Tuesday, October 30, 2012


By: David Rock
Published: October 12, 2012; Psychology Today; http://www.psychologytoday.com  Alternatively, just google the title and writer’s name.
Level of difficulty: ***
Search for a video to watch or a talk to listen to on creativity (try ted.com). Then discuss the following questions:
-          Are people born creative or do they learn to be creative?
-          Can creativity be nurtured? How? Provide some examples.
-          Can people be made less creative over time? How? Provide some examples.
1.       Why are innovative ideas so very important in the modern business world? Answer in your own words.
2.       What does “this” refer to in the phrase “how this happens” in paragraph 2?
3.       The writer says “thinking is the core of our existence and civilization.” What is the impact of failure to think properly at the workplace? Be precise.
4.       What is the function of the last two sentences of paragraph 3 and paragraph 4?
5.       What does “The research” at the beginning of paragraph 7 refer to?
6.       What is the function of paragraph 8? Explain.
7.       The writer says “Thus we have insights when our overall activity level in the brain is low”. Why does such a state lead to innovative thinking? Be brief and careful. There are two possible answers. Try and find them both.
8.       What suggestion would you give a boss who wanted to foster quiet minds in the work place? What changes could he implement? Use your own opinions
9.       The writer states that “we tend to meander between these two states – being externally focused or being internally focused – all the time. Why doesn’t this prevalent mode of thinking lead to innovative thought? You will need to tweak the text and be very careful!
10.   Why does anxiety reduce creativity?
11.   People who stop trying to solve a problem – are distracted – are more likely to hit on a creative solution because ………………………………………………………………………………………………
12.   Why is brainstorming as a team the worst way to hit on creative solutions?
13.   What alternative method does the writer suggest?
14.   What is the function of the last paragraph? How do you know?
Write a problem/ solution essay on the measures you would suggest to increase creativity in the workplace. Use the plan below and remember to provide examples.
In your introduction, use information you gleaned from the talks you listened to, the videos you watched and the text to discuss the importance of creativity in the workplace.
In your development, discuss the solutions suggested in the text and provide practical examples of your own. The solutions are as follows: having a quiet mind, introspection, being happy and stopping trying to solve a problem.
In your conclusion, write a restatement or suggest that the modern workplace has to change along with the mind set of managers to derive the most benefit from the workforce. You will need to elaborate on this idea.
This wonderful text on a very topical issue which a lot of people will immediately recognize should go down very well with young professionals but also with our students because the methods the bosses employ are very similar to the ones the students have always been accustomed to. Although some of the questions are relatively easy, there are some seriously challenging ones like question 9. I feel it is always good to have a few questions like this to see who can answer them. I would recommend ted.com for a listening activity before you tackle the text.
  1. Possible answer: innovative ideas mean greater revenues; lack of them means loss
  2. The “aha” moment
  3. Bosses don’t perform at their fullest; they fail to get the most out of their subordinates. OR bosses hinder overall employee performance as an alternative for the second one.
  4. Thesis statement and expansion or support.
  5. The research that shows that solving a problem that requires a creative out-of-the-box solution prompts changes in the brain that do not occur under normal problem solving conditions.
  6. It provides transition from the description of the “aha” moment to how to have more “aha” moments. It is a bridge paragraph.
  7. Because we have millions of neurons constantly speaking to each other, we only notice the weaker, less noticeable connections when our overall activity level is low. OR, insights require a quiet mind because they themselves are quiet.
  8. Possible answer: install a gym in the basement or a ping pong table like Google has done in its head office.
  9. Because their resources are split or divided.
  10. Because people become tunnel visioned.
  11. They notice the quiet signals of insight.
  12. Because it creates a lot of mental noise.
  13. Defining a question as a group then individuals taking time out to do something interesting but repetitive and simple for a while.
  14. The conclusion. It goes beyond the essay. It is much more general.

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