Research success into a new way to train one’s creativity

March 16, 2022
 Research success into a new way to train one’s creativity

Method training based on the “narrative theory” helps people be more creative in the way children, artists, and writers are by way of imagination and perspective-shifting. It uses many types of storytelling techniques: for example, employees at a company might be asked to think about their most unusual customer—then imagine a world in which all their customers were like that. How would that change their business? What would they have to do to survive?

Another scenario: an executive at a company might be asked to answer a problem by thinking like another member of their team.

According to Angus Fletcher, who developed the method and is a professor of English and a member of The Ohio State University’s Project Narrative, “Creativity isn’t about guessing the future correctly [but] about making yourself open to imagining radically different possibilities.

“When you do that, you can respond more quickly and nimbly to the changes that occur.”

The narrative approach to creativity can unlock the creative process in people that have stopped using it as they progressed through school, where intensive logical, semantic, and memory training take hold, Fletcher said.

The current foundation of creativity training – a technique known as divergent thinking – has been in use since the 1950s. It is a “computational approach” to creativity that treats the brain as a logic machine and promotes problem-solving. However, computational approach relies on data and information about the problems and successes that have occurred.

“What it can’t do is help prepare people for new challenges that we know little about today. It can’t come up with truly original actions,” Fletcher said. “The human brain’s narrative machinery can [do so] but the reality is that we’re just not training creativity in the right way.”

Fletcher thus recommends teaching creativity as a means to come up with new solutions to everyday problems. Fletcher and co-researcher Mike Benveniste successfully used the narrative approach to train members of the US Army’s Command and General Staff College. Fletcher wrote bootcamp manual based on his methods that was tailored to officers and advanced enlisted personnel.

The duo have also worked with the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, the Ohio State College of Engineering, and several Fortune 50 companies to teach creativity to their staffs and students.

“Project Narrative is all about how stories work in the brain. It is the foundation that helped us put together this new way of thinking about and training for creativity.”

To ignite your creativity at home, simply pursue an enjoyable pastime – anything from scribbling away in a sketchbook, painting, a fancy retelling of your favourite fictional book, or puzzle games. Whatever you choose, let your mind explore and avoid using technology to do the work for you as it easily zaps creativity.

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Category: Education, Features

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