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Regimented Creativity and Innovation is a Thing!

Doing exercises to become more creative

Much has been said about artists producing works of creative genius despite, or even, on account of extreme states. Such states could include:

– Drug-induced, like Samuel Taylor Coleridge's opium-induced writing of Kubla Khan

– Physiological disorders or sicknesses, like van Gogh's tinnitus

– Mental disorders, as is said of Ludwig van Beethoven, who was alleged to be bipolar.

These are often said to be contributing factors to the artist's genius. They most certainly have contributed to the mythology and persona of said individual.

Notwithstanding these conditions, there is a new school of thought, that is ushering in a new age of creativity. It looks at creativity as an activity that doesn't spring forth from polaric states: fury, passion, pain... rather it emerges from regimented and methodological exercises aimed to boost alternative/original thinking. Not sexy at all, right? Regimented creativity born from drills and exercises – who knew? Funny thing is, it seems to work.

Do the following exercise - alone or with a friend. By the way, the more the merrier.

– Give yourself 5 minutes on the clock

– Take a single universal issue like traffic, pollution, or the cost of living

– Brainstorm ideas to solve or alleviate these issues

How many did you come up with?


– Give yourself 3 minutes on the clock

– Take the same idea

– If you came up with 3 solutions in the previous exercise, set yourself a goal to double or triple that in the next 3 minutes.

Remember, no idea is stupid, small or inconsequential. It doesn't matter if the idea is not realistic because of real constraints like budget or resources, or because moving to another planet in order to escape the high cost of living is currently not an option. Everything counts. How many did you come up with this time? I'll bet you reached your goal.

Want to try one last time? This time, try to really focus on something very specific. If you chose an issue like pollution, now hone in on a particular aspect:

– pollution in your neighborhood

– recycling in your kid's school

– how pollution affects ocean life

Or if you feel ready, choose a very specific and personal pain point on some other topic altogether. I, for instance, would love for there to be an invention of a new type of umbrella: an completely original alternative. An umbrella that doesn't turn inside out, or rip apart in the wind, an umbrella that I don't even need to hold in my hands...

Discuss the particular challenges that your topic raises. Discuss it from your perspective, but also from the perspective of different types of users. What would a hands-free umbrella look like when it is held by a child, or a person with very broad shoulders, how about a businessperson on her way to a meeting?

As before, brainstorm solutions, set time constraints, but put no limitation on ideas. Just go for it...

From regimented creativity, can come a slew of great new ideas, and previously unthought of innovation.

Oh, and if you do come up with a new umbrella innovation, I would be most grateful.

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