Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Tree Falls in the Woods -- a model of creativity

I am sometimes surprised by peoples notions of what it means to be creative. Many years ago I did quite a bit of research on approaches for identifying or defining authenticity and creativity. I used three models that I like a lot -- one was a model that I developed based on genetic evolution, the second was a model I adapted from Jungian psychology and the third was this from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's book on creativity...

While I found value in all three models I ended up using the model that I adapted from genetic evolution. Looking back on it now I think I would need to change it just a little bit as I think the trajectory is probably not so straight forward. But being lazy I'm just going post what I had at the time...

I don't feel that I ever fully developed the model that I attempted to adapt from Jungian psychology. I used ideas from Jung's model of archetypes. Looking back on my files from that period of my life it just looks like a big mess now. So, I won't share it here. But, perhaps I will revisit it someday.  

Even though my obsession with the evolutionary model persists, I still like the Csikszentmihalyi model quite a bit. Reading a new article today "Examining Types of Knowledge Claims Made in Design Research" by my friend Jordan Beck and Erik Stolterman reminded my of that model... I think that a "knowledge claim" might be viewed as a form of creativity and so I post :)   In fact I re-made the model today as I was inspired by Beck's article.

If a tree falls in the woods and no one is allowed to witness it -- does it make a sound? You are the tree. If you don't at least attempt to share the insights from your research... are they really insights? You yourself may know that they are valuable insights and that is all fine and good. But, if you take them with you to the grave then the good that you have done is limited. Some people I respect do "research" through the things that they create. They make beautiful and/or compelling artifacts. They share those artifacts with the world. But, they never share with the rest of us the things that they learned along the way. I honestly feel a little robbed because of that. I think that the Csikszentmihalyi's model hints at the idea that there is value in sharing your idea, innovation or creativity.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Systems, Perspectives and Maps

When you look at a system
the perspective you examine it from
can make all the difference.

Below are 3 maps.
They all are essentially made up of the same set of "nodes."

But the meaning is radically different for each one
due to a simple shift of perspective...

Changes to the structure of a map can shift the meaning of the map...

 Changes to the structure of the map can help us to understand the system in different ways...

maps from "Learning How to Learn" -- Novak J.D., Gowin D.B.

What all of this means from a design perspective is important. Often we map a system from only one perspective. If we think about the system in a more elastic way we can generate insights that we might otherwise miss entirely. Including someone on your design team who thinks visually and is a systems-thinker can push this exercise in ever more interesting directions.  See the maps and models of the Dubberly Design Office.