Exercise Idea: Creativity Flowmeter

In Chapter 2 of Tina Seelig’s book “Ingenius,” the topic of ridiculous inventions is mentioned with particular reference to Japanese “un-useless” inventions. I picked up one such book about a year ago – “The Big Bento Box of Unuseless Japanese Inventions (101 Unuseless Japanese Inventions and 99 More Unuseless Japanese Inventions)” by Kenji Kawakami, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Dan Papia (Apr 17, 2005). When I first browsed it at a Kinokuniya in San Jose, I felt extremely “tickled” seeing the unabashed inventiveness of Japanese with high focus on their own culture.

Many of the inventions shown in this book and other similar ones could serve as prompts to measure reactions to the unusual creativity. I would compile a slide show of 20 or so of the inventions (perhaps just the image and not include the title/description) and have students fill in a “survey” of their reactions including perhaps: Useless, Ho-hum, Cool, I Could Have Thought of That! and I Wish I Had Thought of That! [<-to be refined.]

The idea is to gauge one’s creative flow as a result of viewing and judging the creativity of the un-useless inventions. This would not work so well with inventions that are familiar to our audience (eg, iPad) or are too complicated to understand the function. The lesson would also expose students to the idea that inventiveness can be derived from converging two or more apparently dissimilar objects, functions etc. This would be an exercise relevant to our discussion about divergence, convergence, crossover, spinoffs and parallelism in product design.



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