Spoiler alert: Everyone is creative

Sometimes you feel like you are on the right path because ideas and events seem to be converging in an almost too coincidental way. Like this week when I read Tina Sellig's inGenius as part of some research for a project on creativity. I have noticed repeatedly when I work with groups to introduce using gamification in learning or using new technologies or ... well ... just about anytime, that people get kind of stuck. Something has gummed up the gears of their creative engine. I can introduce all the tools and examples and suggestions in the world, but it is in getting them to translate those ideas into their environments or incorporating new methods into their designs that they look at me a little bit like a deer in headlights. Stunned. Not sure which way to go.

Part of the problem, I realized, is that people work really hard to get good at what they are doing. Yay for mastery. But in the process, they sometimes get a little too formulaic and exploring things like gamification requires you to explore and combine things in new ways which is a skill that many people are not comfortable with or haven't had a lot of recent practice with. If you look at gamification as a tool in the instructional design toolbox, then it is like any other tool, you have to try it out, experiment and be creative. So sometimes we have to take a step back to go forward. So maybe, I thought, I should help people jump start their creativity. Or, in some cases, give them permission to practice their creativity. And in others, convince them that they are creative. Spoiler alert: everyone is creative.


InGenius is a quick and helpful read and Sellig's 6 part innovation engine provides an interesting model or set of lens through which to view creativity. She takes the engine apart and shows you how it fits together with three inner components -- knowledge, imagination, and attitude -- and three outer components -- resources, habitat, and culture.

• Your knowledge provides the fuel for your imagination.
• Your imagination is the catalyst for the transformation of knowledge into new ideas.
• Your attitude is a spark that sets the Innovation Engine in motion....
• Resources are all the assets in your community.
• Habitats are your local environments, including your home, school, or office.
• Culture is the collective beliefs, values, and behaviors in your community.

While I enjoyed the book, I have to admit that one of the things that has stuck with me most, and I am still pondering comes from a reference she had to Tom Chatfield's TED Talk 7 ways games reward the brain. See how things are weaving together. I started with people wanting to learn about gamification but getting kind of stuck and in the process of reading about creativity I found my ways back to games. Chatfield mentioned the following equation:

wanting + liking = engagement

Now I have spent lots of time writing, speaking, advocating ... you get the picture ... about intrinsic motivation. And that's the wanting part. You have an inner desire. But I haven't ever framed the whole engagement picture as the combination of wanting and also liking. I have encouraged people to reconsider their designs. And to be mindful of the importance of the interface being appealing and the stories and many other aspects that dance around this. But his equation is so elegantly simple. I kind of love it.

Of course, as my curiosity engine is always in full swing, I dug a little deeper and found an interesting article that includes a diagram showing the brain circuitry involved with three aspects of pleasure: wanting, liking, and learning. What I find really fascinating is the overlap of different circuits among the three aspects.


Brain circuitry of pleasure

OK, I've got some more thinking to go do on this. Let me know what you think.