- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (March 18, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1118297709
- ISBN-13: 978-1118297704
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 55 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity Hardcover – March 18, 2013
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From the Author: Eight Simple Techniques For Greater Creativity
Creativity doesn't come from one brilliant idea; it's a way of life. Using Sawyer's techniques, new ideas come every day, leading you always further down the zig-zag path to greater creativity. Try these simple techniques, one for each of Sawyer's eight steps.Find the right question
If you're stumped, it's often because you're asking the wrong question. Maybe your question is too narrow and focused, and you just need to think bigger. For example, instead of asking yourself "Should I repair my old car, or buy a new one?" try asking "Can I get a job within walking distance of home?" or "Can I move closer to public transportation?"Prepare your mind
The most creative people are voracious learners; they dabble in things they know nothing about. Teach yourself something about weaponry, hypnosis, glass blowing, auto repair, Sufi mysticism…Be aware
Research shows that the most creative people are more likely talk to lots of different people. So try this: Before you attend your next party or social event, choose a color. Then at the event, make a point of meeting and chatting with anyone who's wearing that color.Free your mind
When you're facing a creative challenge, try to imagine it as a problem in a very different world, like Dentistry; Lawn care; Furniture design; Prison; The Circus. How would your problem look in that world? How would you try to solve it?Generate ideas
You can increase your ability to generate good ideas by practicing idea generation every day in simple tasks. For example, make a long list of specific facts about how the world would be different: If gravity stopped for one second each day? If there were five sexes? Come up with your own idea challenges as you go through your day. In the kitchen: What if my refrigerator had 20 shelves? Preparing for bed at night: What if people could sleep standing up?Combine ideas
The best insights come from combining ideas that are completely unrelated. Take out paper and pencil and sketch a piece of furniture that is also a kind of fruit; or, a lampshade that is also a kind of book; or, just pick two words at random by closing your eyes and pointing at different pages in a book, and invent a combination.Make ideas even better
Once you have a few ideas, take each one of them (even the ones that aren't so great) and list at least three benefits of that idea, and then list at least three practical steps you would have to take to implement the idea. This simple technique often helps you think of ways to make the ideas even better.Get your ideas into the world
Buy a stack of ten magazines. (Or take some of those old magazines in your dentist's waiting room) Clip out any photos that seem related to your problem, and keep going until you have 50 photos. Use a glue stick and make a collage by sticking them onto a large piece of poster board. Keep the collage near your desk for a couple of weeks, and make sure to look at it each day.
From the Inside Flap
"No matter what kind of creativity I studied, the process wasthe same. Creativity did not descend like a bolt of lightning thatlit up the world in a single brilliant flash. It came in tinysteps, bits of insight, and incremental changes. Zigs and zags.When people followed those zigs and zags, ideas and revelationsstarted flowing."
—From the Introduction
Can you be more creative? Absolutely, and Zig Zag showsyou how. Dr. Keith Sawyer, a psychologist, professor, jazz pianist,and former video game designer, is one of the world's leadingexperts on creativity. To develop his accessible eight-stepcreativity program, Sawyer explored the lives of exceptionalcreators, tapped into the back stories of world-changinginnovations, and analyzed laboratory experiments that delved deeplyinto the everyday creativity that all of us share. He discoveredmany surprising secrets of highly creative people—how theyquestion assumptions when presented with new problems, how they getbeyond creative blocks, and above all, how they negotiate the manytwists and turns along the way.
Zig Zag draws on these secrets to provide an eight-stepprogram that will help you achieve greater creativity—whetheryou're looking for new ways to excel at your job, build afulfilling career, develop a more deeply satisfying personal life,find fresh, clever, permanent solutions to nagging problems, makebetter decisions, bring about change in your community, andmore.
Zig Zag provides an unprecedented collection of more thanone hundred practical, hands-on activities that will keep youmoving down the creative path. These research-based techniques helpyou ask deeper questions, see the world in new ways, and developnovel ideas. Zig Zag is your guidebook to the surprising,unpredictable, and fascinating journey that leads to greatercreativity.
Top customer reviews
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This is the first book I read about creativity. I find it quite eye-opening and exciting, with all the practical guidelines and strategies that can be readily applied in daily life. One important take-away is the argument that creativity can be cultivated if you wish, rather than being passively endowed with. More importantly, it inspires me to look at my life differently with a more playful and active mood.
In each chapter around one step, Dr. Sawyer successfully discusses the significance, anecdotes and examples (either success or failure cases in creativity), the association with other steps, as well as some practical exercises. Another strength is the strong support of empirical research findings from the fields such as business, music, and psychology. They are sprinkled in the book and make the argument more convincing than propagandist.
While reading this book, I followed the author’s suggestion to ponder some creativity challenges at hand. And I actually multitasked, or in Dr. Sawyer’s words “Cook on All Burners” (p. 162), which is to shift among several ongoing projects at a time and open the window for fusing ideas. It is really an exciting and enjoyable experience to witness my creativity grow. In this way, not only the reading becomes more relevant to me, but also changes the way I process information from passive reception to active association, idea generation, and evaluation. As I learnt from my Instructional Strategies class, another possible way to engage in reading and reflecting on this book is to rank top three favorite strategies from each of these eight steps.
As this is my first read in the psychology of creativity, it’s quite refreshing for me to bump into so many good ideas. However, for those who have been in creative professions for a while, such as commercial designers, teachers, businessmen, and artists, the content may not be very surprising. Moreover, even though the linking of his 8 main elements is somewhat new, the wording of “zig zag” may be misleading. I am left the impression that the creative process is more like an interacted blending of various cognitions and behaviors, rather than haphazardly bouncing around several self-contained entities or steps. For example, one can simultaneously ask and learn, play and make, look and fuse, etc.; all can intertwine and do not extinguish from each other neatly. Admittedly, I buy into Sawyer’s proposition that creative process is seldom a straightforward or smooth path from one stop to another once and for all, but more often a jumpy and back-and-forth iteration and evolution. Nevertheless, the word “zig zag” does not depict the creative process as satisfactorily as the knitted diagram he uses on page 216.
Although the idea that creativity has no finite termination makes sense, it sounds depressing to people like me, who just want to close the task at hand and move on in life. Surely, the influence of previous project must be there and probably blends into future production, but one cannot always afford the luxury to pursue a perfect Neverland. How to balance ever perfection and efficiency is a question to be answered. In this case, this argument may not be appealing for those whose work has clear boundaries and progressions.
Another thing I want to touch upon is one of the strategies in “Ask” section – “Find the Bug”. Debugging is a very powerful locomotive of problem solving and innovation. In one example (p. 30), instead of being bugged by cluttered bathroom cabinet every day, installing a lazy Susan inside to spin makes the life all the more delightful and easy. However, I am a little concerned about the use of free attacks on flaws and its overgeneralization to other scenarios outside creative asking. In that case, people may be more motivated to start the creative process, yet at the potential cost of habitual malign complaints or nitpicking, and neglect the healing power of positive thinking and being grateful for what we have.
Personally speaking, what I benefit most from his book is the awareness to ask good questions and the openness towards interminable evolvement of ever better ideas. I used to have the simplified assumption that one should find one key question and mostly direct stamina to the problem-solving rather than problem forming. But looking back, many bad solutions did derive from bad questions in the first place, like in the case of early version of Starbucks (p. 20). Also I have the tendency to see tasks more as obstacles to overcome, hurdles to jump over, and enemies to finish off, rather than chances to learn, to connect, and to grow. This book makes possible an optimistic perspective and fun-loving mindset in my life.
With increased attention and acceptance of creativity, it’s worth living to see that, in the near future, creativity would become a basic element implanted in many more curriculums and training programs as a way to foster well-being and economic vigor. Would creativity have a similar increase as intelligence scores (i.e., Flynn effect)? Or would it be the case that collective creativity boost cancels the inflation out, and makes it harder for individuals to become creative?
Sawyer not only does an excellent of job of explaining, but he also does an excellent job of applying each stage to his readers. At the end of each chapter, Sawyer presents several different practices and exercises that readers can perform in order to incorporate that particular stage into their creative process. The exercises are concise and clear. Sawyer not only teaches his readers about the stages of the creative process, but he also shows them how to integrate the stages into their own creative processes.