A Creative Town is a Healthy Town


Image by Allie Caulfield*

In Imagination First, Eric Liu and I state our conviction that “it’s in the collective arena that imagination can do the most” (200). One of our main goals in the book is to help the reader turn his or her community—whether that means the home or the workplace or the town—into “an ecosystem where good ideas can emerge from anywhere” (203). I’m quite pleased, therefore, by a recent article in The Enterprise-Bulletin—a newspaper published out of Ontario, Canada—that stresses this essential connection between imagination/creativity and community. In “A Creative Town is a Healthy Town,” columnist Tanya Mazza nicely supports the claim that she makes in the title of her piece. Continue reading

For a Limited Time Only: “Fleeting Youth, Fading Creativity”

During the 19th century, mathematician Adolphe Quetelet documented the waxing and waning of productivity among playwrights. Contemporary research confirms and extends Quetelet’s “inverted U curve” theory. For example, UC-Davis psychologist Dean Simonton argues that, after young professionals—who start out willing and eager for novelty—spend a few years immersed in the conventions of their fields, their work begins to tend toward “the same-old, same-old.” And research also tells us that it is becoming less and less likely for people in professions dependent on creativity—for example scientists and artists—to receive significant institutional and economic support early in their careers. What happens when the policies of “mature” institutions discourage innovative thinking? Author Jonah Lehrer discusses these trends and highlights a number of exciting programs that would seem to counter them in a Wall Street Journal article called “Fleeting Youth, Fading Creativity.” But hurry! Time for viewing Lehrer’s article is truly fleeting—this link will only function through Saturday, February 27th.


Video Interview: Eric Liu


During a speaking engagement and book-signing event in Seattle this past Wednesday, Braden Kelley, founder of the firm Business Strategy Innovation and correspondent for Blogging Innovation, caught up with Imagination First co-author Eric Liu.

Video Interview, Part 1

Video Interview, Part 2

You can also see the full interview and read Kelley’s comments about Liu’s speech in his Blogging Innovation entry.


The Wider Possibilities of Invention


Image by Western Dave*

In Imagination First, Eric Liu and I discuss “‘challenge awards’” that “spur the creation of what does not yet exist” (171). The Ansari X Prize, for example, awarded $10 million in 2004 to the brilliant minds behind the first nongovernmental manned space flight of a reusable craft. Such challenges are exciting, to be sure, but they also have unfortunate limitations: their super-specific goals mean that other, more everyday problems remain unacknowledged, and their substantial scope makes it impossible for ordinary people who aren’t independently wealthy to compete. Which is exactly why I find the 2010 BI-LO Invention Convention and the Connecticut Invention Convention so refreshing. Continue reading

How to Succeed in Business by Really Trying (and Imagining)


Image by bhlogiston*

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a New York Times article that discusses the ways in which several graduate business schools are attempting to integrate creativity and critical thinking into their curricula. We can now happily add the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business to the list! An article by Terry Kosdrosky for the Ross School’s Web site spotlights “Leading Creativity and Innovation,” a popular course taught by Professor Jeff DeGraff. Kosdrosky explains,

“With corporate budgets tight and customers ever more demanding, C-level executives are looking for self-starting leaders with imagination—the kind of imagination that transcends expectations.”

Indeed! So how does DeGraff’s course respond to this pressing need in the business world? Continue reading

Emerging Issues Forum Brings Creativity in Education into Focus


Image by Ariana Rose Taylor-Stanley*

In “More Creativity in the Classroom,” an opinion piece written for The Huffington Post, former North Carolina governor Jim Hunt expresses a vision for education with which I heartily agree. It is strikingly similar to the one embodied by  the imaginative learning model of Lincoln Center Institute. “Creative thinking fuels innovation,” Hunt asserts. It leads to new ideas, products, services, and jobs. So unless we “cultivat[e] creativity in our schools at the state and local levels,” the United States will soon find itself unable to compete economically with other nations who do. But, some readers may ask, what does it mean to “cultivate creativity” in public education? Continue reading

The Wisdom of the Pack Rat


Image by Diego Cupolo*

Our culture prizes neatness. We try our best to avoid clutter—in our homes, in our workplaces, and, most importantly, in our minds. We coin pejorative names for people who don’t toe the party line, labeling them “pack rats.” Many of us can’t even begin to work on a project until we feel that our office is sufficiently organized and free of excess stuff. These tendencies are perfectly legitimate—mental and physical tidiness do have their place—but would it be radical of me to suggest that clutter might, in fact, be a cornerstone of creativity and imagination? Continue reading

Redesigning the American Classroom


Image by John R. Hawk*

In a recent blog entry on graduate business schools, I mentioned “design thinking,” a term that may be unfamiliar to many readers. In a fascinating January 20 interview with Public School Insights, a blog of the Learning First Alliance, professor and business innovator David Kelley provides satisfying answers to anyone in the dark about what exactly “design thinking” is. In addition to founding the world-class design company IDEO, Kelley has been a professor at Stanford’s unique Institute of Design (nicknamed “d.school”) for over 30 years. Like LCI’s Imagination Conversations initiative, much of Kelley’s current work is dedicated to reshaping American public education—but how does he want to change it, and why? Continue reading