Methods against Methods

Methods against Methods

Marc Stierand (NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands) and Viktor Dörfler (University of Strathclyde, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-519-3.ch006


This chapter intends to clarify some issues about the often misunderstood terminology of creativity and innovation methods. Following the train of thought outlined in this chapter, it is argued that neither creativity nor innovation is guided by a method. There are only methods against methods that can help the extraordinary individual to step faster and easier into a state of mind that is conducive to creativity, but which has no effect on whether the creative output becomes an innovation. In order to support this claim, three major reasons that seem to be responsible for making people believe that such methods for creativity and innovation exist are outlined here. Next, the chapter addresses the phenomenon of creativity and continues with a discussion on the systemic character of creativity and innovation. Finally it shows that there are no methods for creativity, but methods against non-creativity by explaining in particular how one of these methods against non-creativity works. What this chapter outlines here is a necessarily one-sided and partial view, aiming not to convince the readers of the correctness of the view, but rather to make them think by presenting one possible consistent approach.
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Creativity And Innovation

Are there steps that, when followed, lead not only to a new idea (i.e. creativity), but also to a successful idea (i.e. innovation)? We do not think that there are, but we think that there are methods against methods that can help the creative individual to step faster and easier into a state of mind that is conducive to creativity. But there is still no connection to innovation, because whether an idea becomes an innovation is not decided by the creative individual, but, as we shall see later, by the perceptive value of this idea.

Outside the academic world innovation is often seen as enigma, as the work of a creative genius or as serendipity. However, this view is mostly dismissed by academics as unscientific, because its validity is very difficult to test. Therefore, academia has created a preference for seeing innovation as a continuous, rational, and purposive process (Nelson & Winter, 1982; Rogers, 1962/2003). Researchers interested in innovation often apply micro perspectives and frequently seem to be lost in thought trying to answer questions of explanation, prediction, and correspondence. This has led to a lack of understanding about the phenomenology of innovation, which we see as the foundation on which any explanation, prediction and correspondence should be built. Moreover, there is still the problem that we have to deal with creativity when we engage with the topic of innovation. Although many researchers acknowledge the link between creativity and innovation, they just close creativity into a black box or go around in circles by trying to blueprint the creative process.

The problem about creativity is that we know it exists, but we do not know how it works. In other words, we do not know what the creative process looks like. We have never seen it. We have only seen the creative product that is the result of a person’s creativity. Another widespread issue is linked to the creative individual. Many people think that everyone can be creative. But if this would be the case, why are there so few Mozart’s and Shakespeare’s? Our Western and postmodern society tends to equate equality with sameness and thereby neglects the creative extraordinariness of a few. Our society does not welcome outliers. In fact, we even cut off these tall poppies, because their talents naturally distinguish them from the rest of us. People can be equal, but they are not the same. Not everyone can paint like Matisse and not everyone can write like Goethe. Even if one could prove that all people start with the same genetic makeup for creativity from birth, not everyone will be able or will have the chance to develop a creative ability that can produce creations of the quality and influence as those of the aforementioned masters.

In order to support our arguments, we are going to outline our understanding of creativity and innovation and show how both phenomena are linked. Based on this outline we focus on the creative individual. We particularly draw on Gardner’s conception of extraordinariness in order to illustrate that creating something new and valuable requires an individual with substantial knowledge and not just the ability to enter a state of mind that is conducive to creativity. Then we expand our discussion to the phenomenon of innovation by showing that innovations are not produced solely by an individual but require the socio-cultural world for validation and co-creation of the new value. At the end we look at de Bono’s work on creativity methods.

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