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Your Creative Power

By Alex Osborn

*A Book Review*

by Michael C. Gray

© 2011 by Michael C. Gray

Developing creative ideas is a key part of sustaining a successful business. Organizations have to continue to evolve to meet the demands of a competitive, changing marketplace. When we think of creative businesses, The Walt Disney Company, Google and Apple Computer come to mind.

Your Creative Power is a classic exploration of the subject of creativity and generating ideas. It was originally released in 1948. The book is in the public domain. When you read the techniques and examples in the book, it is striking how they continue to be useful and relevant today. You could simply drop in the names of today’s businesses and tell very similar stories.

Alex Osborn became the executive vice president of BBDO, an advertising agency in 1939. In 1959, he founded the Creative Education Foundation, which was sustained by the royalties from his books. He also co-founded the Creative Education Foundation’s Creative Problem Solving Institute, the world’s longest-running international creativity conference.

According to Osborn, there are two types of thinking: judicial thinking and creative thinking. Judicial or logical thinking is a screening process, passing judgment on whether ideas are good or not. This type of thinking dominates the executive suites of most companies. Creative thinking is a free flow. It’s best used to generate ideas with no screening until after as many ideas as possible are generated.

An essential piece of the idea generation process is writing them down as you or a group thinks of them. Sometimes you can list hundreds of ideas, and finally the best one comes out.

Ideas can be generated either individually or in groups. When done in groups, we call the process brainstorming. Brainstorming works best when a specific problem or issue is presented to the group, so the creative energy has a specific direction. It’s important that ideas should not be criticized as they are presented. Judicial thinkers might have to be told to shut up or leave the room!

Organizations can also elicit ideas from all employees. Researchers were surprised to learn that workers on the shop floor and farmers are more creative and can generate more valuable creative ideas than most executives. During World War Two, thousands of ideas were submitted to generate cost savings, more production efficiency and other benefits for the war effort. Companies can share the benefits of suggestions from employees who submit them in the form of bonuses and awards.

Rarely is a truly revolutionary idea discovered. Most ideas are developmental and built on previous material. For example, Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was based on an old Grimm’s fairy tale.

You and your organization can reap great benefits by applying the methods for generating ideas explained in Your Creative Power.

Buy it on Amazon: Your Creative Power.

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Want to know how to be more creative in your business? Alex Osborn may have the answer in his classic book, Your Creative Power.

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Michael Gray, CPA
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