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Creative thinking programmes (6)

At the Creativity Centre, we have been researching and delivering courses on creativity development for well over 20 years and we especially value informal creativity development which may happen by accident or design in educational institutions, other organisations or everyday life.In this paper, the focus is on four ‘formal’ or ‘deliberate’ creative problem solving programmes:

  • Synectics
  • The Osborn-Parnes Creative Problem Solving Program (CPS)
  • The De Bono programme
  • KJ Ho

These programmes have been selected for review because they are widely used in one or more countries and/or because they have spawned a great many related creative problem solving programmes. Here, the term ‘problem solving’ is used in its psychological sense of ‘resolving anything puzzling or unclear’. This is a key function of all thinking and active learning, equally applicable to creativity in the arts, sciences, humanities and indeed life in general. This psychological notion of ‘a problem’ is different from its everyday definition in that it doesn’t necessarily imply anything negative. The first two programmes are of US origin and have spawned thousands of other programmes. De Bono’s work has had a significant impact too and is probably the best known in the UK, whilst KJ Ho is the most popular formal programme in Japan. All four programmes have specific procedures and terminology and whilst these differ, there are some similarities as well.


Tuesday, 17 December 2019 19:02

Creativity in Japan Today

In Japan, the word ‘creativity’ is often used to refer to the greatest talent and the works of special people such as a great scientist, writer, architect, painter or musician. The number of Nobel Prize winners who are recognised as greatest scientists has increased rapidly during the last 20 years (16 winners). This number is second largest to the US. Why has the number suddenly increased? Several reasons can be inferred. The number of university students has increased rapidly since the 1960s. Many brilliant students who graduated from Japan’s universities then studied in American universities or research institutes and discovered themes connected to the Nobel Prize. After much trial and error, they finally completed these studies. Another reason may be attributed to their dexterity or the ability to think out unusual methods to solve problems in their areas.

The Future Problem Solving Program International (FPSPI) is one of the most popular internationally implemented programs to promote creativity, problem solving, and future interest and orientation in adolescents. However, a recent evaluation of the program found that students reported that they gained other lifetime skills, beyond the program’s goals, in personal, academic, and career experiences (Treffinger, Selby, & Crumel, 2012). But, does the FPSPI help students have accurate perceptions about creativity, and about the concepts of a creative pupil and a creative teacher? It is assumed that having accurate perceptions of creativity fosters a personal investment in creative skills. So, the purpose of this study was to examine the impact of the FPSPI on adolescents' perceptions of creativity and creative people in the school setting. The intervention program was administered to 77 students, who ranged in age from 12 to 17; the control group included 78 students with equivalent characteristics. In pretest and posttest assessment moments, students completed the scale Creativity and School – Perceptions of Students (Morais & Azevedo, 2011), composed of 25 Likert-type items organized into the dimensions of Accurate Perceptions and Erroneous Perceptions about creativity. Results show statistically significant differences between the experimental and the control group for accurate perceptions of creativity, which are favorable to the experimental group. These results are discussed in order to plan future research with the FPSPI, and to consider educational implications.

This paper explains the role of childlike thinking and/or creativity within design thinking, It includes an account of an experiment involving creativity-inducing brainstorming games, inspired by games from childhood (e.g., Brainstorming Musical Chairs, Brainstorming Duck Duck Goose, and Brainstorming Tag You’re It). Read on to discover whether or not the brainstorming games in question lead to increased creativity!

Essential to discovering and cultivating new ideas is the act of extinguishing the sources of old ideas that have failed to inspire solutions. New ideas can then be accessed in territories far removed from old hunting grounds.

‘The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as escaping from old ones’. (Economist, John Maynard Keynes).

At its core, creativity is much less a generative act and far more an act of recognition. This recognition skill lies in the ability to look at something apparently unrelated to a problem and discover there an exciting connecting pathway to a solution.In helping businesses solve difficult and persistent problems, I have discovered that it is not any lack of ideas that prevents even very bright people from finding solutions. Instead, one of the biggest roadblocks to new and creative solutions is not conjuring new ideas but in ridding the brain of those already embedded. As Charles Darwin, who proposed the theory of evolution through natural selection, put it, ‘To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact’.My whole ‘Cruising to Aha’ process mimics Charles Darwin's three-step Natural Selection Process: extinction, mutation, and selection. In his 1859 book, On the Origin of Species, Darwin says, ‘All creatures adapt to an ever-changing world by a process called Natural Selection... As species adapt from generation to generation, nature selects those better able to survive than... their competitors’. This article concerns itself with the first of this three-stage process: extinction.

‘Thunder is good, thunder is impressive, but it is lightning that does the work’
(Mark Twain)


Most people create through the manipulation of mental images. Presented here is a technique to discover appropriate initial images, through a process that can yield fruitful solutions to difficult and persistent problems that refuse to be solved in other ways.

Increasing the number of exciting ideas and solutions you can create, and put to use, is a function of two states: readiness to be inspired, and understanding what it takes to capture inspiration. This article will introduce techniques to help with both the preparation for, and recognition of, great new ideas. When you are inspired, you often feel you are not in full conscious control, but rather are being ‘fed’ ideas from an external source. But there is a rational structure at work underneath inspiration – one that can be understood and mobilized for augmented creative output.

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