Review Creative Problem Solving course offered by the University of Minnesota

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This time I took a creative problem course and I’m gonna share with you the most important ideas.

The course starts with the idea that creativity is based on our native intelligence and can be developed or improved through schooling and experience. Creativity is mostly a public act and it may look weird for some people. Think about all those groundbreaking ideas that broke conventions and created the future. Many of the people having such ideas were initially considered insane or at least off things.

When talking about creativity we have two types of thinking: convergent or divergent. Both are needed in problem solving but this course is focused on divergent thinking.

Divergent thinking is the kind of thinking that finds multiple answers to a single question or multiple solutions to a single problem. Convergent thinking on the other hand implies finding a single solution to a problem, oftenly via a logical process.

There seems to be a connection between play and creativity. On one hand play finds motivation from within and is not dependent on external rewards. Creativity also is at its highest when people are finding motivation deep within.

Csikszentmihalyi defined a state of mind called flow where all external matters including the passing of time do not count anymore. When someone is in a state of flow only the activity that created the flow matters.

It has been said every child is an artist - the problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.

Research has shown that having diverse experiences and being in different environments favors creativity. Another method for stimulating creativity is to look at different images - this technique is called random image stimulation.

Researcher Teresa Amabile believes creativity is killed everyday at the work environment due to the interest in productivity and control. The way to be creative even in such situations is by finding ways to work with the constraints.

Amabile's componential theory of creativity defines three main areas: creative skills, expertise and motivation.

There are two types of motivation: external and internal. External motivation generally comes in the form of rewards or punishments. The problem with external motivation is the need to increase incentives over time to achieve the same results and also it decreases creativity.

Amabile discovered people are most creative when they feel motivated primarily by interests, satisfaction and challenge of the work itself and not by external pressures.

Next there are beliefs. The most important condition for people to be creative is to believe in their creativity. Also creative habits are also important: finding more solutions than necessary or challenging ourselves to be more creative than we are.

The course ends with top 10 ideas for being more creative. Most of these ideas have already been discussed before.


I'm a web programmer passionate about coding, spirituality, psychology and some theoretical sciences. The best part with so many interests is I never get bored.

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