This week’s book report is on a classic that was originally published in 1940. Too old school for you, creative hipster? Well, it has occupied shelf space on most advertising, PR, and scientific researchers for more than 70 years — because it is a terrific reference that educates and enthuses the truly creative and does so in an amazing 28 pages.
James Webb Young penned A TECHNIQUE FOR PRODUCING IDEAS back in the day when German tanks were rolling on Poland and the second Roosevelt was in the White House.
It was written to assist young copywriters and creative directors at fledgling ad agencies to improve their conceptualization of selling American products. In the foreword, William Bernbach, former chair of the international acclaimed ad giant, Doyle Dane Bernbach, said “Young writes about the creative spark, the ideas, which bring spirit and life to an advertisement. Nothing is more important to the practice of our craft.”
The book offers a simple, five-step formula to increase individual and group creativity at the office or at home. The formula is well thought out, insightful and intuitive. Young, at first, offers the obvious, but, not unlike practicing baseball — you must drill on the basics to master the finesse of the game.
You catch the ball. You throw the ball. You hit the ball.
It sounds so damn simple, yet only a few hundred people on the planet can make a living doing it.
Young’s book should be a mandatory read for every 13 year old student. It stimulates finding creative solutions in life, in labor, and in love.
Forego that reality show tonight. You can slip through this book in about an hour. Then pass it along to a colleague or niece or neighbor.
Let’s make the world a little more creative.
Douglas Arnold, The Ingenuity Guru, is a writer, workshop leader, and speaker on ingenuity, imagination, and creativity. His upcoming book “Ingenuity!” focuses on sparking greater innovation in the workplace and community. His weekly video “Ingenuity180” airs right here on his blog every Thursday, You are invited to follow his blog here and on Twitter @DouglasArnold
In my upcoming book, INGENUITY!, I present a new model of how creativity and ingenuity meld 10 intrinsic elements to achieve innovation and invention.
In a nutshell, inspiration stimulates and drives the individual’s imagination to act. Inspiration can come from a near infinite number of avenues or inputs.
Imagination is an amalgam of five human traits that blend, reform, reduce, expand, stir, simmer, and generally tumble through the mind. The book spends a great deal of time and energy on these five traits. It presents a number of observations on how the traits weave and entwine to examine and evaluate options to innovation.
From this clever brew emerges ideation and incubation — the time it takes to let the recipe ‘cook.’ For some, the creative moment occurs in a nanosecond; for others the moment can take place after incubation of many years.
This moment is the illumination. It is the aesthetic or pragmatic solution that leads to the two products of this entire process: invention and innovation.
I am producing a series of short videos that will expand upon each of the elements in the process. They will be presented here, at no charge or obligation. I hope you will join me each Thursday for these three minute programs entitled INGENUITY180.
I’ll introduce the first next week in Mid-June 2014.
Work progresses on my upcoming book, “INGENUITY!” and I am flattered at all the requests for advance copies.
Recently, I was asked to contrast creativity versus ingenuity. This comes up frequently and, as the masthead speaks above, creativity is only part of innovation.
Creativity has intrigued philosophers and poets for hundreds of years. In the late 1880s, more sophisticated research began on how people create and communicate ideas and thought.
Ingenuity often seemed overshadowed and ignored by the students of the mind who were swept up by the enticing allure of composers and painters. Creativity, with its snap and sizzle, danced and flourished in color and song. It was far more captivating. It was far more seductive.
For most, ingenuity demanded creativity, but creativity did not demand ingenuity. But let’s explore below the veneer.
Creativity is most aligned with human expression in the visual and performing arts. It marries beauty, symbolism, color or sound, weaving words into a magic or light into image. It conveys tragedy, humor, love and luck. It is elegant and electrifying.
Ingenuity is creativity’s distant cousin. It blends process and productivity. It forges metal and shapes stone. Ingenuity connects the living with the machine. If necessity is the mother, ingenuity is father of invention and innovation.
The outcome of creativity is always aesthetic and subject to the senses of the beholder.
The outcomes of ingenuity is always weighed by society as having beneficial social, industrial, financial, or governmental products or processes.
Douglas Arnold, The Ingenuity Guru, is a writer, workshop leader, and speaker on ingenuity, imagination, and creativity. His upcoming book “Ingenuity!” focuses on sparking greater innovation in the workplace and the community. Follow him here and on Twitter @DouglasArnold
Creativity is the child every parent loves to parade with pride.
Create something — anything — and most will display it prominently on a wall, play it on the guitar, dance and sing it loudly. Nearly everyone wants to show off the beauty and joy of the offspring of their imaginatiion.
Ingenuity, however, is overshadowed by it’s step-sister, creativity. Ingenuity is the smart, but brawny, child — the one with a bit of dirt under the fingernail, a bit of sweat on the brow, a callus, and sporting a bit of a scar.
To compare and contrast ingenuity and creativity is confounding. Creativity is difficult to define with precision. On first pass, the eye may not distinguish between the two. But further consideration offers greater definition. Consider the many attempts to define ‘creativity.’
At the turn of the 20th Century, Herman Helmholtz speculated that creativity came from “saturation, incubation, and illumination.” This observation became the foundation for creative study for decades to come.
In 1908, Henri Poincare added verification to the Helmholtz trio. Henri felt is was essential to prove a creative idea through duplication or laboratory replication. It was skewed heavily to scientific creativity.
One of the first modern academic models of creativity was during the Roaring Twenties. Amid jazz music and Art Deco, Graham Wallas offered a four-stage process to define creativity. He published this model in 1926:
PREPARATION – INCUBATION – ILLUMINATION – VERIFICATION
He added INTIMATION between incubation and illumination upon later study.
Not much changed in writings about creativity until 1939, when Young offered his approach to the process:
IMMERSION – DIGESTION – INCUBATION – ILLLUMINATION – VERIFICATION
Teresa Amabile shook things up in 1983 with her four components of creativity theory. She presented a comprehensive model of the social and psychological components need for a person to produce creative work.
This focused on  domain relevant skills,  creative-relevant processes,  intrinsic task movitation, and  the social environment.
Cropley added COMMUNICATION and VALIDATION to the Wallas Model in the late 1990s. Kaufman & Beghetto introduced their fresh approach to the study of creativity with their Four-C model in 2009 — presenting ideas on ‘everyday creativity’ versus ’eminent creativity.’
I contend that ingenuity holds value in the economic and social outcomes that benefit individuals and society beyond the aesthetic or theoretical.
Rarely is ingenuity mentioned or discussed in the works noted above. Ingenuity is the valued outcome or product of creativity. Consider the history of the refinement and mass production of steel.
The creative “ah-ha moment” [illumination] happened in 1851 when William Kelly discovered the process of removing impurities from molten iron by oxidation to create steel. But it took Sir Henry Bessemer to take the concept and create a manner to harness and manage the amount of air injected into the molten pig iron, an ingenious step that revolutionized the manufacture by decreasing its cost, from £40 per ton to £6 per ton. The new process significantly increased the scale and speed of production — making Britain a dominant player in the world market. As well as saving time and expense, the process decreased the labor requirements for steel-making.
Creativity ‘illuminated’ Kelly’s mind leading to discovery; Ingenuity brought the Bessemer furnace to tangible reality changing England — and engineering — forever.
Recently, I was asked what is the difference between ‘creativity’ and ‘ingenuity.’ The similarities are strong, but upon closer examination and interpretation, there are distinctions that bring clarity to the differences.
Looking at Webster, creativity is defined as using the ability to make or think of new things: involving the process by which new ideas, stories, etc., are created. Ingenuity follows as a skill or cleverness that allows someone to solve problems, invent things, etc.
It seems the two are indistinguishable when comparing their dictionary entries. But when you apply the critical and experienced eye of the business executive, the investor, or, the entrepreneur, subtle, yet significant, differences are realized.
An individual can demonstrate creativity in a myriad of ways. It can be in artistic expression — dance, poetry, photography, on stage and screen, painting, sculpting and beyond. Others prove creative in more industrial matters — energy processes, chemistry, physics, marketing, engineering, even in accounting.
Nearly everyone has some level or degree of creativity within them. In most individuals it manifests itself on the artistic side of the equation. Someone has a gift for storytelling or visually arousing imagery on canvas. We smile at the amateur who exhibits at the neighborhood craft fair and marvel at master hanging in the noble museum. We intrinsically recognize most greatness in contrast to simple creative expression. We tolerate sophomoric effort and accept juvenile attempts at creativity, and yet it is still creative. One does not want to squash the emotional and intellectual work that extends to one’s personality, inner voice or soul.
On the other hand, an individual may be creative, but not ingenious.
Ingenuity is weighed differently than creativity in this writer’s eye. Ingenuity has a value system that demands some social or economic benefit be a product of the creative individual or team putting forth a new idea, solution, or conception. The idea or expression must advance the world in ways that are more than just pleasing the the eye and ear, more than satisfaction of the soul. There must be a pragmatic or profitable outcome of the creative expression associated with the ingenious.
Creative people are not necessarily ingenious, while all who are ingenious are creative.
I’ll bring more to the table on this tomorrow.
Ordinary fishing line and sewing thread can be cheaply converted to powerful artificial muscles, an international team led by The University of Texas at Dallas has discovered.
The new muscles can lift 100 times more weight and generate 100 times higher mechanical power than a human muscle of the same length and weight. Per weight, they can generate 7.1 horsepower per kilogram, about the same mechanical power as a jet engine.
In a paper published Feb. 21 in the journal Science, the researchers explain that the powerful muscles are produced by twisting and coiling high-strength polymer fishing line and sewing thread. Scientists at UT Dallas’ Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute teamed with scientists from universities in Australia, South Korea, Canada, Turkey and China to accomplish the advances.
Monofilament fishing line was innovated by DuPont in 1938 very shortly after the company announced the invention of Nylon. This was the first synthetic fiber. Many ideas ‘spun’ around in the heads of the DuPont product development engineers when inspiration struck like a trout in a Colorado spring. Fishing line had been around for millennia; DuPont simply brought Nylon to the fisherman’s tackle box.
Invention is the creation of something new and previously unavailable. Out of imagination and ideation, invention is born.
Innovation is the ‘mashup’ of imagination and ideation with existing or emerging technologies and processes to transform both the tangible and intangible into productive or entertaining results. Fishing Line + Nylon = Monofilament Fishing Line. This innovation is a vast improvement with many benefits over previous cotton or other natural fibers.
This is a great lesson on the difference between invention and innovation.
SOURCE: KURZWEIL NEWSLETTER