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Theories of creativity & Problem-solving and improvisation

Chapter 4

Theories of creativity

The Chapter attempts to demonstrate the complexities in creativity and problems-solving concepts. The underlying argument is that there is no standard theory or approach that can satisfactorily explain the concepts of creativity and creative problem-solving, as information on creativity is diverse, scattered, and originate from various disciplines. Several arguments are presented to support this thesis. One is that human understanding and experience, both of which are complex, are fundamental sources of ideas. Still, this assumption is not satisfactory. Use of theories in the chapter is, therefore, crucial in improving an understanding of the processes of creativity and problem-solving. An example of the theories is the ‘investment theory of creativity,’ which suggests that creativity requires combining of knowledge, intellectual abilities, thinking styles, environment, motivation, and personality.

Still, as observed, this complex combination of resources requires the brain to process information. This forms the backdrop of Roger Sperry’s left Brain/Right Brain Theory, which argues that the left brain serves the mathematical, logical thinking function, while the right one serves the intuition and visualisation function. Additional related theories include the Whole Brain/Four-Quadrant Model, which divides the brain into four quadrants. Other theories include Walla’s model of the creative process, and Cropley’s stages model.

Despite how convincing these theories maybe, what is clear is that creativity and problems-solving are not automatic. I observe that for creativity to happen, several conditions are fulfilled: immersion, detached devotion, using errors, viewing questions and receptivity. Still, the origin of creativity is as complex as the processes of creativity. The chapter suggests four origins, namely cognitive, personality, association, accident, and grace.

Ultimately, it is observed that there is no standard theory or approach that can satisfactorily explain the concepts of creativity and creative problem-solving, as information on creativity is diverse, scattered, and originate from various disciplines.

Chapter 4

Problem-solving and improvisation

As conceptualised, an underlying argument guiding this chapter is that not all problems can be solved using the creative-problem-solving process, particularly for the recurrent problems in the organisation. One possible explanation for this is because problems can be solved mentally, as well as through manipulation of symbols.

It is based on this background that the Chapter proposes several models that suggest problem-solving process. As construed, therefore, problems happen in many kinds of domains and come in different kinds, which lead to the need to use divergent models. Examples of the divergent models addressed in this chapter include a common-sense approach to problem-solving, which suggests a systematic approach to problem-solving. An additional model for problem-solving process is that suggested by Bransford and Stein (1993), which suggests 5 processes, such as identifying problems and opportunities, defining goals, exploring possible strategies, anticipating outcomes and acts and looking back and learning.

A critical survey of the models addressed in the chapter show that generally, the models attempt to divide the problem-solving process into three steps: defining the problems, gathering information, problem finding, generating solutions, evaluating the solutions and accepting the findings.

At any rate, these models would not necessarily bring solutions to problems, particularly when the problems are not defined properly. To a greater extent, however, the problem solving process models suggest that solving problems is essentially a creative process.

Indeed, a fundamental method of solving problems is to view it as involving the processing of information. As observed in one of the explanations in the chapter, ideas could be thought of as statements of thoughts, or as mental processes or information that drifts into one’s mind.

This also forms the basis from which insights arise. Gaining insights into specific problems is significant, as it leads to restructuring of the problem to solve the problem. At this stage, it is also important to realise that while it is not feasible to have perfect solutions to problems through creative thinking, the solutions they conceive are acceptable.