You have always been creative. And so have I. As you are a reader of The International Journal of Creativity and Human Development, you already know that.
I know that you are creative because everyone is. And I know that because every one of us has been a child. And all children are creative. We are all born with the ability to create, (Picasso spent a great deal of time trying to return to drawing in the way that children draw.) it is part of being human, but as we travel through life, it gets knocked out of us, or suppressed, so that most of us reach the stage where we believe that we are no longer creative. That is not so.
Caroline and I first met George Prince in the middle of a New England railway track (he collected us from a station halt). Welcoming us into his home, he told us about the origins of Synectics and his then latest project, MindFree. With its powerful use of metaphor, Synectics had long intrigued us, but at that time we knew very little about it apart from reading Bill Gordon's book, Synectics, so we were grateful for the opportunity to meet one its founders.
This book is dedicated to the work of George Prince who co-founded Synectics Inc. with his colleagues, William J. J. Gordon, Dick Sperry and Carl Marden. Synectics is a powerful means of developing creativity which was first described by Bill Gordon in his book, Synectics: The Development of Creative Capacity, published in 1960 in New York by Harper & Row.
Our research began in 1958 and by 1960 we believed we knew enough about the creative process to start our own invention company, Synectics, Inc. In addition to inventing products to develop ourselves, we offered a service called a Problem Innovation Laboratory. When a company wanted a new product, service, process, or had a serious problem, we asked it to bring the relevant people to our laboratory. Over a two and a half day period we facilitated meetings in which they solved their own problem.
As the world has become more and more complex, the concern with creativity has increased (Runco, 2004). How can we improve our creative thinking abilities? Adams (1974) proposed that the process of consciously identifying conceptual blocks was essential for overcoming them and improving the ability to think creatively. A considerable number of studies have been conducted on factors that influence creativity. According to a review by Batey and Furnham (2006), much research has been directed to relationships between creativity, intelligence and personality. Moreover, studies have been conducted from diverse perspectives, such as motivation, affect, cognitive capacity, the social environment, culture and neurology (for reviews, see Hennessey & Amabile, 2010; Runco, 2004).
Gerard is a trainer, writer and researcher specialising in creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation. He was awarded the first Onians Creativity Fellow by the RSA (the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) for which he undertook research into the characteristics, motivations and barriers to success of young entrepreneurs in the UK. During this fellowship he conducted qualitative interviews with 44 young entrepreneurs many of whom were close to the start of their ventures. He repeated the interviews three years later to examine the challenges of sustaining and growing a venture in the UK and now, ten years on, he is looking to interview the entrepreneurs again to consider how well the UK supports ventures in the longer term.
He runs workshops on ideation, creative thinking and enterprising thinking and is currently developing a training programme on ‘Getting Ideas to Fly’.
He has written a number of booklets for young people on making ideas happen including The Little Book for Big Ideas, Dare to Dream and Get Connected.
His Sideways Thinking blog can be found here: http://sideways-thinking.blogspot.com/
A recent talk he gave on BBC Radio 4 on creativity in education can be heard here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01b1g9l