Thursday, December 18, 2014

Creativity & Spirituality

By: Rebecca DiLiberto
Graduate Student
International Center for Studies in Creativity
Buffalo State College

Although current research recognizes the existence of multiple types of intelligence (Gardner, 1993/2006), traditionally, cognitive intelligence has been the most valued in western culture. The values embodied by western culture and recent advancements in technology, offering access to information only a keystroke away, may be reasons both the value and capacity of cognitive intelligence continues to reign supreme. There is an imbalance of the types of intelligences in our culture. The quantifiable, concrete and fact driven types of intelligence remain primary while less tangible types of intelligence, such as Spiritual Intelligence (SI), have gone neglected. This mentality, compounded by our pursuit of individual rights and our quest to be the best, has narrowed our perspective on what it means to live a creative life and left us yearning for a sense of purpose. It is no wonder that despite easier and faster access to information, our culture increasingly yearns for a deeper sense of meaning and connection to the world. This cultural intensification of yearning for meaning suggests there is a lack of spirituality. “Spirituality is becoming an important part of life, not only for educators, psychologists, philosophers and scientists, but for countless individuals who want to search for meaning in their lives” (Sisk & Torrance, 2001, p. xi). People in all walks of life appear not only to desire and appreciate a higher level of spirituality, but are eager to learn about how to develop their creativity, enhance their sense of purpose, and connection to the world.           

Sisk and Torrance’s book entitled Spiritual Intelligence: Developing Higher Consciousness, drew upon a variety of topics extending from the foundations of psychology and science to Eastern Mysticism and paths of SI. Sisk and Torrance (2001) identified SI as:

A deep self-awareness in which one becomes more and more aware of the dimensions of self, not simply as a body, but as a mind-body and spirit. When we employ our spiritual intelligence, we reach the extraordinary place in which our mind no longer produces data of the type wanted or needed and the need for intuition becomes accelerated. (p. 8)

Sisk and Torrance highlighted four areas that resonate with the authentic meaning and concept of SI; Inner Knowing, Deep Intuition, Oneness with Nature and the Universe, and Problem Solving. Below is a brief explanation of the four focal areas and approaches that can be investigated further to cultivate SI and creative growth within each.

  • Inner Knowing. “Inner knowing is to know the essence of consciousness and to realize that this inner essence is the essence of all creation” (Sisk & Torrance, 2001, p. 11). Inner Knowing builds our innate capacities of consciousness that are prevalent in creative thinking skills, imagination, intuition, incubation, and dreaming. A parallel between developing Inner Knowing and techniques to enhance deliberate intuition can be found with the intention of unlocking different levels of consciousness. Another important skill to SI, intuition, and Creative Problem Solving (CPS) is the presence of mindfulness. Using mindfulness in CPS allows for a greater self-awareness of physical, emotional, and mental intuition, present in the affective skills, and unites them with the cognitive skills.
  • Deep Intuition. SI assists in overlooking the egotistical self to employ our deep intuition in developing solutions for the greater good (Sisk & Torrance, 2001). Our rational mind can hinder the ability to access higher states of consciousness that transcend true awakening and connections to the Universal mind. To nurture Deep Intuition it is essential to remove the clutter from all levels of consciousness. The benefits of meditation have been significant and are commonly associated with creative and spiritual growth. There are a variety of methods and “in every technique of meditation, the process takes you out of the conditioned mind and opens up access to the nonconditioned mind” (Chopra & Simon, 2004, p. 79). Learning to silence the mind allows for Deep Intuition to connect to an unlimited source of creative power that is guided by the universal greater good.
  • Oneness with Nature and the Universe. SI harmonizes with nature and the world around us to find a purpose in life that is intrinsically motivating (Sisk & Torrance, 2001). To approach life in a creative way, one must seek experiences of spiritual growth. A key component for finding opportunities for growth is inspiration. Inspiration successfully blends SI and creativity with the intention of fostering fulfillment through intrinsic motivation. Applications of self-awareness are just as important as the connectedness with the world around you. Harmonizing your internal journey with your external life will aid in promoting positive change while leading yourself and others in achieving their personal best.
  • Problem Solving. SI guides our life’s purpose and meaning throughout the entire problem solving process (Sisk & Torrance, 2001). Creative spiritual leaders such as, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mother Teresa, understood creativity was an essential part in finding solutions to problems of meaning and value. Creative spiritual leaders exemplify certain essential qualities and skills. In the course of my research, there was one defining quality that stood above the rest; love with intention. Torrance (1995) said, “one of the most powerful wellsprings of creative energy, outstanding accomplishment, and self fulfillment seems to be falling in love with something – your dream, your image of the future” (p. 131). Love nurtures creativity within oneself and others. Our intention allows love and creativity to flourish and extend our meaning and purpose towards a greater good. What’s more, love with intention is a prevalent factor in SI, creativity, and leadership, as well as a quality that will prepare individuals to contribute to world of creativity.
SI is a multisensory ability to maintain one's sense of purpose or inner and outer peace across different contexts and situations (Sisk & Torrance, 2001; Wigglesworth, 2012). The interdependence between SI and creativity share common characteristics. Inner Knowing, Deep Intuition, Oneness with Nature and the Universe, and Problem Solving are representative of SI and concepts that are advantageous to creativity. Therefore, it is reasonable to think that developing one's creativity is quite relevant to developing SI.

Read the entire Master’s project paper in the ICSC Digital Commons

Chopra, D., & Simon, D. (2004). The seven spiritual laws of yoga: A practical guide to healing body, mind, and spirit. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Gardner, H. (2006). Multiple intelligences: New horizons (Rev. ed.). Basic Books.
Sisk, D., & Torrance, E. P. (2001). Spiritual intelligence: Developing higher consciousness. Buffalo, New York: Creative Education Press.
Torrance, E. P. (1995). Why fly?. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing Corporation.
Wigglesworth, C. (2012). SQ 21: The twenty-one skills of spiritual intelligence. New York, NY: SelectBooks

Rebecca DiLiberto holds a Bachelors of Art degree in Art, specializing in design, with a Minor in Computer Applications from SUNY Cortland. She currently is pursuing a Master of Science in Creativity from the International Center for Studies in Creativity (ICSC) at Buffalo State. While exploring her creative potential she has become intrigued on how to promote positive change while leading others in achieving their personal best. Rebecca’s vision is to blend her career experience and passion for creativity to nurture, develop, and support creative behavior, innovation, and leadership.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

TIMizing Springboard: Teaching Creativity to Adults Creatively Using the Torrance Incubation Model

By: Kristen Peterson
Graduate Student
International Center for Studies in Creativity
Buffalo State College

This Master’s project describes the ways in which the Torrance Incubation Model (TIM) was used to enhance the Springboard into Creative Problem Solving (CPS) course. Springboard is the introductory course that has been taught at the Creative Problem Solving Institute (CPSI) for over sixty years.  The finished project includes development of a turnkey Springboard program that includes instructional design, course materials, and a communication campaign that overlays the Torrance Incubation Model (TIM) on how the Springboard program was taught and delivered at the CPSI 2014 Conference.

TIM was used to enhance the experiential nature of the Springboard course. The Heightening the Anticipation stage was to help participants come ready, prepared and motivated to learn. The Deepening Expectations stage was to deliver a more deliberate participatory immersion into the exploration of CPS. The Extending the Learning stage was to motivate participants to keep on learning both during and after the Springboard program (Keller-Mathers & Murdock, 2002).

Current teaching at CPSI is based on and has evolved from the teaching philosophies of our founders and historical pioneers Alex Osborn and Sid Parnes. Osborn founded theCreative Education Foundation (CEF) in 1954 and launched the CreativeProblem Solving Institute (CPSI). Parnes joined him the next year and became a guiding force for both CEF and CPSI. Parnes was named director of the CPSI in 1956. With Ruth Noller, he also established what is now called the International Center for Studies in Creativity at SUNY Buffalo State paving the way for its Master’s Degree Program in Creative Studies and this Master’s project. After Osborn died in 1966, Parnes published the Creative Behavior Guidebook (Parnes, 1967a) and the Creative Behavior Workbook (Parnes, 1967b). These works encapsulated the many years of learning by Osborn, Parnes, and their many associates.

In parallel, one of their colleagues, E. Paul Torrance, a prolific creativity researcher and author, conceived what has become known as the Torrance Incubation Model (TIM) (Torrance, 1979). Torrance’s Model served as a guideline to develop instructional materials and learning activities for teachers that would facilitate creative thinking before, during, and after a lesson (Torrance, 1979).  

The introductory course at CPSI—Springboard—as it was named in 1979, evolved over time. From the 1980’s until 2005, there was no established instructional design. Rather, leaders assigned to teach the course were matched up into teaching teams when they arrived at CPSI. These leaders then spent the next few days developing their course design. The participant experience during these years varied depending on the knowledge, skill and dynamics of the leader teams. Since 2005, efforts have been made to ensure greater consistency in the creativity content taught and how the learning experience is delivered. This project will take it to the next level.

My personal motivation and passion for this project stemmed from my experience as a Springboard participant in June 2000. My aunt, a long-time CPSI leader, persuaded me to attend. Quite bluntly, my Springboard experience was a train wreck. I was in a class being taught by four first-time leaders as part of an experimental program called SpringLab. I can still vividly recall our first CPS process run-through using the challenge “How might I enter my fat dachshund in the dog Olympics.” Somehow despite this disappointing course, I connected to the broader CPSI experience, and my desire to learn more was kindled. I continued to take courses at CPSI at both the winter and summer conferences and upon completing the required courses was invited to be a Springboard leader in 2004. Though I’d completed all of the required courses, I really didn’t begin to know how to teach CPS to others. Fortunately, I was teamed with two exceptional, experienced leaders who trained me on the job.

Never forgetting my own train wreck experience, I’ve made it my personal mission to ensure greater quality in how and what we teach. However, what was still missing from my Springboard teaching experience was the ability to make the learning stick. 

In May 2013, an envelope arrived at my home with an assortment of brightly colored 5 x 7 sheets of paper with timelines. This was part of a Heighten Anticipation activity for the upcoming course in 560 Foundations of Creative Learning, a graduate course at the International Center for Studies in Creativity (ICSC). This was the start of my introduction to E. Paul Torrance and the Torrance Incubation Model of teaching creativity. Like many graduate students before me, I quickly fell in love with Torrance and TIM. This course was a transformational experience for me in how to teach creatively. I immediately started to think about ways to apply this new learning to how we teach at CPSI.

Application of the Torrance Incubation Model overlay was a solid first-year effort, and it created a foundation for further enhancement in how we teach creativity more creatively in the Springboard program and across all CPSI programs.  

In his Creative Manifesto, Torrance (1983) advised on the importance of falling in love with something. Perhaps the greatest joy of this project has been the opportunity to immerse myself and fall in love with the writings and teachings of Parnes and Torrance.  

To extend your learning, read the entire Master’s project paper in Digital Commons at

Keller-Mathers, S. & Murdock, M. C. (2002, Fall). Teaching the content of creativity using the Torrance Incubation Model: Eyes wide open to the possibilities of learning. National Association of Gifted Children’s Celebrate Creativity, 12(2), 7-9.
Parnes, S. (1967a). Creative behavior guidebook. New York, NY: Scribner.
Parnes, S. (1967b). Creative behavior workbook. New York, NY: Scribner.
Torrance, E. P. (1979). An instructional model for enhancing incubation. Journal of Creative Behavior, 13 (1), 23-35.
Torrance, E.P. (1983). The importance of falling in love with “something”. Creative Child and Adult Quarterly. 8(2), 72-78.  

Kristen Peterson is a creativity and innovation facilitator, trainer, coach and catalyst. She is a founding partner of kpCatalyst, on the Board of Directors of Facilitators Without Borders, a founder of Mindcamp, the Director of the Creative Problem Solving Institute (CPSI) and is currently studying toward a Master of Science in Creativity at SUNY Buffalo State College. She can be reached at and

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Creativity Is Hard Work: These 8 Steps Can Help!

A book review by: Mattia Miani
Buffalo State College

zig zag: the surprising path to greater creativity

Keith Sawyer is a well-known name to anyone serious in the study of creativity. With an unconventional background that includes a stint as a video game designer and another as a jazz pianist, Sawyer is more than just a scholar; he is someone who has embraced creativity in his own life.

This makes the publication of Zig Zag, a book that promises to offer “a science-backed method to maximize creative potential in any sphere of life” (as stated in the blurb), not just the publishing of another self-help manual. Unlike Sawyer’s previous Explaining Creativity, which was catering to an academic audience, the purpose of this book is to reach out to anyone interested in creativity and offer to the novice reader a “creativity trainer” to improve his or her creativity skills.

To do so, Sawyer embarked on an extensive “highlight the essence” exercise. As he explains, the book not only distils his 20 plus years of experience as an educational psychologist and creativity researcher, but it is also the result of a yearlong reading exercise during which Sawyer tried to read a great quantity of popular creativity books (pretty much aiming at his same goal) and find what they had in common. In other words, Sawyer is after the essence of creativity.

Looking at the end notes shows the breath of the references behind the text. You can find recent books such as Burstein’s Spark: How creativity works (2011) or Linkner’s Disciplined dreaming (2011), staples such as Foster’s How to get ideas (2007), and the classics from the Sixties by Parnes, Osborn, Gordon just to name a few.  Notwithstanding this variety, Sawyer tries to stick to what is scientifically proven through research and practice.

The main outcome of this exercise is the identification of 8 steps that characterize the creative process. Sawyer’s 8 steps are Ask, Learn, Look, Play, Think, Fuse, Choose, and Make.  Everyone familiar with one or more existing creativity methods will not be surprised by a process approach broken down in steps. These particular steps can be easily mapped onto the phases offered by other methods such as Creative Problem Solving, Synectics, or Possibility Thinking. Making a parallel with CPS, ask, learn and look find a counterpart in assessing the situation and clarification steps; play and think are eminently examples of divergent thinking (ideation). Fuse and choose represent convergence (develop), while make is clearly implementation.

Why “zig zag” as the title? The reason is that similarly to other models, Sawyer does not suggest to necessarily go through the 8 steps in a linear fashion: the steps are highly iterative and the process can be initiated at any stage. This makes the path to creativity a non linear one, a zig zag.

The main idea behind the model is encapsulated in this statement: “Creativity did not descend like a bolt of lightning that lit up the world in a single, brilliant flash. It came in tiny steps, bits of insight, and incremental changes.”

Sawyer’s down to earth philosophy is also summarized by a quotation by artist Chuck Close that he repeats twice in the book (the second time at the end): “Inspiration is for amateurs, and the rest of us just show up and get to work.”

What does a chapter look like? Each chapter briefly presents the main idea with the aid of some vivid stories. Then a number of practices aimed at implementing the step are presented. Each practice is further broken down into specific recommendations. For example, the chapter on learn opens with a brief discussion of the concept of deliberate practice, then it presents three main practices to enhance our learning ability: practice deliberately, master your domain and learn forever. In the paragraph dedicated to master your domain we find specific recommendations such as get schooled, go for deeper understanding, apply what you know to new situations.

This structure is faithfully applied to every chapter discussing the eight steps, and makes the book highly structured. As Sawyer himself suggests, zig zag can also be a good approach to reading the book. A cover to cover reading could leave many unsatisfied since it is difficult to digest the incredible amount of information and ideas compressed in the 200 and so pages of the book.

So, is the book worth reading? The answer may change, depending whether we take into account a novice or an expert reader.

For someone new to the field of creativity the book is a gold mine. While sometimes it can get a bit dull (especially in the long enumeration of specific creativity techniques), overall it makes a great crash introduction to applied creativity offering practical recommendations and a realistic method to live a more creative life.

To be fair, the book is targeting lay people and not scholars. However the question remains whether the book may be useful also to more experienced practitioners or educators. For someone who is already familiar with the literature on creativity and might have read a few of the sources of the book, the path indicated in the book might not be so surprising. Most of the stories are not new; creativity scholars have heard the story of the birth of the Post-it notes in every imaginable form.

Personally, I have been delving into the literature on creativity over the past three years (admittedly not a long time) and I was already familiar probably with two thirds of the content of the book. However there was still one third of the content that was new to me and showed the effort of Sawyer to collect little gems from a diverse array of sources. I have even found inspiration from one of the chapters in developing a team building activity. One might argue that an expert reader might easily skim through the pages of the book and still find precious ideas thanks to Sawyer’s highlighting the essence exercise.

In conclusion, Zig Zag is a welcomed addition to the repertoire of creativity manuals aimed at the general public, with the merit of not trying to reinvent the wheel, but rather trying to capture the essence of more than fifty years of research and discussion in the field.  

Keith Sawyer.  Zig zag: The surprising path to greater creativity. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass, 2013. 

About Mattia Miani:  

Mattia Miani, originally from Italy, is a manager executive education in an international University in Vietnam. In 2014 he received The Firstien Family Creativity Achievement Award from the International Center of Studies in Creativity for his training work in Asia.

**Looking for more books on creativity? Visit the ICSC Amazon Bookstore

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Review of The Business Playground

A book review by: David Eyman
Buffalo State College

The business playground
Sweet dreams are made of this creative joy!  The Business Playground is an enjoyable, easy-to-read collection of creativity stories and tools designed to help readers in promoting creative thinking.  This book speaks mainly to business-professionals, yet would be beneficial for the layperson or creativity-curious reader.  In twelve unique chapters (235 pages) the authors have conveyed much of the current thinking on both innate and prompted creativity in an entertaining and playful way.  Each chapter holds a creativity game that embodies a thinking tool, and readers are invited to read the book as if playing a board game.  “Move one space forward to the next chapter… or roll the dice” (Stewart & Simmons, 2010, p. 149) demonstrates how the authors have integrated the playful nature of creativity into both the big picture and details of presented materials.    

Authors Mark Simmons, a branding expert, and Dave Stewart, a musician who achieved fame through his partnership with Annie Lennox in The Eurythmics, prove their outstanding ability to entertain throughout the book.  Although The Business Playground is a non-fiction reference book, it sometimes reads more like fiction with richly decorated stories and metaphorical language.  More specifically, there is a casual undertone that rises above the sterility present in some scholarly books on creativity.  While this tone may feel a bit pedestrian at first glance, the work is cited and referenced adequately to validate that the recommended tools have been built atop credible, if not academic, frameworks.

In its entirety, the book is a game about bringing creative thinking to business through fun.  Tools and stories presented in the book are designed to make a case for how “play” in business will yield more creative thinking.  In the introduction, Simmons and Stewart assert, “Most businesses just aren’t designed for creativity.  Instead, they tend to be efficient machines with established processes, systems, and rules that allow little flexibility for the more unstructured thought that is necessary for ideas to form and flourish” (p. Xv).  The Business Playground is a direct reaction to this statement with a solid case for change, tools that inspire change, and stories of successful integration.

The authors present each section as a board game space that allows the reader to find tools appropriate to what they are confronting in the moment.  With chapter titles such as “Idea Spaghetti,” “Left Brain, Meet Mr. Right,” “Far Out,” “Kill the Idea,” and “Blast Off,” perusing each game tile is consistent with the spirit of fun the authors are promoting.  Inside each chapter is a smaller set of games that spur new thinking, help develop ideas, and help the reader with solution selection. 

Chapter one builds a solid case for creative thinking based on stories and experiences.  Chapters two through ten offer playful methods for ideational thinking through tools that have been taken from other processes and redesigned in the spirit of fun.  Chapter eleven offers methods of selecting ideas, convergent thinking, and refinement with tools such as “Kill the Idea”, and “What I See Myself Doing."  Chapter twelve describes constructing a creative environment and planning for successful implementation of selected ideas.  In sum, The Business Playground covers all stages of the creative process with the overlay of playfulness, humor, and fun.

Some of the tools presented in The Business Playground can be readily recognized as spirited adaptations of other tools from other creative process methodologies: brainstorming, storyboarding collaging, several variations on forced connections, incubation, excursions, reframing, and far too many others to list here.  The results of careful attention to adding a play element to each tool is useful in bringing the playground to work.  In addition to the classic proven techniques, Stewart and Simmons bring a bit of themselves to this extensive list of creativity tools.  They make a case for the foundations that support these tools with rich and colorful personal stories.  To support the importance of humor in the workplace, Stewart describes creatively resolving a film director’s frustrated block with:  “I went out of the studio, put on a woman’s dress and earrings, burst back into the studio and insisted on dancing with Paul” (Stewart & Simmons, 2010, p. 171).

While the reader can appreciate the overlay of lightness and playfulness, an occasional undertone of ego emerges as the authors parade their life histories.  In one instance, Stewart avows that a defibrillator led him to even greater creative ability: “Actually, dying and being brought back to life was like being plugged into an electric socket that pumps creative energy into your veins”  (Stewart & Simmons, 2010, p. 162). Regardless, Stewart and Simmons have a credible history of creative accomplishments, that which gives them every right to flaunt their creativity skills and suggest methods with which to work.  Without peppering the book with tales of their greatness, we may not give nearly the credence due to such a casually and playfully written work.  This tone is truly successful in engaging the reader, despite the few eye-rolling swaggers.

Books on the topics of innovation and creativity in the workplace have become plentiful in the past decade.  For anyone seeking a light methodology or one wishing to integrate more fun into their work, The Business Playground is an easy- to- read and easy- to- integrate book selection.  Above that reasoning, those who loved Eurythmics music will certainly find this as a welcome addition to their knowledge of induced creativity practice through the memorability of Stewart’s name alone. 

Stewart, D., & Simmons, M. (2010). The business playground: Where creativity and commerce collide. Berkeley, CA: New Riders.

About David Eyman: 
David Eyman is a seasoned creativity practitioner, consultant, and facilitator.  With 25 years of creative endeavors ranging from Industrial Design leadership, consumer product innovation, and executive coaching for creative professionals, David has a unique three-dimensional understanding of the processes that generates authentic innovation.  David holds a holds a Bachelor of Science, Industrial Design degree from the University of Cincinnati, and is pursuing a Masters of Science in Creative Studies at the ICSC at SUNY, Buffalo State campus.  

**Looking for more books on creativity? Visit the ICSC Amazon Bookstore

Monday, September 22, 2014

Jugaad Innovation: A frugal and flexible approach to innovation for the 21st century

A book review by: Celia Pillai
Buffalo State College

Jugaad Innovation

What lessons on innovation can a small-time potter from rural India have for global corporations? Plenty, says the business book by Radjou, Prabhu & Ahuja called Jugaad Innovation: A frugal and flexible approach to innovation for the 21st century. ‘Jugaad is a colloquial Hindi (a widely spoken language in India) word that roughly translates to an innovative fix; an improvised solution born from ingenuity and cleverness’ (p.4). Using extensive examples from emerging and mature markets, the authors propose that organizations everywhere can and should learn from jugaad. The book builds on business paradigms focused on emerging markets like fortune at the bottom of the pyramid (Prahlad, 2005), frugal innovation and reverse innovation (Immelt, Govindarajan & Trimble, 2009).

The introduction starts with a remarkable example of jugaad by Mansukh Prajapati, a potter from Gujarat in India. Mitticool is a fridge made of clay, costs a tiny fraction of a conventional fridge, requires no electricity, is 100% biodegradable and produces zero waste! Essentially, Jugaad is ‘a unique way of thinking and acting in response to challenges…of spotting opportunities in the most adverse circumstances and resourcefully improvising solutions using simple means. Jugaad is about doing more with less.’ (p.5). It is in contrast to the structured innovation model which ‘is designed to deliver more with more – that is, firms charge customers a hefty premium for over-engineered products that are expensive to develop and produce’ (p.10). Whereas Jugaad solves the core problem with a good enough solution and is ‘bottoms-up, improvisational, fluid and collaborative while working within a framework of deep knowledge’ (p.24). Among the many examples in the book are that of some major corporations like GE, 3M, P&G, Facebook, Tata and Pepsi.
The core essence of the book are the six key principles distilled from studying jugaad innovations across countries, industries and organizations:
  1. Seek Opportunity in Adversity
  2. Do more with Less
  3. Think and Act Flexibly
  4. Keep it Simple
  5. Include the Margin
  6. Follow your Heart

The bulk of the book expands on these principles dedicating a chapter to each. Chapters begin by describing the principle in action. For example, chapter Principle Four: Keep it Simple starts with Dr. Sathya Jeganathan’s (a pediatrician in rural India) minimalist incubator. Made using inexpensive local material, it costs less than 1/100th of a high-tech, high-end imported one. Yet it serves the core need – it keeps babies warm. Having drastically lowered the infant mortality rate in her hospital, it is now being scaled for wider use. Each chapter further delves on the principle highlighting relevant aspects of business climate, followed by recommendations to apply it and ending with an example of a major corporation’s success with it. The low-cost electrocardiogram-in-a-backpack by GE healthcare in India is a great example cited of a large corporation’s ability to include the margin through jugaad innovation.

The concluding chapters are on integrating jugaad into organizations and building jugaad nations. The authors caution that jugaad should not replace structured innovation but is ‘a useful complement to this approach’ (p.220). The companion website ( has visuals, examples and information on jugaad.
The central concept of the book is fascinating - human ingenuity in the face of scarcity is a phenomenon prevalent for ages across nations and cultures. It has a simple, easy-to-follow structure and is sprinkled with examples throughout, bringing alive the underlying dynamics of jugaad and its applications to organization. To date, this is the most comprehensive book on the subject and has helped bring the topic into mainstream business discussions.

It is interesting to note that the six principles squarely bring back the focus on creativity as the foundation for innovation (e.g. Amabile, 1988, 1996; Bharadwaj & Menon, 2000). All the principles are important aspects of creativity and related attributes of a creative person. For example, principle 1 and 2, Seek Opportunity in Adversity and Do more with Less, relate to the concept of constraints as an enabler to creativity (e.g. Finke, Ward, & Smith, 1992; Stokes, 2005). Principle 3, Think and Act Flexibly is cognitive flexibility, an essential creativity skill (e.g. Guilford, 1967; MacKinnon, 1978). Principle 4, Keep it Simple, reminds one of De Bono’s book called Simplicity (1998). It is the ability to break down complexity and focus on what is essential – the skill to Highlight the Essence (Torrance & Safter, 1999). Principle 5 Include the Margin is about serving marginal segments of the market, which uses the creativity skill to extend the boundaries (Torrance & Safter, 1999) of thinking and acting. Principle 6, Follow your Heart, connects to affect, empathy, intuition and their relationship to creativity (Barron, 1969, 1988; Burnett & Francisco, 2013; MacKinnon, 1978). Perhaps, these are the most critical creativity skills in jugaad innovators. Drawing a parallel, there are related dimensions of organizational creativity that support jugaad innovation.

Though the book is an easy read, it gets repetitive at times. Also, the study of jugaad innovations is based on anecdotal observations and lacks academic rigor and scientific enquiry. Given jugaad’s low priority for sophistication, some examples like 3M’s focus on visual appeal or Steve Job’s perfectionism in design don’t sound aligned to the fundamental notion of jugaad. Adding a few actionable tools and frameworks to help organizations diagnose and implement jugaad would have added depth to generic recommendations like ‘redesign the entire organization around simplicity’ (p.144).

Overall, as a first comprehensive study of jugaad, the book is worth a read for anyone interested in innovation. It brings forth a powerful concept of innovation - one that is frugal, flexible and humane. Jugaad has its share of critics, who argue that it is a short-term, work-around and non-scalable approach. Either ways, the buzz on jugaad is here to stay and it will be interesting to see its implementation and impact on organizations in times to come.

Radjou, N., Prabhu, J., & Ahuja, S. (2012). Jugaad innovation: A frugal and flexible approach to innovation for the 21st century. New Delhi: Random House India.

About Celia Pillai:Celia is a consultant, facilitator and trainer in the areas of creativity, innovation and strategy for organizations and institutions. She is also an associate of Tirian in India. Celia brings a diverse set of credentials and experiences, including design, strategy, management and creativity. Celia has a PGDM/MBA from Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Indore, India and B.Arch (Bachelor of Architecture) from Bangalore University, India. She is a graduate of the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State College, NY where she is also a candidate for an MS in Creativity and Change Leadership. She is based out of Chennai in India.

Buy Jugaad Innovation on Amazon

**Looking for more books on creativity? Visit the ICSC Amazon Bookstore

Friday, September 12, 2014

inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity

A book review by: Gaia Grant
Managing Director of Tirian International
Buffalo State College


Tina Seelig is truly inGenius, and her recent publication in the field of creativity which bears this title is testament to that!

Tina has come to the field from an unusually eclectic background. Starting with a medical Ph.D. in neuroscience, Seelig moved into engineering, management consultancy, and multi-media production before deciding to focus on the area of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. Perhaps not surprisingly, she has written books on a range of different topics, including popular science books on the chemistry of cooking, practical books on neuroscience designed to develop the brain, and a book of advice for young people on how to prepare for professional life. She certainly has an appropriately broad range of experiences to draw from in her current role.

Seelig is now Professor of the Practice in the Department of Management Science and Engineering (MS&E) at Stanford University, the executive director of the Stanford Technology Ventures program (STVP), and the director for the National Center for Engineering pathways. As well as teaching on creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship at the Department of Management Science and Engineering, she also teaches at the well-known Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (also known as the at Stanford. Seelig is a popular teacher who has been awarded for her ingenuity in the classroom and excellence in teaching.

inGenius, Seelig’s latest book, was her first popular work specifically focused on the creativity and innovation domain. The subtitle refers to the book as ‘a crash course on creativity’, and the resource does indeed provide a brief but illuminating overview of the area. What is most appealing about the book is that as you read it you feel like you have been invited to sit in as an observer of some of Seelig’s classes. There are plenty of interesting personal anecdotes from Seelig’s personal and professional life, along with a number of fascinating case studies. What is especially fascinating is that she also describes the sorts of unique exercises that she has devised to help teach about creativity. The result is a smooth flow of practical ideas delivered in a conversational style that draws in the reader in. The narrative interweaves both solid theoretical foundations and useful applicable ideas on how to develop creativity.

Even the title itself is ingenious! Seelig explains that she chose the title to reflect the fact that, “we each have creative genius waiting to be unlocked”. She goes on to explain how the word ingenius actually comes from the Latin word, ingenium, which refers to a natural capacity or innate talent. She asserts that we don’t need to look outside of ourselves to find creative inspiration (like the ancient Greeks), but rather that we all have the inherent ability to be creative. She is adamant that creativity can be taught and developed, just as muscles can be developed through exercise.

After introducing her philosophy on creativity as an accessible and limitless renewable resource (she says, “Ideas aren’t cheap at all – they’re free!”) and touching on the fact that our brains are wired for creative thinking, Seelig compares creative methods to scientific methods and concludes that creative thinking best applies when you want to invent rather than discover. She then goes on to introduce her unique model of creativity, which includes the ‘inside’ factors of Knowledge, Attitude and Imagination – along with the ‘outside’ factors of Resources, Habitat and Culture. The ‘inside’ factors are those that apply at the individual level, while the ‘outside’ factors apply at the organisation environmental level.

Having read a number of books in the field of creativity, I discovered that some of the stories and content were not original, which I would have hoped for in a book like this. Although designed as a ‘crash course’, I also came away with the impression that the overview was just too brief, and that a number of areas were touched on that could have benefitted from much deeper exploration. Also, a number of areas that I think are also important to creativity were omitted. Although there were some vague references to creative thinking skills, for example, there was no clear link to the model. This meant that although there was a general framework for approaching creative thinking, there wasn’t a specific guide on how to actively develop it. Some of the four Ps of creativity (Person, Product, Process and Press) are alluded to, but not all are covered consistently, which made it feel like the content was a little patchy.

Seelig says herself that she came up with the model after writing the main content of the book, and unfortunately that is the way it feels as you read the book. It feels as if the model is an after-thought, as if it is somewhat forced on the content, and it isn’t always a comfortable fit. I would like to have seen the main content of the book more clearly linked to the model as the book progresses so that the connections and theoretical flow is clearer.

Having said that, if the book was designed to be an introduction to the field and merely to incite interest and motivation it achieved this purpose very well. The model that Seelig introduces is definitely useful, and I found that the structure of the model (which shows an intimate interrelationship between the ‘inside’ and the ‘outside’ factors that impact creativity) quite fascinating. I was drawn to the book originally for this interesting integrated approach to the internal and external factors, and I will certainly draw from the model in my own work on how to build a constructive culture for creative thinking and innovation.

inGenius is a compact, accessible and easy-to-read book that would no doubt appeal to a broad audience, and particularly business people, who are interested to find out how creativity can apply in their lives and in their work. For the more learned reader in the field, there are still plenty of useful ideas and anecdotes that should inspire thoughtful reflection and motivation for action. The book is a valuable addition to the literature.

 Seelig, T. (2012). inGenius: A crash course on creativity. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

About Gaia Grant
Gaia Grant is the co-Founder and Managing Director of Tirian International, an organizational learning and development consultancy which specialises in organization innovation and transformation ( ). Gaia is also the author of a number of books (including Who Killed Creativity?... And How Can We Get It Back?; Seven essential strategies for making yourself, your team and your organization more innovative (Jossey Bass, 20120) ). She regularly contributes to international publications and has featured on international radio and TV and in several international news and business journals. Some of Gaia’s clients have included: BASF, Deutsche Bank, Four Seasons Hotels, Fuji Xerox, IFC World Bank, JP Morgan, Baker & McKenzie, Newmont Mining, Optus, and Visa.

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