Creativity Checklist: 1500 Ideas in 5 Easy Steps

Over a year ago, someone suggested that I read through and incorporate ideas on developing creative thinking based on the following “Creativity Checklist” written by Professor Richard Tabor Greene:

I must admit, this looks very cool… the guy is brilliant… and I still haven’t managed to read it.

As much as I want to read the paper — veritable completist masterpiece that it is — I’m struggling with getting through it.

“Checklist?”  “1500 Variables?”

Storefront, ReykjavikIt reminds me of one of those essays where the author tries to analyze why something is funny.  Humor is like Schrödinger’s Cat… if you look too closely at it, you kill it.  I suspect something similar is going here with this analysis of creativity.   It’s not so much that the list is “un-creative” …it’s just… exhaustively exhaustive.

It’s also chockful of jargon.

I agree that checklists — or any type of list, such as using the sequence of the alphabet — can be used to coax lateral thinking and generate new ideas.   A rigid structure can provide a handrail to unlock playful gestures that might not otherwise manifest… and the power of “variation-on-a-theme” alone is enough to drive many an Internet meme.

However, there is a point where a list (or any formulaic structure) becomes a creativity-killer.   When that list becomes too organized, too instructive, it forces a kind of procedural mindset.

It may be that I was not the intended audience for Prof. Greene’s checklist. Or perhaps I simply need to block out a couple of hours of focused reading time and kill a small tree by printing it out.   Or maybe I just need to draw a picture of the concepts as I read through it?  Or start with what I already know about developing creative capacity and match it against a skim-reading of the list? Yes, I can activate my prior learning in order to jump-starting the pattern-matching/constructivist-learning/jargony-jargonmeister process. Or something.  Hmmm…

In the meantime, here’s a different sort of checklist:

How to Be More Creative in 5 Easy Steps

Wall, ReykjavikA) Set up some arbitrary constraints; see what you can do within those constraints. Good architectural content comes from establishing an architectural context.

B) For a given problem, try multiple tools and materials. This includes physical matter such as pens, pencils, paper and pixels, as well as mental matter such as thinking patterns and questions.

See something, then say something about it. Get a taste for sharpening your observational  and descriptive abilities using all of your senses.. and then go across and combine your senses.

4) Break through the structural brick wall of the arbitrary constraints that you previously set up. Then pick up the fallen bricks, turn them slightly, and extend your metaphor just a bit more.

Eureka.  Now go play.


About danspira

My blog is at: My face in real life appears at a higher resolution, although I do feel pixelated sometimes.

Posted on September 8, 2013, in Architecture, Art, humor, Information Design, Instructional Design, Learning, Metaphors, photography and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Eye sea watt ewe did their

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