brainstorming. Crazy ideas can be fun, funny, and sometimes genius. The other day I discovered a copy editor that had created creative marketing signs for beggars. They had captions such as, “$50 not accepted after 10PM” and “Checks no longer accepted from the following people:” The copy editor wrote that the beggar had reported his take had increased by more than 800%. I don’t doubt it!

    While the craziest idea might not always work the most effectively, it often can often lead to other ideas. What if the person who thought to send cards to dead people had thought of post secret? It’s not a large leap from sending cards to people who are unable to read them to sending cards to people you don’t really want to read them. In art school, any idea was good to write down simply as fodder for later assignments. Sometimes even jokes between friends turned up in our classes as highly successful projects.

    The exercises were also interesting. The “Remote Associations Test” reminded me a bit of the Word Associations test for Psychology. (I’ve read too much Psych). I like how several of them are just creative thinking practice – such as Can you Spot the Genius? – or riddles. The illusions were an interesting twist. Here are two video illusions I rather enjoy. Perhaps since you liked those listed by Michalko, you might enjoy these also:

    • Hollow Mask Illusion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbKw0_v2clo
    • Ames Window Illusion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tc_LqIaO2b8

  2. I think clients approach all designers in search of creative thinking. Afterall, if it was truly easy, wouldn’t they do it themselves? Moments of creativity (or genius) do not simply occur; they are built by extended, laborious practice. Conducting the research, reading contemporary theory, exploring the problem from multiple sides – hours of these endeavors are the building blocks of that insightful moment that appears to happen in just seconds. However, sometimes reaching that moment can hit a road bump, and that’s when I imagine Michalko’s advice can be helpful!

    Michalko’s description of the Einstein Technique actually reminds me a bit of constructivism, and his rules cross me more as those of all highly functioning teams. It’s not hard to figure out that two heads work better than one. That is why intellectual communities – from our groups in EDIT 752 to the scientific community – so often form to share ideas and collaborate. The “Is Your Idea Crazy Enough?” Technique reminds me a bit of brainstorming. Crazy ideas can be fun, funny, and sometimes genius. The other day I discovered a copy editor that had created creative marketing signs for beggars. They had captions such as, “$50 not accepted after 10PM” and “Checks no longer accepted from the following people:” The copy editor wrote that the beggar had reported his take had increased by more than 800%. I don’t doubt it!

    While the craziest idea might not always work the most effectively, it often can often lead to other ideas. What if the person who thought to send cards to dead people had thought of post secret? It’s not a large leap from sending cards to people who are unable to read them to sending cards to people you don’t really want to read them. In art school, any idea was good to write down simply as fodder for later assignments. Sometimes even jokes between friends turned up in our classes as highly successful projects.

    The exercises were also interesting. The “Remote Associations Test” reminded me a bit of the Word Associations test for Psychology. (I’ve read too much Psych). I like how several of them are just creative thinking practice – such as Can you Spot the Genius? – or riddles. The illusions were an interesting twist. Here are two video illusions I rather enjoy. Perhaps since you liked those listed by Michalko, you might enjoy these also:

    • Hollow Mask Illusion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbKw0_v2clo
    • Ames Window Illusion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tc_LqIaO2b8


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