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Entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity: the creative process of entrepreneurs and innovators

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The study examines the creative process of entrepreneurs and innovators. It considers how a number of types of thinking-analytical, analogical, imaginary, intuitive-are involved in creativity and the creative process. It further considers how learning and composite thinking-the integration of the different types of thinking-are incorporated in the creative process. The subsequent analysis covers a number of aspects of creativity and the creative process: 1) attributes, 2) traits, 3) skill, 4) stimulants, 5) process, 6) method and technique, 7) imagination, 8) intuition and the subconscious , 9) problem statement, 10) referencing past solutions, 11) the solution space, 12) teams, and 13) factors of success in the market. The prominent role of the intuition and the subconscious in creativity is clear. Both the left-brain and right-brain typically contribute to creativity. Perspective formation forms a key component of creativity. There is a semi-formal process to creativity. Both intuition and creativity itself can be developed. Given the array of factors that influence success in the market, it may be questioned whether creativity is essentially a prominent factor of entrepreneurship. Pure or raw creativity by itself is certainly not a sufficient factor of entrepreneurship, but must first be combined with general business sense or acumen to guarantee innovation success.
Entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity: the creative
process of entrepreneurs and innovators
Brian Barnard, Derrick Herbst
The study examines the creative process of entrepreneurs and innovators. It considers how a number of
types of thinking - analytical, analogical, imaginary, intuitive - are involved in creativity and the
creative process. It further considers how learning and composite thinking the integration of the
different types of thinking - are incorporated in the creative process. The subsequent analysis covers a
number of aspects of creativity and the creative process: 1) attributes, 2) traits, 3) skill, 4) stimulants, 5)
process, 6) method and technique, 7) imagination, 8) intuition and the sub-conscious, 9) problem
statement, 10) referencing past solutions, 11) the solution space, 12) teams, and 13) factors of success
in the market. The prominent role of the intuition and the sub-conscious in creativity is clear. Both the
left-brain and right-brain typically contribute to creativity. Perspective formation forms a key
component of creativity. There is a semi-formal process to creativity. Both intuition and creativity itself
can be developed. Given the array of factors that influence success in the market, it may be questioned
whether creativity is essentially a prominent factor of entrepreneurship. Pure or raw creativity by itself
is certainly not a sufficient factor of entrepreneurship, but must first be combined with general business
sense or acumen to guarantee innovation success.
Keywords: entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity, creative thinking, analytical thinking, analogical
thinking, imaginary thinking, intuitive thinking, intuition, sub-conscious, learning, innovativeness, left-
brain, right-brain.
Abbreviations: minimum viable product (MVP).
1 Introduction
The study further examines the creative process of entrepreneurs and innovators. It investigates how
different types of thinking - analytical, analogical, imaginary, intuitive are involved in the creative
process. It also considers how learning and composite thinking the integration of the different types
of types of thinking are involved in the creative process. One of the objectives is to note whether
there is truly a left-brain, right-brain divide when it comes to creativity – whether one side of the brain
truly dominates during creativity, and in contributing to creativity and the creative process. Another
objective is to consider how different types of thinking contribute to creativity and the creative process,
and how they are combined during the creative process. Furthermore, it is considered whether and how
learning takes place during the creative process. The study also follows a qualitative methodology by
interviewing entrepreneurs and innovators, in the view that this too provides an unique perspective.
2 Literature review
McFadzean (1998a) notes that creativity techniques can be classified into two groups: analytical and
intuitive. Analytically-oriented techniques use a structure to generate a logical pattern of thought. These
techniques include Force-Field Analysis and Progressive Abstraction. Intuitive techniques, on the other
hand, allow the participant to make giant leaps or to observe images or symbols in order to arrive at a
solution. Wishful Thinking and Metaphors are two techniques that can be classified under the intuitive
category. Classical Brainstorming does not produce very many ideas that challenge or break away from
a prevailing paradigm - this technique produces more paradigm preserving ideas than paradigm
breaking ideas. This is because these techniques only use free association. They do not force the
participants to use their imagination to develop ideas (although some may do so) but piggyback on the
ideas of others thus participants tend to follow a more structured process.
Swann and Birke (2005) state that there are three critical aspects or characteristics of creativity:
bisociation, autonomy and incubation. Bisociation is a combinatorial activity: it brings together
different perspectives on the same issue. A distinction is made between the routine skills of thinking on
a single plane, and the creative act which always operates on more than one plane. Bisociation is about
perceiving an idea or situation, in two self-consistent but habitually incompatible frames of reference.
Autonomy concerns the fact that the creative person needs to establish his own intellectual and creative
independence. Incubation pertains to the fact that creativity usually does not take the form of sudden
flashes of inspiration out of the blue. Rather, creativity is the culmination of long periods of sustained
thought and effort – or incubation. This is not to deny that the final breakthrough may appear suddenly,
but to emphasise that the breakthrough builds on long periods of painstaking thought.
2.1 Creative thinking methods
Brainstorming: McFadzean (1998b) notes that brainstorming relies on the absence of evaluation in the
idea generation phase. Moreover, free-wheeling is encouraged so that an extensive list of ideas can be
generated. The group members must be allowed to communicate an idea, however mundane, strange or
wild, to the rest of the group. An idea that may seem impractical may contain a germ of a great
solution. The facilitator meets the problem champion to develop a statement of the problem, to select
the participants and to set up the meeting. The facilitator reiterates the problem statement to the group,
sets out the ground rules, instructs the group on the purpose and process of brainstorming and conducts
a warm-up exercise, if necessary. The facilitator asks the participants to generate possible solutions,
without criticism, for about 30 to 45 minutes. The ideas are recorded on a flipchart by the facilitator,
who must also encourage the group members to continue generating ideas. The facilitator leads the
group back through the list of ideas encouraging them to combine statements and identify valuable
ideas. The facilitator designates one person to receive any additional ideas that may occur to members
after the meeting.
Brainwriting: McFadzean (1998b) argues that brainwriting not only maintains a form of anonymity
thus reducing inhibitions, but it also allows parallel communication which negates domination by one
or more individuals. Couger et al (1993) note the distinction in brainwriting is the generation of ideas
individually, and recording them on paper. The advantage over brainstorming is reduction of the effect
of dominating individuals; brainwriting ensures that all participants have equal opportunity to share
their ideas. The other advantage comes from the rotation of ideas among participants, with each person
expanding and improving the idea. By the time the process is completed, everyone has ownership in the
idea. It also tends to be a mature idea, ready to be implemented, compared to the results of
brainstorming, where the ideas are mostly immature.
Synectics: Nolan (2003) notes that the synectics process views the initial approaches generated in a
period of suspended judgement (similar to, but more sophisticated, than brainstorming) as starting
points for further development, rather than as finished solutions to be accepted or rejected. They are
called ‘springboards’: they are taking-off points, not (normally) end points. At the end of the explicitly
divergent process to generate springboards, synectics moves on to the development process, which
converts initially new, but not feasible approaches into new and feasible courses of action. It does so by
using a developmental type of judgement, to be made by the individual who will be responsible for
implementing the solution. A developmental judgement is a temporary, provisional judgement, which
articulates what is, or might be, attractive about an idea and goes on to express its major shortcoming as
a “need for improvement”. There are two important elements to this apparently simple process: the first
is the positive emphasis of finding, even searching for, all the value in the idea. This ensures that every
idea that is evaluated is positively received, maintaining the safe climate created by the initial
suspending judgement. There is no risk of rejection in expressing any idea. The second is the
conversion of the one major negative into a “direction for improvement”: “what I need now is a way
to ...”, inviting ideas directed at this new target. By continued iteration between the ideas and their
constructive evaluation, the process moves (probably) to a course of action that is new and feasible and
has the commitment of the individual who has been doing the directing.
Radial-diagram technique: Titus (2000) states that the radial-diagram technique is a simple, yet
powerful, free-association technique, much like the traditional brainstorming approach. However, it
proceeds by categorizing and graphically mapping out or linking related ideas and solutions together as
they are generated. Thus, the radial-diagram technique operates very much like a structured version of
the traditional brainstorming approach. The advantage of this approach is that the categorization
process calls attention not so much to the specific solution, or idea generated, but rather to the category
of solution generated. This ultimately helps students to identify the usefulness of even the most
outlandish ideas (i.e., why the idea solves the problem), which, in turn, facilitates the production of
more solutions that fall within that particular category. As with the case of traditional brainstorming,
the radial diagram requires that one suspend judgment until all ideas have been generated.
Nominal group technique: Couger et al (1993) note that the technique utilizes the positive features of
both brainstorming and brainwriting. It uses silent generation of ideas in writing, round-robin recording
of ideas, serial discussion for clarification, and subsequent rounds of writing. This approach reduces the
inhibiting factors of both brainstorming and brainwriting, while retaining public sharing of ideas to
stimulate new ideas.
Metaphors: McFadzean (1998b) states that metaphors can be used to create a fantasy situation so that a
new perspective of the problem can be gained. There are a number of different types of metaphors that
can be useful for problem solving and opportunity finding. These include metaphors of nature, vehicle
metaphors, creational metaphors, the journey metaphor and so on. The group members are asked to
write a brief statement of the problem. The facilitator asks the group to select a metaphor category or he
can stipulate the category to the group. Each individual then needs to describe the situation using the
metaphor category. The facilitator needs to stipulate whether the description should be of the present
situation or the ideal situation. Using the descriptions developed by each team member, the participants
can generate new ideas.
Object Stimulation: McFadzean (1998b) notes that object stimulation is an idea generation technique
that can be used to explore the problem space as well as to enhance solution development. The
technique encourages participants to view the situation from a different perspective by using unrelated
stimuli. The group members are asked to develop a list of objects that are completely unrelated to the
problem. Each individual then needs to select one object and describe it in detail. The group should use
each description as a stimulus to generate new and novel ideas.
Manipulative verbs: Couger et al (1993) argue that sometimes people need a kickstart to help them
identify alternative approaches to solving a problem. The manipulative verb checklist provides words
for kick-starting. The list also helps generate ideas by taking a verb from the list and checking the item
against certain aspects of the problem, such as implementation. The comprehensive list of verbs helps
reduce the possibility that a solution might be overlooked. Users of the technique sequentially move
through a list of verbs to suggest possible solutions to the problem.
Heuristic ideation: McFadzean (1999) notes that, in the heuristic ideation technique, the problem-
solving group develops a list of words that are completely unrelated to the problem. The group chooses
two words and forces them together to stimulate ideas pertaining to the problem or situation. The
purpose of such stimuli is to present a completely different problem perspective.
Suggested integration of problem elements (SIL): Couger et al (1993) state that free association and
forced relationships are combined to cause an integration of ideas until an acceptable solution is
reached. Members of the group record their ideas in writing. Two people each read an idea. The
remainder of the group tries to integrate the two ideas. Then another person reads his idea, and the
group tries to integrate that idea with the first integrated result. The process continues, progressively
adding an idea, until an acceptable solution is reached.
Morphological analysis: Couger et al (1993) note that this is an electric, forced-relationship technique
that consists of dividing a problem into its major parameters or dimensions and then subdividing these
into different forms of the original dimensions. Various combinations of the subdivisions are then
forced together and examined for possible solutions to the problem. Because of the systematic nature of
the method, trial-and-error problem solving is avoided. The approach also causes ideas to be considered
that might have been overlooked using a less systematic method.
Breakthrough Thinking: McFadzean (1998a) states that creativity can be enhanced by looking at the
problem from a variety of perspectives and by breaking old mind patterns and forming new
connections and perceptions. Breakthrough thinking also enable decision makers to view problems
from a different perspective. It focuses on the future, that is the goals and purposes of the organisation
or department, rather than what went wrong. This allows the decision-makers to view the problem from
a different perspective and encourages the use of more creative problem solving techniques such as
excursion. Here, participants look at colourful photographs or graphic words and try to link the images
to the problem.
Guided Fantasy: McFadzean (1998a) states that, in guided fantasy, participants are asked to describe a
scenario including their feelings, sounds, colours and smells. New ideas are developed from these
scenarios and they are then linked back to the problem. Harkow (1996) argues that allowing students to
visualize suggestions and providing them with guided fantasy as a prelude to creative writing
experiences, can result in heightened creative output. As part of using guided fantasy to enhance
creative writing in the classroom, after they had been presented with a fantasy prompt, students were
allowed to visualize suggestions and then write their interpretations in the form of a story. When
students were allowed to visualize, fantasize and even become the character in the story to be written
they reacted in a more believable and creative way. Garfield et al (2001) note that guided fantasy is an
intuitive technique that instructs participants to use a fantasy world distant from the problem to help
think of unusual ideas to solve the proposed problem. In their case each participant was given a
description of a trip on a space shuttle as their fantasy world. This scenario provided an environment
unrelated to the task as a stimulus for generating solutions to the proposed problem (campus parking
Wishful thinking: McFadzean (1998b) notes that wishful thinking as a creative problem solving
technique forces participants to look at a “perfect future”. By using this method it allows group
members to develop a goal that can be attained. The group members are asked to write a brief statement
of the problem. The facilitator tells the group to assume that everything is possible. Each individual
then needs to develop some fantasy statements about the future using terms such as: In the future, it
would be nice if the organisation did... What really needs to happen to be a great company is... If I were
in charge of this situation I would do... The group members must then examine each fantasy statement
and develop ideas on how these can be achieved.
Rich pictures: McFadzean (1998b) states that, with rich pictures, group members are asked to write a
brief statement of the problem. The facilitator then asks each individual to draw two pictures. The
pictures may be a metaphor of the situation, for example a vehicle or an animal. The first drawing
would be a picture of how each participant would like to see the situation in the future. The second
picture would be a drawing of how the participants see the present situation. Each participant is asked
to describe the picture of the present first. Not only should he describe the picture but a description
should also be given of the properties of the objects drawn and why they have been drawn that way.
Next, a description of the picture of the future should be given. Again, the properties and the
relationships of the objects should be described. From the descriptions given by the participants new
ideas can then be generated.
Force field analysis: McFadzean (1999) states that force field analysis was designed to help users to
identify factors that contribute to the problem or impede the implementation of its solution. A problem
statement is developed and written on a flip chart. Each individual is asked to write two scenarios: a
description of what the situation would be like if a complete catastrophe were to occur; and a
description of the ideal situation. All the catastrophic and ideal scenarios are arranged on a continuum
with a center line drawn between them. The group members are asked to list the forces that could
contribute to making the situation catastrophic and those that will make the situation ideal. Force field
analysis can stimulate creativity by helping users to define a vision and identify strengths that need to
be enhanced and weaknesses that need to be reduced.
Associations/ images: Couger et al (1993) note that the technique builds on the natural inclination of
humans to associate. The linking or combining process is another way of expanding the solution space.
The leader assists the group in identifying the problem or opportunity to be examined. The leader asks
the participants to select a solution to the problem phrased in the form of a goal or wish. The leader
picks a key concept phrased in the form of a goal or wish. The leader picks a key concept that is central
to the goal/ wish statements. The leader asks the group to think of a world that is remote from the world
of the problem. The leader requests the group to lay aside both the problem and the goal/ wish
developed previously, and to list associations and images that characterize the remote world. The leader
directs the group to relate the list of associations and images of the remote world to the world of the
problem. The leader directs the group to develop second generation associations and images from any
one of those listed before, extracting key principles and applying them in a more realistic way without
diluting the innovation. The group selects and implements appealing ideas developed.
Wildest idea: Couger et al (1993) state that the technique asks people to try to come up with a wild
idea. A wild idea is selected. With this as starting point, the group continues to generate ideas. If no
practical ideas emerge, another wild idea is used, and the process continues until an acceptable idea is
Peaceful setting: Couger et al (1993) note that the objective is to enable people to mentally remove
themselves from present surroundings so they can have access to a less cluttered, more open mental
process. The goal is to try to eliminate the constraints of the normal work environment that impede full
use of their native creative ability. By trying to use all five senses in this setting, they can more easily
call in their sixth sense, intuition.
Progressive abstraction: Titus (2000) states that the progressive abstraction technique is designed to
expand the scope of the problem by redefining it at progressively higher levels of abstraction. The
process of moving to higher levels of abstraction helps to reveal the multi-dimensional nature of the
problem and ultimately expands the solution set. The procedure begins with an initial problem and
progresses by exploring the consequences of not resolving the problem. In essence, what other
problems will surface if one is unable to find an acceptable solution to the initial problem. The
procedure is then applied to the new resulting problem(s) and continues until no new problems surface.
Lotus Blossom technique: Titus (2000) notes that the Lotus blossom techique form part of a class of
techniques designed to systematically uncover and question the basic assumptions and constraints
surrounding the problem. It is designed to systematically identify and list all of the assumptions held
about the problem. Employing this technique provides the basis for knowing which assumptions to
question or verify, thereby directing what information needs to be collected. It proceeds by first listing
the problem statement and then identifying and grouping assumptions about the problem into related
Bug list technique: Titus (2000) argues that the bug list can best be described as a fault-finding
approach to identifying new problems and opportunities. It enhances problem sensitivity by
heightening individuals’ awareness of their dissatisfaction with existing things. The bug list procedure
requires individuals to identify and list those things that irritate or bug them about some object. When
used with a group, a consolidated list of the common group bugs is compiled and voted upon to
identify the things that most irritate the group. The bug list technique is effective because, every
dissatisfaction is a signal that some need is not being met.
Interrogatories 5Ws and H technique: Couger et al (1993) argue that the who-what-where-when-
why and how questions aid in expanding an individual's or group's perspective of a problem or
opportunity. The technique provides a simple, easy-to-remember framework for systematically
gathering data that are relevant to identifying and solving the problem. By going through several cycles
of the 5Ws/ H, alternatives related to the problem/ opportunity can be explored exhaustively.
Problem reversal: Couger et al (1993) note that the technique is valuable for defining a problem in
more solvable terms and for finding solutions to everyday problems. The problem statement is written
down in question form. The verb or action content of the statement is identified. The meaning of the
verb or action content is reversed and the problem is restated in question form. Answers to the reversed
problem statement is listed, and again reversed.
Assumption Reversal: Hender et al (2001) note the phases of the assumption reversal idea generation
technique are: 1) list all the major assumptions about the problem; 2) reverse each assumption in any
way possible; 3) using the reversals as stimuli, generate ideas. The procedure of listing assumptions
and then reversing them is the external stimulus, which is the means of changing perspective. This
invokes a moderate perspective change. These reversed assumptions, however, are still related to the
problem. The link back to the problem and subsequent idea generation is by free association.
Attribute association: Couger et al (1993) state that the attribute association technique works on the
premise that all ideas originate from previous ideas that have been modified in some way. The socket
wrench, for example, is an improvement on the wrench. The ratchet screwdriver evolved by changing
one of the attributes of the traditional screwdriver to one of pushing instead of turning the handle. The
problem and its objectives are stated. All the characteristics of a product, object, or idea related to the
problem are listed. The characteristics or attributes are systematically modified to meet the objectives.
Dimensional analysis: Couger et al (1993) note that the technique is designed to clarify and explore
the dimensions and limits of a problem. It examines five elements of a problem: substantive dimension,
spatial dimension, temporal dimension, qualitative dimension, and quantitative dimension. It is useful
in forcing a problem solver to consider the many implications associated with the various problem
dimensions. The best use of the technique is as a checklist for pre-problem solving, that is, a general
guideline preceding the use of some other analytical method.
Boundary examinations: Couger et al (1993) argue that the act of defining a problem involves certain
assumptions about problem boundaries. Boundaries determine how information is gathered, organized,
and processed. Boundary rigidity will affect problem-solving success. Boundary examinations are
based upon the assumption that a problem's boundaries are neither correct nor incorrect. The objective
is to restructure the assumptions of a problem to provide a new way of looking at at. The major
strengths of the technique are its potential for 1) producing more provocative problem definitions, 2)
clarifying often indistinguishable problem boundaries, 3) demonstrating the importance of formulating
flexible problem definitions, and 4) coping with management teams that are overly precise in their
problem definitions.
Disjointed incrementalism: Couger et al (1993) state that the technique is useful for situations
involving complex decisions and vaguely defined, changing objectives. The disjointed aspect of the
technique refers to the way in which many policy problems are analyzed at different times in different
locations without any apparent coordinating efforts and without the benefit of relevant past experience.
Incrementalism refers to the prescriptions used to compare differences or increments in the
consequences of various alternatives with one another and with a present (state) situation. Thus,
decisions are made by evaluating the trade-offs possible between an increment of one value and an
increment of another value. The technique has the ability to reduce information processing demands
made upon a problem solver. It allows a systematic way to restrict the number of alternatives and
consequences requiring consideration. The technique can decrease the complexity and uncertainty of a
decision environment.
Decomposable matrices: Couger et al (1993) note that the technique builds on a view that complexity
in the world has evolved from simple structures into progressively formal hierarchic systems. To
understand complexity, complex hierarchic systems can be analyzed using a basic property of their
structure: near decomposability. The concept of near decomposability refers to the fact that the
subsystems of some hierarchic systems maintain some, although not total, interdependence from other
subsystems. Decomposable matrices are especially useful for highly system-based problems. The
components of each subsystem are listed and arranged within a matrix. Weights are assigned to each of
the interactions. Relationships between components can then be selected as the focus for generation of
problem solutions. Because this technique forces identification of problem subsystems, their
components, and how they interact, it can cause the emergence of a clearer picture of important
problem elements.
2.2 Analytical thinking
Henrich (2014) argues that, in the context of national culture, various lines of evidence suggest that
greater individualism and more analytical thinking are linked to innovation, novelty, and creativity.
Thinking analytically means breaking things down into their constituent parts and assigning properties
to those parts. Similarities are judged according to rule-based categories, and current trends are
expected to continue. Holistic thinking, by contrast, focuses on relationships between objects or people
anchored in their concrete contexts. Similarity is judged overall, not on the basis of logical rules.
Trends are expected to be cyclical.
Ward (2004) notes that some creativity models include steps such as problem construction, problem
definition, and problem discovery. Implicit or explicit in these models is the belief that the way in
which people conceptualize a problem strongly influences their likelihood of achieving an original or
creative solution. Hender et al (2001) note that experiments have found that decomposing the problem
into separate sub problems, each having its own named dialog, results in the generation of ideas of a
higher quantity and quality than those generated when the problem is left intact. This is because
problem decomposition expands the problem space by focusing attention over the entire problem. In a
similar way, thinking of possible causes of the problem before brainstorming expands the problem
space and leads to the generation of more ideas. Baron (2007) argues that pattern recognition appears to
be closely related to opportunity recognition in the domain of entrepreneurship. This process involves
noticing meaningful patterns in complex events, trends, or changes. In essence, it includes 1)
recognizing links between trends, changes, and events that appear, at first glance, to be unconnected,
and 2) noticing that these connections form an identifiable pattern.
Sternberg (2006) argues that creativity and simply thinking in novel ways are facilitated when people
are willing to put in up-front time to think in new ways. It is found that better thinkers tend to spend
relatively more time than do poorer reasoners in global, up-front meta-componential planning when
they solve difficult, novel-reasoning problems. Poorer reasoners, conversely, tend to spend relatively
more time in local planning. Presumably, the better thinkers recognize that it is better to invest more
time up front so as to be able to process a problem more efficiently later on.
Leron and Hazzan (2009) note that, according to dual-process theory, human cognition and behaviour
operate in parallel in two quite different modes, called System 1 (S1) and System 2 (S2), roughly
corresponding to commonsense notions of intuitive and analytical modes of thinking. These modes
operate in different ways, are activated by different parts of the brain, and have different evolutionary
history (S2 being evolutionarily more recent and, in fact, largely reflecting cultural evolution). The
distinction between perception and cognition is ancient and well known, but the introduction of S1,
which sits midway between perception and (analytical) cognition, is relatively new and has important
consequences for how empirical findings in cognitive psychology are interpreted, including the wide-
ranging rationality debate. Like perception, S1 processes are characterized as being fast, automatic,
effortless, unconscious and inflexible (hard to change or overcome); unlike perceptions, S1 processes
can be language-mediated and relate to events not in the here-and-now. S2 processes are slow,
conscious, effortful, computationally expensive (drawing heavily on working memory resources), and
relatively flexible. The two systems differ mainly on the dimension of accessibility: how fast and how
easily things come to mind. In most situations, S1 and S2 work in concert to produce adaptive
responses, but in some cases (such as the ones concocted in the Heuristics-and-biases and in the
reasoning research), S1 generates quick automatic nonnormative responses, while S2 may or may not
intervene in its role as monitor and critic to correct or override S1’s response. Many of the
nonnormative answers people give in psychological experiments can be explained by the quick and
automatic responses of S1, and the frequent failure of S2 to intervene in its role as critic of S1.
Leron and Hazzan (2009) continue that what is part of human nature need not be innate: humans are
not born walking or talking. What seem to be innate are the motivation and the ability to engage the
species-typical physical and social environment in such a way that the required skill will develop.
Humans do manage to learn many modern skills (such as writing or driving, or some mathematics),
because of the mind’s plasticity and its ability to “co-opt” ancient cognitive mechanisms for new
purposes. Human nature consists, by definition, of a more-or-less fixed collection of traits and
behaviours that all human beings in all cultures acquire spontaneously and automatically under normal
developmental conditions. In their view, System 1 contains all the traits and behaviours that comprise
human nature but, on top of that, also all the traits and behaviors that have become S1 for a particular
culture or a particular person because of specific (nonuniversal) developmental conditions. For
example, learning language is part of human nature and, thus, part of S1 for all human beings under
normal developmental conditions; in contrast, speaking English is not part of human nature but is an S1
skill for people whose mother tongue is English. Similarly, driving a car is not part of human nature but
has become an S1 skill for experienced drivers, as evidenced by their ability to hold an intellectual
conversation (an S2 task, fully engaging the working memory resources) while driving.
In examining mathematics education theory and practice, and mathematical errors, Leron and Hazzan
(2009) conclude that mathematical errors arise, because people do not look deeply into the problem
but, instead, do some routine calculations based on verbal cues. Also, people tend to personalize the
problem (“if I tested positive...”), bringing in a whole baggage of realistic conditions that are abstracted
away in the original formulation. Furthermore, in some cases, “the dormant S2” failed to catch the error
in its role as critic and monitor of S1’s output. The issue lies in the complexity of what S2 is required to
notice and correct the effort and skill required. It appears that heuristic processes cannot lead to
correct integration of diagnostic and base rate information, and so certain (Bayesian) problems can only
be solved analytically.
Epstein et al (1996) note that psychologists from various persuasions have proposed two fundamentally
different modes of processing information: one that has been variously referred to as intuitive, natural,
automatic, heuristic, schematic, prototypical, narrative, implicit, imagistic-nonverbal, experiential,
mythos, and first-signal system; and the other as thinking-conceptual-logical, analytical-rational,
deliberative-effortful-intentional-systematic, explicit, extensional, verbal, logos, and second-signal
system. Appeals to emotions, personal experience, and the use of concrete examples could be more
effective for individuals who process information primarily in an intuitive mode, whereas presenting
facts and logical arguments could be more effective for individuals who process information primarily
in an analytical mode. The global theory of personality referred to as cognitive-experiential self-theory
(CEST), proposes that people process information by two parallel, interactive systems: a rational
system and an experiential system. According to CEST, the rational system operates primarily at the
conscious level and is intentional, analytic, primarily verbal, and relatively affect free. The experiential
system is assumed to be automatic, preconscious, holistic, associationistic, primarily nonverbal, and
intimately associated with affect. Heuristic processing represents the natural mode of the experiential
system. Behaviour and conscious thought are a joint function of the two systems. The systems normally
engage in seamless, integrated interaction, but they sometimes conflict, experienced as a struggle
between feelings and thoughts.
Rusou et al (2013) note that there is considerable agreement among researchers that information in
decision making involves two qualitatively different thinking modes: 1) an intuitive mode characterized
by fast and parallel processes that are affective, holistic, and associative in nature, and 2) a deliberative/
analytical mode characterized by slower processes that are rule based in nature. Despite the above-
mentioned agreement, there are different viewpoints regarding the ways in which these two thinking
modes interact. Identifying the circumstances under which each thinking mode is preferable might help
in understanding the advantages of each mode. In this respect, several researchers have highlighted the
importance of one moderating factor, which is the compatibility between thinking mode and task
characteristics. The nature of the task could be more intuitive or more analytical, depending on task
characteristics. The characteristics of intuitive tasks include high familiarity, pictorial presentation,
subjective measure, and unavailability of an organizing principle or algorithm to integrate cues.
Analytical tasks are characterized by quantitative presentation, objective measures, and an organizing
principle readily available. Analytical deliberation is adequate for tasks that involve objective, easily
verbalized attributes but is less adequate for tasks that involve a large affective component or in which
the dimensions of the stimuli are ill-defined. The intuitive mode is more adequate when nonverbal
information and/ or concrete stimuli are involved, whereas the analytical mode is more adequate when
abstract problems are solved through symbols (numbers and words) and logical inference. The intuitive
mode is used when processing emotion-arousing stimuli that represent events in a manner similar to
how they are experienced in real life. Tasks are more likely to be processed through the intuitive mode
when their context and form promote visual reasoning. Tasks in which participants must follow strict
rules are performed best through analytical deliberation.
Mihov et al (2010) state that the brain's right hemisphere is better at exploring for new possibilities
while the left hemisphere is more likely to result in negative or positive transfer (the application of a
previously learnt concept or pattern to a new problem). A further conclusion is that the right
hemisphere is better at semantically connecting verbal phrases rather than exploring their direct
meaning. A review of the literature also points out several findings that suggest the superiority of the
left hemisphere. One moderator existing in the literature that examines the relative dominance of the
right hemisphere in the processes associated with creativity, is the modality of the task (lexical or
figural). In these studies, a large number of the creativity tasks are in fact lexical in nature. It is, thus,
very likely that: 1) if there were bilateral activation or no relative hemispheric dominance, it could be
due to the left hemisphere being activated to process the information (and not necessarily to contribute
creatively to the task solution); and 2) if there were relative left hemispheric dominance, it could be that
the task requires so much verbal processing that the right-hemisphere activation is overshadowed by
the lexical complexity. Thus, they hypothesize that studies that show relative left hemispheric
activation, verbal tasks will be a significant predictor.
In reflecting on teaching writing, Sams (2003) note the process she has shared with her students since
that first year of teaching, consists of analyzing sentences through a process of questioning that reveals
the precise relationship of every part to the whole. By the time students have worked through the
sequence of sentence types, they have not only developed a deep understanding and conscious
awareness of sentence patterns, but they are able to “see” groups of words as moveable and replaceable
parts, and they understand the changes in meaning and emphasis that occur by adding, deleting,
rearranging, and reforming the parts. Thorough analysis accomplishes in depth what sentence
combining only touches upon, for sentence combining succeeds in drawing attention to some structures
that can be used for expanding a sentence, but it provides neither method nor rationale for choosing one
structure over others. Nor does it instill an understanding of the language system as a whole that gives
students the control over structures they need. The thought process is not a simple matter of word
choice, of finding the precise word. The writer must be able to see the units that are being joined,
identify how they are joined, identify the precise relationship between them, be aware of the variety of
options that exist for expressing that relationship, and choose the one that best fit his meaning. Students
who are taught that words, phrases, and sentences bear specific relationships to one another and who
are taught to carefully analyze these relationships develop an enhanced ability to recognize weak links
in their own and others’ writings. A language unit - a word, phrase, clause, sentence, or paragraph - can
be examined in one of three ways: 1) in isolation from other units, as an entity in and of itself (a
particle); 2) in terms of its relationship to a unit with which it blends (a wave); 3) in terms of its
relationship to other units of the larger ordered system of which it is a part (the sea, or the linguistic
Robbins (2011) notes that, in the solution of a difficult problem, mathematical or otherwise, people
resort to overt responses, vocal or written. In the context of talk aloud problem solving, students
eventually acquire both repertoires and learn not only to speak, but to listen to themselves and adjust
their performance based upon what they hear. The Problem Solver produces a goal directed dialogue,
while the Active Listener evaluates the dialogue for its progress in meeting the problem solving goal.
The students have learned to listen to themselves, evaluate their own effort, and provide verbal
feedback that prompts further action and eliminates alternatives. Sometimes the speaker or Problem
Solver, is unsure or appears to lack confidence; that is, the learner may emit a weak, hesitant, or
incomplete response. The Active Listener, who is the same person as the Problem Solver, may hear the
response and add further dialogue, that prompts yet other responses. It is at those moments when the
Problem Solver’s response is weak, perhaps having forgotten a detail, that the same person as listener
will be able to recognize the correct response even though there was a hesitation in its production. The
reasoning process may also make use of a series of formal or thematic prompts; reading the text of the
problem aloud again may provide an opportunity to inspect the text for the required information.
Students are taught to change the emphasis, to stop at particular words that are key to the meaning.
Robbins (2011) continues that analytical thinking is necessary when an ambiguous situation requires
the learner to identify or create a problem to solve. It involves the reasoning process described before,
but involves a further element of inquiry, often in situations with less well-defined parameters and
outcomes. This skill is required when a learner faces an often ill-defined, more global problem. Where
the problem is not clear, the strategy required is one of inquiry, and to inquire is to question.
Questioning combined with reasoning, thus, is the key to analytical thinking. In John Dewey’s words:
“Thinking is inquiry, investigation, turning over, probing or delving into, so as to find something new
or to see what is already known in a different light. In short, it is questioning.” Questioning, must be
taught separately and added to the learner’s repertoire to produce a true analytical thinker.
Freshwater and Avis (2004) argue that the creative and inventive aspects of analysis and interpretation
should be acknowledged. They propose that the logic of hypothetical reasoning allows just such scope
for innovation. If the nature of analysis is examined more closely, it can be said that it is a process of
breaking down - it is a reductive process. They further propose that the logical structure of critical
reflection upon evidence is based on hypothetical reasoning. Hypothetical reasoning involves building
hypotheses as plausible ways of organizing evidence from which testable consequences can be
deduced. Simply stated, hypothetical reasoning starts from the question: if this hypothesis could be
justified then what consequences might be expected for the observations and theories? The outcome of
considering this question should be regarded as a set of evidence-based hypotheses that are proposed
rather than asserted; whether they contribute to knowledge can be evaluated in terms of pragmatic
criteria, such as convenience and simplicity, when making sense of experience. Analysis uses
supposition to produce a selective reading, a synopsis, one that preserves the basic structures whilst
making new possibilities apparent. The reflective processes of refining questions, selecting events and
observations for inclusion, coding and identifying themes are all integral aspects of analysis, but these
can only be achieved through the application of a working hypothesis.
Freshwater and Avis (2004) further state that, as empirical evidence is subjected to critical reflection,
the analyst develops hypotheses in order to produce patterns and commonalities through a process of
reduction. The meaning of these themes and commonalities is explored by attempting to weave them
into existing theory or by building new hypotheses that allow them to fit with existing theory. However,
the hypotheses that permit the reduction and interpretation are conditional and are held, at first, without
conviction. They are used as convenient explanatory beliefs that may be inchoate and vague, but as the
process of analysis and interpretation proceeds, the analyst attempts to give these beliefs more
determinate content and specific connections with surrounding theory. An integral aspect of hypothesis
testing includes prediction. The analyst working with an explanatory hypothesis will attempt to predict
themes and commonalities to be observed within the evidence, and in future experience. Critical
reflection on evidence has a common underlying logic based on hypothetical reasoning.
2.3 Analogical thinking
Hargadon and Bechky (2006) argue that individuals facing problematic situations find solutions
through a process of analogical reasoning, of trying to make sense of a new situation (the target analog)
by relating it to a more familiar one (the source analog). Analogical problem solving occurs when an
individual recognizes similarities in the new situation to old problems (and their solutions) that he has
learned in the past. Transferring these existing solutions from old problems provides a solution to the
new problem. Ward (2004) argues that analogy, or the mapping of knowledge from a familiar domain
to a less familiar one, is central to creative developments in science, art, music, and literature and may
also have applicability to entrepreneurship, as when a new successful venture is based on the principles
that operate in other current successful ventures. Holyoak and Thagard (1997) describe thinking by
analogy: trying to reason and learn about a new situation (the target analog) by relating it to a more
familiar situation (the source analog) that can be viewed as stucturally parallel. It is also shown how
analogical reasoning can be used to predict or describe possible outcomes, scenarios, or characteristics.
Jee et al (2010) note that, in the geosciences, analogies are extremely common, perhaps because so
much of the field deals with processes and forces that cannot be directly perceived and thus can often
be known only through comparison to something else. Such analogies often serve as frameworks for
knowledge. There are three main steps of the processes of analogical comparison: 1) retrieving
knowledge about the examples in the analogy, 2) comparing the two examples on the basis of the
relationships that they have in common, and 3) making inferences about the examples based on their
common relations. Learning from a physical model also involves projective analogy - in this case
projecting observations and facts about an available source model to an unfamiliar target object or
system. Another important kind of analogy, referred to as mutual alignment analogies, is when the
source and the target are both only partially understood. In these analogies, the two analogs are
typically both from the same domain or topic and are similar enough to be easily alignable. Mutual
alignment analogies can be quite powerful, because they can help students understand both examples
better. In projective analogy, the goal is not only to notice common structure, but to import further
structure from the familiar to the new topic. In contrast, in mutual alignment analogies, the chief goal is
precisely for the student to notice and abstract the common system. Another use of mutual alignment is
for contrast. Once the two examples are aligned, differences connected to the common system stand
Richert et al (2005) note that psychological research on analogical thinking traditionally draws a
distinction between source and target analogs. Analogies postulate links between a particular object,
event, or state of affairs (the “target” analog) and some previously independent object, event, or state of
affairs (the “source” analog). Analogical reasoning has been defined as “the process of understanding a
novel situation in terms of one that is already familiar”, suggesting that source analogs consist of
familiar situations and target analogs consist of novel ones. This definition has serious drawbacks,
however. Some instances of analogical thinking are based on the recognition of connections between
two situations that are both novel or that are both familiar. They maintain that what is characteristic of
spontaneous analogical thinking is that the connections it proposes are novel, insofar as the person is
drawing parallels that he has not recognized before (even if others have already done so at least partly
by independent means). There are three general constraints that guide the selection of analogical
comparisons. These constraints are similarity, structure, and purpose.
Bonnardel and Marmèche (2004) note that analogy-making is usually described as allowing two kinds
of analogies: 1) intradomain analogies, when the target (e.g. the situation or problem at hand) and the
source (a previous similar situation) belong to the same conceptual domain; and 2) interdomain
analogies, when the target and the source belong to different conceptual domains. In addition,
relationships are established between the target and the source. Intradomain analogies would be based
on both surface similarities and structural similarities between the target and the source, whereas
interdomain analogies would be based only on structural similarities (or underlying principles) between
the target and the sources.
Gassmann and Zeschky (2008) notes that analogical thinking happens if a familiar problem is used to
solve a novel problem of the same type. Non-obvious analogies may entail highly novel solutions
because the combination of more distant pieces of knowledge is associated with higher innovative
potential. From cognitive psychology perspective, analogical thinking entails the transfer of knowledge
from one domain that usually already exists in memory to the domain to be explained. Management
scholars have argued that the use of analogies typically includes the transfer of knowledge, where
knowledge acquired in one situation is applied to another. Similarity of some basic elements between
the source where the problem origins (i.e. the problem source) and the source where the analogy is
found (i.e. the solution source) is a vital precondition for analogies to be identified. Similarity has also
been described in a continuum from “near” or “surface” analogies to “far” or “structural” analogies.
Near analogies are much easier identified than far analogies, as near analogies often entail obvious
surface similarities such as similar design, while far analogies typically entail similarities in the
structural relationships between source and target attributes. Near and far analogies require different
types of information to be mapped and transferred. With near analogies both surface-level attributes
and relations between the attributes are mapped and transferred, while the lack of surface-level
attributes of far analogies leaves the mapping to occur between common relations. The identification of
far analogies requires the identification of similarities in the relational (vs. surface) structure between
the problem and the solution source, which is often difficult when surface similarities are completely
absent. However, if successfully implemented, far or structural analogies serve as the base for “mental
leaps” and can lead to radical innovation. abstracting the problem by in-depth technical and contextual
analysis is pivotal when searching for analogical solutions.
Gentner (2010) states that, according to structure-mapping theory, human comparison involves a
process of establishing a structural alignment between two represented situations and then projecting
inferences. The commonalities and differences between two situations are found by determining the
maximal structurally consistent alignment between the representations of the two situations. As a
natural outcome of the alignment process, candidate inferences are projected from the base to the
target. These inferences are propositions connected to the common system in one analog, but not yet
present in the other. Achieving a structural alignment sets the stage for four kinds of learning:
abstraction, contrast, inference-projection, and re-representation. In abstraction, the common system
resulting from the alignment becomes more salient and more available for future use. In contrast,
alignable differences - differences that occupy the same role in the two systems - are highlighted.
Inference-projection occurs when one member of the pair is more complete in its structure than the
other; in this case, spontaneous candidate inferences will be made that enrich the less-complete item. A
further way that learning can occur is re-representation: If there is good reason to believe two (non-
identical) relations should match (e.g., a very good overall structural match), then one or both of the
nonmatching predicates may be re-represented to permit the overall match.
2.4 Imaginary thinking
Zeki (2001) states that how the brain forms abstractions is a central problem in cognitive neurobiology.
Through a process that is only now beginning to be physiologically charted, cells in the brain seem to
be able to recognize objects in a view-invariant manner after brief exposure to several distinct views,
which they obviously synthesize.
Pelaprat and Cole (2011) propose a theory of imagination as a biologically required, culturally-
mediated, temporally-variable process - and not as a frozen function. They characterize imagination as
a “gap-filling” process. While “images” are the catch-all term for the products of imagination, the
image is itself heterogeneous and heterochronous, since it depends on the conditions and constraints in
which the process of gap-filling unfolds; that is, on the conditions on which a stable image can be
produced by an individual who begins to sense their self as a self in that world. It is widely assumed
that imagination comes into play only when an object is absent from the senses. This starting point also
unwittingly assumes that “presence to the senses” is a condition of perception. Existing evidence
indicates that both assumptions are untenable and that the reduction of imagination to perception or
fantasy is mistaken. Imagination is present in a primitive, yet clear form, even when an object is present
to the senses (the argument here is focused on vision, but the point is believed to be quite general). This
alternative conception compels an understanding of imagination as a basic, pervasive, and distributed
faculty of materially embodied thought and action, as opposed to a marginal, specialized activity of the
mind. In their view, the physiology of perception warrants the conclusion that it is incorrect to think of
imagination as a process occurring only in the absence of the imagined object. Instead, it seems
necessary for human cognition that individuals constantly engage in a process of image formation.
Image formation is the “connecting bridge” between two states of experience: one conditioned by the
phylogenetic history of the human species, the other by the cultural-historical environment and history
of experience. What this bridging process entails - and what the results of the fixed image experiment
indicate - is that human beings are by nature always engaged in a process of image formation - of
imagination. They are constantly engaged in this image formation process because, in fact, they are
situated between nature and culture; both act as constraints, as principles that make thought possible,
on the condition that a third term - the individual’s “resolving activity,” or “gap-filling” - is involved.
Vygotsky (1991) describes pathological cases and notes that what is seen in these cases, in a clear,
sharp and extremely graphic form, may be regarded as representing a complete anti-thesis to fantasy
and creativity. There exists examples of a form of behaviour in which there is a complete absence of
any elements of imagination and creativity. A person who is capable of pouring himself a glass of water
from a carafe when thirst motivates him to do so, but who is incapable of performing the same action at
another time, or a person who cannot repeat a sentence which says that the weather is bad when the
weather is good: All this tells a lot which is significant and fundamental for the understanding of what
underlies fantasy and creativity, and what links them to those higher intellectual functions which have
become disturbed and disrupted in such cases. It can even be said that the behaviour observed in these
patients is striking, above all, by the fact that it is not free. The person cannot do something which is
not directly motivated by an actual situation. What appears to be beyond his ability is to create a
situation or to modify it in such a way as to become free of the immediate influence of external and
internal stimuli. Herder's thesis states that the language of thinking is the language of freedom
(Vygotsky, 1991:269). Gelb develops this idea further when he says: “It is only man who is capable of
doing something which is senseless” (Vygotsky, 1991:269). This illustrate the straight-forward idea that
imagination and creativity are linked to a free reworking of various elements of experience, freely
combined, and which, as a precondition, without fail, require the level of inner freedom of thought,
action and cognizing which only he who has mastered thinking in concepts can achieve.
Vygotsky (1991) continues that it is not just that the adolescent experiences a severe distortion of the
relative proportion of things, and that the structures of the intellectual functions are transmitted in an
inaccurate form, but that the very process of imagination and creativity acquires a wrong interpretation.
This false interpretation of fantasy is due to it being viewed one-sidedly, as a function which is linked
to emotional life, the life of inclinations and sentiments; but its other side, which is linked to
intellectual life, remains obscure. But, as Pushkin has aptly remarked, “imagination is as necessary in
geometry as it is in poetry” (Vygotsky, 1991:270). Everything that necessitates artistic transformation
of reality, everything that leads to inventiveness and the creation of anything new, requires the
indispensable participation of fantasy. In this sense some writers quite rightly contrapose fantasy as
creative imagination to memory as reproductive imagery. Whilst thinking in concepts is characterized
by its existence in the realm of the abstract and general, imagination exists in the concrete sphere.
Vygotsky (1991) further states that it would not be quite correct to regard the function of fantasy as an
exclusively visual, imagistic and concrete activity. Quite rightly, it has been pointed out that the same
sort of visual quality is also characteristic of the imagery of memory. On the other hand, activity of a
schematic or barely visual type is also present in fantasy. According to Lindworsky (Vygotsky,
1991:274), if we limit fantasy exclusively to the realm of visual conceptions, and remove any aspects
of thinking from it, then it would not be possible to describe a poetic creation as a product of the
activity of fantasy! In exactly the same way, Meumann disagrees with Lau's point of view, who saw the
difference between fantasy and thinking in the fact that the former operates in visual images and does
not contain any elements of abstract thinking (Vygotsky, 1991:274). Meumann states that elements of
abstract thinking are never absent from our images and perceptions. And there is no way in which they
could not be there, because in an adult the entire conceptual material exists in a form which has been
reworked by abstract thinking. Wundt has also expressed the same idea when he objected to fantasy
being regarded as simply the work of visual conceptions (Vygotsky, 1991:274).
LeBoutillier and Marks (2003) state that, in the last three decades, there has been a steady flow of
empirical papers investigating the role of mental imagery in the creative process. Although a diverse
range of inventive protocols has been developed, two standard approaches dominate the research
literature. The first of these, the individual differences approach, focuses upon a hypothesized
association between self-reported mental imagery and divergent thinking measures. The second, the
image generation approach, employs protocols that investigate the emergence of creativity through the
visualization of specific forms. A review of the individual differences approach to mental imagery and
the creative process suggests that the main stimulus for empirical research of this kind is the anecdotal
evidence provided by historically creative individuals. Reports of the association between mental
imagery and creativity in the development of history-making ideas abound. Shepard (1978) emphasizes
the importance of the voluntary manipulation of mental images (e.g. the mental rotation of stimuli). He
provides non-empirical support through reports of the use of mental transformations by creative people.
Suler (1980) believes that creativity follows from the emergence of an unconscious flow of imaginings
(primary process thinking).
LeBoutillier and Marks (2003) continue that, even though reports of the association of mental imagery
with creativity vary in style, form, content, and context, the empirical research has adopted two fairly
stable protocols. The most frequently employed of these, the individual difference approach, pays scant
attention to the explanatory accounts of the use of mental imagery in creativity. Rather, it seems to be
grounded in the observations of creative individuals and simple threshold notions. Based on the
assumption that mental imagery and creativity are continuous variables, the basic tenet is that differing
degrees of imagery ability (and possibly additional prerequisite attributes or contexts) reflect differing
creativity abilities. A review of papers employing the individual differences approach reveals an
association principle. That is, the protocol searches for degrees of association between mental imagery
and creativity variables. The measures used in the approach are roughly summarized as: 1) a self-report
measure(s) of an aspect of mental imagery (normally control or vividness); 2) a test(s) of divergent
thinking which provides individual measures of fluency, flexibility, and originality; 3) an intervening
variable that is hypothesized to clarify the association between measures 1 and 2 (e.g. intelligence,
verbal ability, cognitive style, instruction to image).
LeBoutillier and Marks (2003) note that the reports of Faraday and Einstein lay claim to an atypical
non-verbal thinking. Also, a large proportion of historically creative individuals report having
synaesthesia, a form of mental imagery reported in only 20% of the population. It is also noted that,
even though extraordinary individuals all used their mental images in extraordinarily creative ways, the
actual images themselves did not differ in extraordinary ways. They note that mental images, and their
reported associations to creativity, are found in such a variety of forms that it would not be reasonable
to assume a defining feature of mental images in creativity.
Folkmann (2010) sees imagination as the capacity or the faculty of consciousness to envision things
that are not present in the physical world that surround us. “Imaging” and “imagery” is not something
intangible which takes place in a mysterious “medium”, i.e. the mind; instead “imaging is a doing” that
alludes to the thinkable, and this means: to the do-able.
Antonietti and Colombo (2011) state that mental images - a kind of representation people often employ
in everyday life - play a facilitating role in thought processes as a means of simulation and as a means
of symbolization. With simulation, the images allow a person to anticipate mentally the actual
operations and the physical changes and provide an internal representation that keeps analogical
correspondence with the outside world. With symbolization, mental images stand for objects or
concrete events, which are replaced by conventional signs. In the first case, images are useful because
they offer the opportunity to view the mental consequences of the situation that the representation in
verbal or abstract terms does not make immediately obvious. In the second case, the images help one to
mentally manipulate the elements of a situation, because mental images require less memory load than
other representations, thus allowing smooth and rapid transformations of elements.
Antonietti and Colombo (2011) note that, with more specific reference to creativity, the search for
similarities and differences and the identification of links between distant realities are facilitated by
mental images that are sensitive to structural symmetries and organizations. These mental images allow
one to modify data so that the changes which are to be produced in reality may be more flexibly
simulated in the mind. Furthermore, mental images allow one to reorganize the way in which one
represents a situation so that it can be reconsidered in a more productive manner. Finally, the mental
representation of information in visual form can help one by providing a pictorial form for abstract
concepts, thus allowing simultaneous representation of various elements of a situation which thereby
facilitates the identification of relationships between the various elements. Mental images can therefore
help the creative process because the representation is particularly flexible, easily convertible, and
useful to combine multiple elements into a new concept.
Couger et al (1993) note that Albert Einstein used what he called mental experiments to stimulate new
perspectives and ideas. He once imagined himself as a tiny being riding through space on a ray of light,
which helped him develop his general theory of relativity. Heppner et al (1994) argue that guided
imagery in career counseling is a structured activity in which the counselor provides guidelines to spur
the imaginations of their clients. Internal images can be a motivational and inspiring way to capture
occupational daydreams that clients may frequently experience. Daydreams concerning one’s career are
often predictive of future vocational choice. Guided imagery is divided into the following three distinct
parts: 1) inducing a relaxed state, 2) describing the fantasy itself, and 3) processing the fantasy. The
actual image developed for the career client can take any form. For example, the counselor may assist
the client in imagining a day at work that takes place 10 years in the future. The counselor could
provide such parameters as: How do you get to work? With whom do you work? What is the setting?
How did you like your job? What happens during a typical day? Questions like these used as a guided
imagery provided a framework for the person to begin to think creatively and focus on career choice.
2.5 Intuitive thinking
López-González and Limb (2012) note that, as great jazz performers expertly improvise solo passages,
they make immediate decisions about which musical phrases to invent and to play, on the spot. They
further note that studying the effects of emotion during creation may be another piece to the puzzle of
what, how, and why we create. After all, a general social assumption is that emotion guides much of
artistic creation. Sawyer (2000) notes a five-hour improvisation of Picasso: In his studio, Picasso is
painting free-form, without preconceived image or composition; he is experimenting with colours,
forms, and moods. He starts with a figure of a reclining nude - but then loses interest, and the curve of
the woman's leg reminds him of a matador's leg as he flies through the air after being gored by a bull -
so he paints over the nude and creates an image of a bull and matador. But this leads him to yet another
idea; he paints over the bullfight image and begins work on a Mediterranean harbour - with water-skier,
bathers in bikinis, and a picturesque hilltop village. The free-form inspiration continues. Five hours
later, Picasso stops and declares that he will have to discard the canvas - it has not worked. But the time
was not wasted - he has discovered some new ideas, ideas that have emerged from his interaction with
the canvas, ideas that he can use in his next painting. Picasso says, "Now that I begin to see where I'm
going with it, I'll take a new canvas and start again."
Dayan and Di Benedetto (2011) argue that intuition may unconsciously integrate experience and
knowledge of employees into responsive and productive decision-making and, ultimately, into
innovative solutions, particularly under rapidly changing, turbulent environmental decisions. The
perspective is raised that cognition and intuition are two ends of a continuum and thus mutually
exclusive, rather than orthogonal constructs. They formally define intuition as “a nonconscious, holistic
processing mode in which judgements are made with no awareness of rules of knowledge used for
inference and can feel right despite one’s inability to articulate the reason”. This definition implies that
intuitive decisions are executed rapidly upon the basis of an unconscious reasoning process which may
have an affective component such as gut feeling, hunches, and “sixth sense”. Intuition unconsciously
integrates one’s attributes of knowledge, intelligence, experience, and respect for the unknown into
responsive and productive decision-making and, ultimately, into action.
Raidl and Lubart (2001) argue that a common denominator of intuitive phenomena is a feeling of
knowing and “knowing without knowing why”. Common usage of the term “intuition” often contrasts
it with explicit logical thinking and suggests the existence of three different kinds of intuition. First,
one can distinguish “socio-affective intuition,” which concerns interpersonal relations and operates
typically when seeking to understand a person or a situation. It includes sensitivity to other people’s
needs and feelings, immediate liking or disliking, and the ability to understand and manage situations
involving emotional parameters. This kind of intuition is similar to what Bergson saw as “intellectual
sympathy,which connects one person to another. A second type of intuition may be called “applied
intuition,” which is directed toward solution of a problem or accomplishment of a task. Many famous
scientists, painters, or writers report having experienced this kind of intuition. Applied intuition helps
people make specific decisions, as, for example, in managerial settings. Finally there are intuitions that
do not arise in reaction to socioaffective stimuli or a specific search process. This third type of
intuition, labeled “free intuition”, involves a feeling of foreboding concerning the future. Winston
Churchill was well-known for having such precognitions, as when he once had the feeling that he
should sit in the car on the side opposite to where he sat usually, and later a bomb exploded under his
usual seat.
Raidl and Lubart (2001) note that Jung was one of the first researchers to formulate a psychological
conception of intuition, proposing that it was one of four basic psychic functions. He defined it as an
unconscious, internally-oriented mode of perception, as opposed to sensation which he viewed as a
conscious, extemally-oriented mode of perception that relies on one’s sensory organs (e.g., visual or
auditory perception). Westcott conceived of intuition as an inference-making mode of thought (used to
make judgments and predictions) that used limited information and tended to yield correct conclusions.
Considering that the processes underlying this ability were akin to inductive reasoning, Westcott
situated the difference between ordinary induction and intuition in the gap between the available
evidence and the intuitive conclusion. He developed tasks to measure intuition that involved making
decisions based on partial information. These tasks seem to rely on the trait of risk taking and speed of
closure, an intellectual ability.
Raidl and Lubart (2001) further note the development of research specifically on the processes
involved in intuitive thought, over the last decade. Ochse considers that there is good reason for
attributing intuitive thinking to the operation of mental routines, unconsciously triggered by
configurations of exogenous and/ or endogenous stimuli”. For Rosenblatt and Thickstun, intuition
arises when a perceived pattern is unconsciously matched to another formerly perceived one that has
been stored in memory. Bowers defined intuition as an implicit perception of coherence: the successive
clues to coherence activate relevant mnemonic networks until a certain threshold is reached, upon
which the coherence can be consciously identified. For Isenberg, intuition involves synthesizing
isolated bits of data into an integrated whole. And Rowan proposed that “the mind organizes
experiences, relationships and facts into a new condensed pattern which becomes an intuitive feeling”.
Policastro defined creative intuition as a “vague, anticipatory perception that orients creative work in a
promising direction,” a kind of tacit knowledge that influences the search for new ideas and the criteria
used to evaluate these ideas.
Torrance (1993) notes a conceptualization of the creative thinking process as taking place in the
preconscious system. The preconscious is able to scan experiences and memories, to condense, to join
opposites, and to find relations at speeds impossible in the conscious system. The resulting intuitions,
however, are not very precise and are subject to the primary-process type of thinking. Creative thinking
is described as the process of sensing difficulties, problems, gaps in information, missing elements,
something askew; making guesses and formulating hypotheses about these deficiencies; evaluating and
testing these guesses and hypotheses; possibly revising and retesting them; and, last, communicating
the results.
Duch (2007) argues that the three most important (and most mysterious) faculties of the mind needed
for intelligent behavior are intuition, imagination and creativity. Babies and animals do not reason,
making logical inferences, be it crisp or fuzzy, but even birds use intuition, imagination and creativity
to solve problems. Computers need to show similar qualities. The word “intuitive” in biology,
psychology, mathematics, physics and sociology is treated as a synonym of naïve understanding in
these fields. Yet in everyday activity very few people (and certainly no animals) base their decisions on
logical analysis of all options. Most cognitive functions, such as understanding of human and animal
intentions and emotional states, meaning of words or creative thinking, cannot be reduced to logical
operations. Intuition is defined in dictionaries as immediate knowing without the conscious use of
reasoning, or cognition without evident rational thought and inference. Deliberate thinking is critical,
analytic and reasoning-like, while intuitive thinking is rapid, effortless, and perception-like. From a
computational perspective modeling intuition is relatively simple. Decisions of neural networks (or
other models) that learn from data frequently cannot be justified in terms of logical rules. In some cases
logical rules that have similar or even higher predictive power may be extracted from trained neural
networks. In other cases judgements based on overall similarity provide better decisions.
Duch (2007) continues that neurocognitive models inspired by the putative processes in the brain show
that these mysterious features (intuition, imagination and creativity) are a consequence of information
processing in complex networks. Intuition is manifested in categorization based on evaluation of
similarity, when decision borders are too complex to be reduced to logical rules. It is also manifested in
heuristic reasoning based on partial observations, where network activity selects only the path that may
lead to the solution, excluding all bad moves. Insight results from reasoning at the higher, non-verbal
level of abstraction that comes from involvement of the right hemisphere networks forming large
“linguistic receptive fields”. Psychologists have noticed that rules and similarity judgements form a
continuum, with logical rules (including threshold logic and fuzzy logic rules) applicable in relatively
simple cases, while prototype-based rules are applicable in situations when many factors are
simultaneously taken into account for similarity judgements. For example, medical doctors may use
simple norms based on thresholds for some tests, but in case of emergency they have to make fast
intuitive judgements, taking many factors into account. Experience leads to intuition, and it is
obviously related to similarity evaluation and memorization of many prototypes. Even for simple
benchmark medical data, a single P-rule may offer more accurate explanation than sets of logical rules.
Duch (2007) further notes that intuition is usually invoked in the context of reasoning and decision
making. Herbert Simon has claimed that AI has reached the stage where intuition, inspiration and
insight could be modeled. Intuition in problem solving has two defining characteristics: 1) the solution
has to be reached rapidly, and 2) an explanation why the steps leading to the solution have been
selected, can not be given. In various experiments novices and experts solving the same problem were
compared, and the use of intuition has been clearly correlated with the ability to evaluate similarity, and
with the number of patterns stored in long term memory. Knowledge obtained through implicit learning
or derived from partial observations (in contrast to the usual supervised learning situation, when full
knowledge is provided) over a long period of time cannot be used directly in explicit reasoning. It is
represented in a diffuse, rather weak connections, partially in the right brain hemisphere, and thus
cannot be accurately summarized in symbolic form. The brain constantly learns to pay attention to
relevant features and remembers many patterns. Even in tasks for which rules of correct actions exist
intuitive learning comes before rules are discovered.
Duch (2007) argues that good car drivers may have problems recalling driving rules; they just make
correct assumptions and predictions. If the problem admits more than one solution, how likely is it that
a student will find all solutions? This should depend on the working memory load, or complexity of the
search, needed to find all solutions. In complex situations hierarchical decomposition of the problem is
necessary, depending on the questions asked. For example, elements of complex electrical circuits may
be decomposed into larger blocks, there is no need to assign values to all variables. People in such
cases analyze the graphical structure of connections and nodes representing the problem, starting with
the elements mentioned in the problem statement. Duch (2007) notes several software implementations
of algorithms for learning from partial observations that quickly find all solutions if many discrete
feature values are missing. Problems of this type are somewhere in between pattern recognition and
symbolic reasoning problems. Neural networks may be used as heuristics to constrain search processes
(a core AI technology) in problem solving. Robots, including autonomous vehicles, need to combine
reasoning with pattern recognition in real time. Intuitive evaluation of possible solutions to global goals
may help to generate rough plans, and to find optimal patterns for behaviour of a robot.
Duch (2007) states that intuition and insight have some similarities, but the sudden Aha! experience
that accompanies solutions of some problems has distinct character. Insight is usually preceded by an
impasse, frustration after a period of lack of progress, followed by conviction of the imminence of the
solution, frequently after a period of incubation when the problem is set aside. A new way of looking at
the problem that leads to the solution is accompanied by a great excitement and understanding. The
mild version of an Aha! experience is fairly common during discussions when a difficult concept or a
confusing description of some situation is finally grasped. The initial process of searching for the
solution reaches dead end, but during the search new features are constructed and stored in the long-
term memory. Thereafter the failure control mechanism shifts search to another problem space, and
new control structures for this process are created in the short term memory. With additional features of
the problem generated in previous runs, the new search has greater chances to succeed. However, this
explanation may be applied to typical attempts of solving a problem by using several different
strategies, without any Aha! Experience.
Duch (2007) continues that only recently neuroscience has provided a deeper understanding of the
insight phenomenon. Studies using functional MRI and EEG techniques contrasted insight with
analytical problem solving that did not require insight. An increased activity in the right hemisphere
anterior superior temporal gyrus (RH-aSTG) has been observed during initial solving efforts and during
insights. This area is probably involved in higher-level abstractions that can facilitate indirect
associations. About 300 ms before insights occurred, bursts of gamma activity has been observed. This
has been interpreted as making connections across distantly related information during comprehension
that allow them to see connections that previously eluded them. A series of fMRI experiments confirms
these results. According to this interpretation, initial impasse is due to the inability of the left
hemisphere, focused on the problem, to make progress. This deadlock is removed when the less-
focused right hemisphere adds relevant information, allowing new associations to be formed. An Aha!
experience may result from activation by the pre-existing weak solution in the right hemisphere,
suddenly reaching consciousness when the activation of the left hemisphere is decreased. High-activity
gamma bursts, observed in the insight experiments, influence the left hemisphere priming larger
subnetworks with sufficient strength to form associative connections that link the problem statement
through a series of intermediate transitions to the partial or final solution. Such solutions may initially
be difficult to justify, therefore the feeling of vague but imminent understanding is generated, replaced
by real understanding when all intermediate steps are correctly linked. The solution may be surprising,
comprising quite a different idea than initially entertained. Gamma bursts also activate emotions,
increasing plasticity of the cortex and facilitating formation of new associations. Emotional reaction
should be proportional to the difficulty of forming new associations, therefore grasping a new, difficult
concept in a discussion generates only a mild reaction, while solving a difficult problem generates
strong emotions, activating the reward system.
Dietrich (2007) states that the prefrontal cortex has three main functions in creativity, namely: 1)
gaining consciousness of novel thoughts, which become insights when represented in working
memory; 2) recruiting higher cognitive functions in developing the insight, including central executive
processing such as the direction of attention, retrieving relevant memories, and considering the
appropriateness of the insight to the problem; and 3) implementing the expression of the insight, which
involves recruiting task-specific skills, techniques and knowledge. Creative insights can occur in one of
two processing modes – spontaneous and deliberate – and either of these can direct operations in one or
both of two structures – emotional or cognitive – giving rise to four basic types of creativity. Examples
of creative insights which employ the deliberate mode of processing for cognitive structures are those
which involve high levels of knowledge and expertise, and the methodical, systematic linking of
different pieces of information so as to create an overall pattern such as might occur in scientific
breakthroughs like Crick and Watson’s decoding of the structure of DNA. Creativity which employs the
deliberate mode of processing for emotional structures is also seen as methodical and systematic, and
this is applied to affective memories, such as insights achieved during psychotherapy. The third type,
insights in which a spontaneous processing mode is applied to cognitive systems, are those in which
sudden illumination or “Eureka” experiences are reported, such as in Newton’s insights into the nature
of gravity when watching an apple falling from a tree, or indeed Archimedes’ original Eureka
experience when he displaced the water in his own bathtub. Finally, when the spontaneous processing
mode is used on emotional structures, the creative insights involve intense emotional experiences, such
as in the creation of Picasso’s Guernica, or of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring.
Raidl and Lubart (2001) view intuition as a perceptual process, constructed through a mainly
subconscious act of linking disparate elements of information. This intuitive mode of information
processing is favoured by an ambiguous or poorly structured context, and taps four kinds of
information sources: 1) external stimuli (e.g., a person, a place, a situation, a sound etc.) which often
trigger an intuition; 2) memory (sensory, episodic, semantic...), in particular implicit memory, that is,
all the experience acquired over time, routines, or know-how, 3) emotions, which constitute a vast
reservoir of information; and 4) subconscious concerns, which result in the activation of certain
representations and can have a priming effect. Intuition is shaped out of the connection between some
of these elements. It may be that only one element serves to initiate an intuitive feeling, for example, a
strong emotion, not explicitly appearing in reaction to an external stimulus. Usually, however, several
elements interact in order to produce an intuition. The fact that intuitions seem often to appear without
a clear reason is due to the subconscious nature of the associative processes and to the fact that they
allow very distant content areas to be put together. Two points are important in the underlying process
of information combination. First, encodings need to be rich. An intuitive person is one who perceives
and stores many environmental cues which may be subtle and non-explicit (e.g. non-verbal
communication). Second, concerning the combination of diverse elements of information, several
processes may come into play. For example, inductive reasoning and logical extrapolation from known
data seem involved together with more subjective processes such as empathy, projection, or emotional
resonance. Finally, associative processes such as metaphorical and analogical thinking may be at work.
Kolanczyk has stated the importance of metaphors in intuition: “one of the most effective ways of
activating intuitions is through metaphor... (it) associates concepts with episodes and sensory
experience. This is probably a side door into the search of meaning formation in intuition”.
Harvey and Novicevic (2002) note that it has been theorized that expatriates who have a heightened
intuitive intelligence (that is, the part of an individual's “intelligence” which concentrates on the
possibilities, less concerned with details or facts, and finds solutions directly without necessarily basing
decisions on known facts - the ability to gain quick insights into how to make decisions, frequently
referred to as “street smarts”) will be more successful. The organizational benefits of using the intuition
of expatriate managers during their overseas assignments are: 1) expedited decision making process; 2)
a qualitative improvement of decisions by relying on experiential base of informal knowledge that is
not generic to the organization; 3) facilitated personal development by building personal self-efficacy
of the expatriate decision-maker (having insights and confidence that others do not have in making
decisions in complex environments); and 4) promoting decision compatibility with the headquarters
goals and mission due to the shared experiential insights into these issue. The intuitive expatriates can
provide specific experiential insights relevant for the interrelated organizational processes or routines.
These insights are rooted in the expatriate's intuition, given past experience and success in making
accepted decisions in the organization. Coupled with the concomitant social capital that the expatriate
has built over time in the organization's headquarters, it is logical to conclude that the expatriates will
have a high self-efficacy, thereby enhancing their ability to use their intuition to make future decisions.
In many ways, intuition suspends the bounds of rationality in unstable and complex environments like
hypercompetitive markets to permit the expatriate decision-maker to intuitively frame particularly
complex problems that they have not faced before and at the same time propose potential effective
solutions. Expatriate managers have to trust their judgements and overcome their fear to use intuition,
in that, it is not merely an emotional reaction to complexity, but rather can be an evolved means to
estimate how to address “unknowns” in the environmental framework. The most important element of
using expatriate intuition is the speed with which decisions can be made, and recognizing that intuition
is critical for agility in hyper-competitive situations.
Harvey and Novicevic (2002) continue that there is evidence that supports the contention that tacit
knowledge of an operating environment stimulates the use of intuition and provides the incentive for an
expatriate to be a creative action-oriented decision maker. When expatriate managers are faced with
complex unfamiliar decisions, but yet have tacit knowledge of how the organization works (as well as,
what is the acceptable level of risk taking), they can successfully improvise in their decision-making
processes. Managerial improvisation is the enactment of action as it unfolds, by drawing on available
material, cognitive, affective and social resources. Improvisation has a deliberate intentional element as
well as an extemporaneous unplanned dimension that are based on “acting on the moment”.
Improvisation is a critical concept relative to expatriate intuitive intelligence in that it provides
foresight for decision making in unexpected situations, or when the dynamics of the environment does
not allow for a preplanned course of action. In these situations, the intuitive intelligence activates the
expatriate manager's ability to use improvisation to develop strategies on the “run”. This ability to
reflect and act simultaneously is frequently referred to as an evolved “gut knowledge” that
differentiates excellent from average expatriate managers. Intuitive intelligence becomes the enabling
mechanism for expatriate managers to improvise when the complexity of the environmental change is
very high, and there is limited past experience for making decisions. One of the key considerations in
assessing the creative intelligence of expatriates is to examine their ability to recognize patterns and/ or
to be able categorize people, events, environments into classification schemes of opportunity. Patterns
are also useful when attempting to integrate two systems or organizations (home and host country). By
recognizing similar patterns between two entities in different environments, the expatriate manager is
able to determine what aspects do not need to be relearned or modified between the foreign and the
home environments. The ability to categorize problems into classification schemata learned in their
domestic experience enables expatriates to pay selective attention to exceptions or problems in the
hypercompetitive global marketplace that need creative solutions.
2.6 Learning
Siegler (2006) notes that the relation between learning and development (short-term and long-term
change; micro-development and macro-development) is among the enduring issues in developmental
psychology. Some theorists view the two as similar. Others see them as fundamentally dissimilar. One
view is that development creates new cognitive structures; learning merely fill in specific content.
Nuangchalerm and Thammasena (2009) note that, in science education, inquiry-based learning allows
students to learn by doing, and students learn how to solve problems by themselves. This method is a
complex, but realistic process in which students use their prior knowledge and scientific theories to
generate new understandings of science. The idea of teaching science by inquiry method encourage
students to explore and experiment with their own concepts of science. In addition, inquiry-based
learning can be related to the diverse ways in which scientists study the natural world and propose
explanations based on evidence derived from their work. It includes the activities of students in which
they develop knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas, as well as an understanding of how
scientists study the natural world.
Hargadon and Bechky (2006) note that, within the organizations they studied, individuals chose social
interactions that retained the equivocality of past experiences - the multiple meanings that might be
considered and reapplied in a new context. As one Hewlett-Packard engineer described: When you read
about somebody’s experience and then actually go and talk to them about it you find the level of
knowledge is so much deeper than what can be transferred through a paper or an hour-long talk.
There’s a wealth of hidden knowledge that’s a result of the struggles, the agonizing they went through
to try to figure out what’s the right way to proceed rather than the wrong way.
Kolb et al (2001) argue that experiental learning theory (ELT) is distinct from both cognitive learning
theories, which tend to emphasize cognition over affect, and behavioural learning theories that deny
any role for subjective experience in the learning process. Experiential learning theory defines learning
as the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience. Knowledge
results from the combination of grasping and transforming experience. The ELT model portrays two
dialectically related modes of grasping experience - Concrete Experience (CE) and Abstract
Conceptualization (AC) - and two dialectically related modes of transforming experience Reflective
Observation (RO) and Active Experimentation (AE). Immediate or concrete experiences are the basis
for observations and reflections. These reflections are assimilated and distilled into abstract concepts
from which new implications for action can be drawn. These implications can be actively tested and
serve as guides in creating new experiences. In grasping experience some perceive new information
through experiencing the concrete, tangible, felt qualities of the world, relying on the senses and
immersing themselves in concrete reality. Others tend to perceive, grasp, or take hold of new
information through symbolic representation or abstract conceptualizationthinking about, analyzing,
or systematically planning, rather than using sensation as a guide. Similarly, in transforming or
processing experience some tend to carefully watch others who are involved in the experience and
reflect on what happens, while others choose to jump right in and start doing things. The watchers
favour reflective observation, while the doers favor active experimentation.
Kolb et al (2001) continue that ELT follows Carl Jung in recognizing that learning styles result from
individuals’ preferred ways for adapting in the world. There are four prevalent learning styles -
Diverging, Assimilating, Converging, and Accommodating. The Diverging style’s dominant learning
abilities are Concrete Experience (CE) and Reflective Observation (RO). People with this learning style
are best at viewing concrete situations from many different points of view. People with a Diverging
learning style have broad cultural interests and like to gather information. Research shows that they are
interested in people, tend to be imaginative and emotional, have broad cultural interests, and tend to
specialize in the arts. In formal learning situations, people with the Diverging style prefer to work in
groups, listening with an open mind and receiving personalized feedback. The Assimilating style’s
dominant learning abilities are Abstract Conceptualization (AC) and Reflective Observation (RO).
People with this learning style are best at understanding a wide range of information and putting into
concise, logical form. Individuals with an Assimilating style are less focused on people and more
interested in ideas and abstract concepts. Generally, people with this style find it more important that a
theory have logical soundness than practical value. The Assimilating learning style is important for
effectiveness in information and science careers. In formal learning situations, people with this style
prefer readings, lectures, exploring analytical models, and having time to think things through.
Kolb et al (2001) expand that the Converging style’s dominant learning abilities are Abstract
Conceptualization (AC) and Active Experimentation (AE). People with this learning style are best at
finding practical uses for ideas and theories. They have the ability to solve problems and make
decisions based on finding solutions to questions or problems. Individuals with a Converging learning
style prefer to deal with technical tasks and problems rather than with social issues and interpersonal
issues. These learning skills are important for effectiveness in specialist and technology careers. In
formal learning situations, people with this style prefer to experiment with new ideas, simulations,
laboratory assignments, and practical applications. The Accommodating style’s dominant learning
abilities are Concrete Experience (CE) and Active Experimentation (AE). People with this learning
style have the ability to learn from primarily “hand-on” experience. They enjoy carrying out plans and
involving themselves in new and challenging experiences. Their tendency may be to act on “gut”
feelings rather than on logical analysis. In solving problems, individuals with an Accommodating
learning style rely more heavily on people for information than on their own technical analysis. This
learning style is important for effectiveness in action-oriented careers such as marketing or sales. In
formal learning situations, people with the Accommodating learning style prefer to work with others to
get assignments done, to set goals, to do field work, and to test out different approaches to completing a
Kolb et al (2001) state that integrated learning is conceptualized as an idealized learning cycle or spiral
where the learner "touches all the bases" - experiencing, reflecting, thinking, and acting - in a recursive
process that is responsive to the learning situation and what is being learned. Adaptive flexibility in
learning refers to the degree to which people change learning style to respond to different learning
situations in their life. Mainemelis et al (2002) continue that this development in learning sophistication
and creative adaptation results from the integration of the dual dialectics of conceptualizing/
experiencing and acting/ reflecting. Adaptive flexibility is related to the degree that one integrates the
dual dialectics of the learning process conceptualizing/ experiencing and acting/ reflecting. Both the
conceptualizing/ experiencing dialectic (naming one's own experience in dialogue with others) and the
transformative dialectic between reflection and action (reflection informed by action and action
informed by reflection) carry importance.
Lumpkin and Lichtenstein (2005) note three themes of organizational learning: behavioral learning,
cognitive learning, and action learning. Behavioral learning sees organizations as goal-oriented,
routine-based systems which respond to experience by repeating behaviours that have been successful
and avoiding those that are not. Trial-and-error learning leads to routines and processes that confer
selective advantage to the firm. Emphasis is on learning from repeated behaviours. Cognitive learning
focuses on the cognitive content of organizational learning and how changes in individual’s cognitive
maps are aggregated and translated into changes in an organization’s cognitive schema. The focus is on
the content of learning rather than on its behavioural outcomes, on processes that improve the creation
of knowledge in a firm, and the utilization of knowledge to improve creativity, quality of interaction,
and other types of performance. By putting the right processes in place, a learning organization can, in
essence, transform data into information, and information into knowledge, which can then be leveraged
to generate organizational knowledge. Organizational learning, in this sense, includes the process of
exploiting externally-generated knowledge or transforming internally-stored knowledge.
Lumpkin and Lichtenstein (2005) continue that action learning focuses on the moment-to-moment
practice of correcting misalignments between “espoused theory” (what individuals or organization say
they do) and its “theory-in-use” (what individuals or organizations actually do), to produce more
effective action in real time. Action learning is primarily concerned with the patterns of belief and
qualities of interaction between organizational members that facilitate (or constrain) the capabilities of
the firm. Such learning is simultaneously personal and organizational, as it is built through a
commitment to improve the integrity of individual action, as well as the alignment of activities within
the organization. When a group of individuals commit to an action-learning approach, a community of
learning practice can be generated that may significantly impact the quality of communication,
innovation, and team performance in a firm. According to this approach, learning happens in “real
time,” through a nearly simultaneous reframing of personal belief and action that can transform the
individual as well as the organization.
2.7 Composite thinking
Webster (2002) notes that creative thinking is a dynamic process of alternation between convergent and
divergent thinking, moving in stages over time, enabled by certain skills (both innate and learned), and
by certain conditions, all resulting in a final product.
George (2007) notes how unconscious thinking contributes to creativity. Imagine a developer is trying
to come up with an initial prototype for a new concept and line of dishwashers. While consciously
working on this task, the developer identifies a number of features of form and function and options for
the line that seem viable but not terribly exciting or unique. Not under a pressing deadline, the
developer decides to put the project aside for a while and complete other tasks with deadlines. While
putting together an unrelated PowerPoint presentation a few days later, an idea for the prototype that
combines elements of the previously identified options in a unique manner pops into his mind. In each
of these cases and countless examples from personal experience, conscious and unconscious thought
work together.
Duch (2007), López-González and Limb (2012) and Abraham et al (2012) all note the diverse number
of brain regions involved in creative thinking, the higher cognitive functions that take place in the
brain, and also the progression of active brain regions during creative thinking. López-González and
Limb (2012) state that, even with relatively few completed studies, researchers have concluded that
musical creativity clearly cannot be tied to just one brain area or process. They note that creative
behaviour is ultimately the result of a combination of the four psychological processes: deliberate
cognitive, deliberate emotional, spontaneous cognitive, spontaneous emotional.
Duch (2007) argues that words in the brain are an abstraction of acoustic speech input, changed into
phonological, categorical representation. Categorical auditory perception enables understanding of a
speaker-independent speech and is more reliable in a noisy environment. Phonemes, quantized building
blocks of phonological representations (typically about 30-50 in most languages) are linked together in
ordered strings by resonant states that represent word forms. In brains of people who can read and
write, strictly unimodal visual representation of words in the Visual Word Form Area (VWFA) in the
left occipitotemporal sulcus has been found. The adjacent lateral inferotemporal multimodal area
(LIMA) reacts to both auditory and visual stimulation and has cross-modal phonemic and lexical links.
It is quite likely that the homolog of the VWFA in the auditory stream is located in the left anterior
superior temporal sulcus; this area shows reduced activity in developmental dyslexics. In the Broca’s
area in the frontal lobe precise motor representations that generate speech are stored. All these
representations of word forms help to focus thinking processes. Activations of word forms are
correlated with activity of other brain circuits, pointing to some experiences, perceptions and actions
that define the meaning of words. Polysemic words probably have a single phonological representation
and differ only by semantic extension. Analysis of the N200 feature of auditory event-related potentials
shows that phonological processing precedes semantic activations by about 90ms. Similar phonological
word forms activate adjacent resonant micro-circuits. To recognize a word in a conscious way, activity
of its subnetwork must win a competition for an access to the working memory. Hearing a word
activates strings of phonemes, priming (increasing the activity) all candidate words and non-word
combinations. Context priming selects extended sub-network corresponding to a unique word meaning,
while competition and inhibition in the winner-takes-all processes leaves only the most active candidate
network. Semantic and phonological similarities between words should lead to similar patterns of brain
activations for these words.
von der Malsburg (1997) argues about the unity or coherence of introspective experience, by focusing
on how consciousness switches between mental states and modalities. From the causal criterion for the
state of consciousness, it is clear that a snapshot of a brain or of a mind, taken with a super-
cerebroscope, cannot tell at all whether that organism was in a conscious state: causal tests could not be
performed. The method for doing so is to create events that could not possibly have been predicted (in
their timing, for instance) and to test whether they have consistent consequences. Thus, consciousness
cannot be conceived as a static conguration, but only as a historic process in time. This then leads to
another Gedanken-experiment: Use the super-cerebroscope to record the brain process over a whole
interval of time and store the result on a magnetic tape: Would that tape (or a “slave brain” controlled in
detail by it) be conscious? To make the question more pointed, assume the recorded period contained
clear examples of events that evidently were unexpected by the brain, and the record showed that each
and every time all the different agents had reacted appropriately. The inclination would be to say that
the recorded brain process was a conscious one, but that nevertheless the tape itself wasn't conscious
because it certainly could not react to stimuli thrown at it: the replay of the tape would be a logical, not
a historical process.
von der Malsburg (1997) continues that sub-conscious states can be interpreted as those in which many
of the agents in the brain are not functional or are not coherent with each other. Sub-conscious activity
may go on in the mind while we are consciously engaged in another matter. We usually find out about
such activity in indirect ways, by discovering effects that cannot be attributed to mind processes that we
remember, or if we remember them, cannot be traced back to a reason or purpose or to an act of will.
The basis for classifying mind processes as sub-conscious is the judgement that one or several
important modalities have not contributed properly to the process. Apparently, the lack of functionality
of modalities, or their lack of coordination, doesn't correspond to sheer lack of neural activity. In fact,
electro-encephalograms and other signals recorded from the healthy brain suggest that the whole brain
is always active. The lack of mutual engagement of modalities or the total absence of some of them as
active agents in the mind is probably rather due to the lack of correspondence or coordination or
resonance, and therefore proper interaction, between sub-processes. A completely unconscious state of
mind, in this image, is one in which there is a very low level of coherence between sub-systems, to the
extent that one cannot talk of a functional state at all, the brain not capable of reacting to any event
von der Malsburg (1997) further argues that a thought can establish itself in the mind only if none of
the participating modalities throws in its veto. In a fully conscious state this is a very restrictive
condition. Since among the modalities there are some that tell us how similar situations have been
handled in the past, the conscious state has a tendency to restrict us to trodden paths. Disengaging
modalities from a process liberates it from constraints and gives it more freedom to be creative (but
also to err, of course). Working at a problem intensely and consciously (and bearing the frustration of
not being able to solve it right away), and then doing something else to engage the conscious mind in
other activities and to let the sub-conscious silently do its work: when returning to the problem, it may
be found that all of a sudden the pieces fall into place and the solution is seen in a flash. This account
easily jibes with the coherence denition of consciousness: While many of the usual modalities are out,
being engaged in everyday activities, some idle agents are on their own, engage in play among
themselves in ways that would never be permitted by some others, and before those come back they
have found and locked in patterns that are novel and crucial to the solution sought. When my finger
touches an object in front of me, my eye is able with great precision to predict the moment when my
sense of touch will record the actual contact. This agreement can only be reached reliably if the
participating modalities, vision, kinesthesia and touch, separately have a correct representation of the
actual situation. Similarly, translation of Chinese into English (taken as two modalities) is not possible
as a logical process without reference to a representation of the subject matter spoken about.
Representation and meaning (Mephisto's “Schein des Himmelslichts” in Goethe's Faust), so much
taken as the very essence of consciousness, would therefore be a functional must and not a superfluous
Sutton and Hargadon (1996) note that brainstorms help IDEO designers acquire, store, retrieve, adapt,
and combine knowledge of potential solutions to design products. McFadzean (1998a) argues that one
method of encouraging creativity is to bring together teams of people so that participants can spark off
new ideas from other group members as suggestions are made. Top quality ideas have also been shown
to occur when groups use a group support system that allows the participants to remain anonymous.
Creativity is enhanced when experience, ideas and diverse elements are mixed together and then
transformed using new combinations. This is known as association and is the basis of many creative
problem solving techniques.
Hender et al (2001) note that many organizations are recognizing the importance of teams for problem
solving, because the necessary information is often distributed among group members, and cooperative
problem solving by a group may lead to acceptance at the implementation stage. However, getting a
group of experts to work together efficiently and effectively can be difficult. Group Support Systems
(GSS) can mitigate some of these problems, by providing at least three functions: parallel
communications, anonymity, and group memory. Parallel communications can help a group during idea
generation by allowing individuals to communicate simultaneously, thereby reducing production
blocking, whereas anonymity helps reduce evaluation apprehension. Both of these result in more equal
participation. Group memory supports creativity by allowing participants to view ideas generated by
others and hence facilitates piggybacking of ideas.
Similarly, Garfield et al (2001) note that, in forming idea factories, most companies have focused on
finding creative people and giving them the resources they need, because there is a long history that
shows that some people are simply more creative than others. However, the exposure to ideas from
other team members and the use of creative problem-solving techniques may be at least as important in
creative idea generation. While idea generation can be an individual activity performed in isolation, in
most cases people do not generate ideas in isolation; often they work with others, as part of a formal or
informal group to generate ideas. The contributions of other individuals who are engaged in similar
idea-generation activities affect both the ideas produced and the subset of ideas actually contributed.
From a cognitive perspective, it is the external stimuli - the ideas from others - that trigger one’s own
cognitive activities.
3 Methodology
In order to further examine the creative process of innovators and entrepreneurs, semi-structured
interviews were conducted with 10 participants. Purposive sampling was used to select the participants.
The participants were mostly established entrepreneurs, all having extensive experience (all
participants far exceeded the study's minimum of at least 3 years), and owning at least 1 business. The
interviewees have been directly involved with innovation and entrepreneurship, with appropriate level
of experience. It was not considered necessary to constrain participant selection according to industry
type, and the participants cover a number of industries. The participants were asked 29 questions, and
the interviews on average lasted 1 hour. The interviews were recorded, transcribed and subsequently
4 Analysis
4.1 Attributes of creativity
Creativity implies an ability to reimagine the problem. It requires colourful thinking, and deeper
understanding or thinking. One needs to look beyond boundaries and the obvious. The objective is to
start something new, or something not done before: something new, an improved version of something,
or something done in a different way. It is about seeing things differently, as a way of transcending to
the next level. Therefore, to objective is to not compete on the same points, and to differentiate yourself
and your work.
Creativity is about perspective. It concerns the way you look at things, It is the ability to see
opportunity from a different perspective. Seeing what is not there, and looking at the problem from a
strategic, holistic, and detached perspective. It is about having the proper frame of mind. Seeing behind
the curtains, and seeing the complete picture. Instead of looking at something as it is, it is looked at in
terms of its potential what it could be. It involves free thinking, lateral thinking, pattern making and
dot connecting.
Creativity is based on insight. It is the ability to fundamentally understand the problem, system or
game, and the dynamics thereof, so that you are able to work in on it.
Creative thinking involves meta-thinking. It is not just putting the idea together, but also better
understanding of the depth of the problem, or the next level of what you are trying to solve. It involves
the ability to work at a high level in multiple, parallel fields.
Creativity incorporates focus. One can typically not fully understand complex problems. Thus, rather
focusing and finding aspects of the problem to solve. In turn, focusing on the right part of the problem
– the most relevant part.
Creativity can mean to break from the ordinary or conventional. It requires thinking outside of the box.
To think of uncommon things or ideas, to start with concepts that do not necessarily make sense, or to
pull the carpet out among things.
In turn, creativity is nourished. It is founded and has an environment and culture. Its environment can
be compared with a garden - one need to create a garden (environment/ culture) in which creativity can
flourish. Creativity inspires and changes culture, and in turn is affected by culture. Language as a
reflection on mindset or orientation, has a key role. For example, not mentioning or talking of mistakes,
but rather speaking of learning. Thinking and learning to think are encouraged, thinking is not
classified, and constraints are not placed on thinking. Freedom is given to try things to see if it works.
Creativity can become habitual or second nature - a daily habit; to not just wait until things demand
change, and so forth, but to look at things all the time from a creative perspective. The innovator is
always looking for new ideas, and is always looking for new channels. Creativity may be likened to
stepping into a creative realm.
Creativity may be linked to and may build on intelligence or cognitive development. Currently, there is
an assimilation of, or ease of access to, information. It means everybody else pretty much has access to
the same information or resources - the same status quo or base line. Thus, in order to solve a problem
one has to look well beyond what approach most people migth take to solve the same problem. This
implies looking beyond merely solving the problem, but also noting how else the solution can be
enriched, to make the solution far more attractive. It implies optimizing the solution.
Creativity is about constructive thought, synthesis and stimulation: looking for things in the normal,
from everyday life, and picking it out to build on. The innovator is constantly making connections and
matching patterns. For example, he will hear somebody mention a comment, and he will think of a
book. It is not just a single piece of information or inspiration that creates the creative thought, it is
combining a number of things into a whole more powerful than the sum of the parts.
Creativity is contextual. It requires a problem or context to commence from. Creativity is proactive. It
implies thinking, instead of merely reacting. Creativity is purposeful and practical. It introduces
change, and at the same time value. It requires being practical and getting the practical as well as
business side of creativity right. It incorporates market intelligence, and it equally understands the
dynamics of the market. True creativity merges the left and right brain.
Creativity requires sound judgement. It considers the views and opinions of others, but also
understands their perceptions. It knows how to process opinion, and when people's opinions are
actually irrelevant. It knows how to align with opinions and perspectives – when to go with, and when
to change the perspective. It knows when to follow the market, and when to rather craft or shift the
market. There generally lays greater creativity in crafting the market.
Creativity is not confined to rational or even linear - thinking only, it is a lot more about shattering
boundaries and thinking. It permits more openess in terms of ideas, and it does not judge ideas
beforehand or a priori, based on personal thinking and mindsets. Creativity my leverage intuition, and
may spot opportunities intuitively. Whilst in the middle of something, a quick opportunity that is right
for the time may be recognized.
Creativity is less about boundaries, and more about transcending boundaries. The innovator have to be
a bit of a dreamer, in order to look at something differently.
Creativity believes. It believes that something else can exist, and this allows divergent thinking. It is
thus able to overcome and transcend perspectives based on stereotypical thought.
Creativity has elements of anticipation, proactiveness and resourcefulness. It takes a proactive stance
and is resourceful in terms of solutions. It is able to look into the future and anticipate what is going to
be relatively more and less important, with regards to trends.
Creativity pays attention to detail, and is aware of the surrounding environment, and the innovator
recognizes what is around him. He realizes the need around him.
Creativity may be depicted as the opposite of psychological inertia. Psychological inertia refers to
opinion and brain patterns that we have established in our lives through upbringing, etc.
Creativity is equally about acting a bit insane: doing the same thing and expecting a different result,
and being persistant: keep on (at) failing, while continuing to believe that there is a way out – a solution
– and that it is merely a case of having to change the steps in between.
Creativity is expensive. A myth about creativity may be that it is like a spark of inspiration. Related to
this is the misconception of the artist and the musethat great ideas strikes suddenly and you are set.
Creativity is grounded. It involves a context and a lot of (different ways of) thinking.
Attitude may be what differentiates the innovator, in that attitude determines how much the innovator
learns from experience, and thus develops creatively. Instead of playing victim or blame shifting, he
may actually endeavour to learn from experiences, and in doing so develop his own experience and
intuition. Rich experiences make creativity and finding solutions easier. The true innovator also puts in
effort to reflect on his experiences and creative attempts, to again learn from it and develop through it.
4.2 Creativity traits
The amount of creativity a candidate possesses over must be experienced; it is not on the surface. Some
of the things that demonstrate and reveal how much creativity a candidate possess are: 1) how intuitive
they are, 2) how much foresight they have, 3) how proactive they are, 4) how much initiative they
show, 5) how open a person is to suggestion, 6) how willing a person is to explore.
How a person thinks and what he talks about are important. He is generally inquisitive and his interests,
stories, ideas, experiences (implementation of ideas) that he articulates, speak of itself. The degree of
abstract thinking and conceptual understanding he demonstrates. He should show high levels of interest
and curiousity - an absolute desire to know as much as possible. The candidate should prove himself to
be open minded - not thinking in terms of lines or boundaries or categories too much - not putting
things in boxes, or able to change or redefine the boundaries or categories.
The candidate should be able to deal with ambiguity: he must be able to uncomfortable with something
to only have a loose definition or conceptualization of something, and to perhaps have more
questions than answers regarding something - for a period of time, without knowing how long it may
take for a sense of stability or order to return.
His mental predisposition, and his behaviour may also be telling. The way the person dresses, walks,
carries himself, uses his hands, and converses, may all reveal his creativity. People that are stronger
right brain, or people that are mentally more balanced, tend to be more creative, and mental
predisposition quickly becomes apparent. A creative person generally likes to talk longer, frequently
changes his tone of voice, and carries a lot of excitement. Creative people also demonstrate greater
levels of self-determination.
It is very easy to pick up whether a person has original thought or a copy cat idea – it is soon apparent
whether a person thought through something. The view is also that education plays a role to some
Simple observation can reveal creativity via things like problem solving. For instance, “you can look at
a kid in a sandbox, or in a playschool, and you would be able to see the creative ones. You would be
able to see the ones that are solving the problems by innovation ideas, and the others just become a
victim to the problem.”
Simple tests - for example, what someone can do with a paper clip - and intuition built up through
experience, also help to assess a person's creative capabilities.
4.3 Creativity as skill
Some of the significant points that surfaced through the interviews are: 1) the ability to develop
creativity through practice, and 2) the role that upbrining plays.
To many, they felt that creativity came through their intuition they have an intuition for creativity
and it was within their natural abilities – they are naturals at creativity, and creativity is a natural state
of mind to them.
The general view is that anybody can be creative. Even if not every person is born with creativity
capabilities, it is still a skill that can be learned through proper education. The brain is seen as a key
contributor to or medium of creativity, and like any other part of the body, the more you excercise it,
the better or smarter it becomes. Much of creativity entails becoming a better thinker, and learning to
think creatively is seen as a skill that needs to be honed. It requires confidence to be creative, and
people should generally be helped past the first step. Creativity improves with practice, and requires
time and room to act on curiousity. When placed in the right environment, anyone can and will be
creative. The brain needs to be exercised to think creatively, and this must be done often and regularly.
In this regard, the view is that education and upbringing do not enough.
Children are all predominantly creative, they are further conditionalized and shaped by rolemodels, like
their parents, and their upbringing though, and incondusive environments equally have an effect.
Similarly, creativity can be developed and improved. Being exposed to creativity and creativity
examples/ practice can help in this regard. For example, watching TV (documentaries that reflect on
creativity, etc) may feed the sub-conscious and stimulate and encourage creativity this way.
Upbringing frequently surfaced during the interviews. A number of participants recalled their youth,
and being creative during/ since their youth already. They demonstrated the potential to be creative
since childhood, and have had a creative side. They played in creative ways, and were inventing things
- were innovative - during childhood. They were imagining and visualizing things. And they enjoyed
doing it. Also, they have received help and encouragement, noteably from key roleplayers like their
parents, and their creativity was allowed to develop. The urge to be creative is not really stronger now
than then. One participant had to improvise a lot as a child. His parents were not rich, and he had to
make what he wanted.
In many cases, the participants felt that their understanding of creativity, rather than creativity itself,
developed with time. They have learned to harnass, channel, focus, control and use it more efficiently,
and to be more diciplined about it. They build experience, allowing them to be more creative. At the
same time, if creativity is only defined as creative or free thinking, some see people many years
younger than them, and thus with less experience, just as creative as they.
One participant in particular demonstrated the willful effort to be creative. The creative side did not
perhaps come natural, but the person put in deliberate effort to develop it. The person sought balance
between the left and right brain, and actively got involved in creativity – becoming part of the process
of designing things and making things (in his case, through investing in companies).
Routine is seen as a significant impediment to creative thinking.
In support of the point that creativity is equally developed, innovators (participants) will typically
mention that they initially work with single models, viewing the problem from the perspective of a
number of single models. After having familiarized themselves with individual models, they
subsequently start to use multiple models, both in combination and simultaneously. They also start to
more frequently and fluently shift gears changing between the models and tools at their disposal.
They become more experienced and fluent in the overall creative process, such that they move through
the process faster, the more it becomes second nature, and they no longer consciously think about it.
4.4 Stimulants
The innovator generally knows when he is being (exceptionally) creative, and may sense something
happening in his brain. He may need to do different things to access or achieve that state. It can be
haphazard - when he is alone with a piece of paper, or when he is facilitating a discussion or workshop.
Some of the common stimulants of creativity are: 1) being inquisitive and seeking to truly understand
things, 2) collecting a lot of general knowledge, 3) getting and stepping out of the traps brought about
by personal successes, 4) mental stimulation like music (and narcotics), emotions (emotional
experiences), or real-life experiences (beauty (nature), the unconventional and abnormal, triggers,
interrupts, events, occurrences, experiences, situations), 5) visualization and dreaming, 6) desperation,
necessity and pressure, 6) being fascinated by a problem, being passionate about something, or being
vested in something, 7) simply enjoying the challenge, being creative, and doing creative work, 8) a
change in the environment, and 9) specific times or events.
Creativity is also sparked by problem solving. Being confronted with a problem often instigates the
desire to find a solution. This is also in line with human nature. When faced with a problem, some may
attempt to bypass or ignore it, whilst others will attempt to propose a solution. Even if it is not the best
idea, they will come up with an innovative idea to address the problem. Thus, to be open to the
problems people are experiencing can stimulate creative thought.
Some are of the opinion that desperation, neccesity and pressure, including fear and stress - when
things are tough and when your back is up against the wall may equally instigate creative thinking,
whilst other confess the opposite – they require peace and quiet, with no stress. The person may require
space, time and quietness the ability to think and concentrate without interruption to be creative.
When under pressure, the person may switch from panic mode to a recovery and salvage – pioneering -
mode. He may simply identify and accept the challenge he is confronted with, and see it as such.
At the same time, creativity is also seen as strategic or planned. Creativity or creative thinking can be
(made) systematic, with routine to it, and tools to aid creative thinking. Creativity can become second
nature and routine.
The effect a change in the environment can have on creativity and creative thinking was mentioned a
number of times. Related to this is the national culture. The right environment will allow the brain to be
most creative, for example, people may experience monkey brain” (only thinking in terms of 3
actions: feeze, flight, fight) when under pressure. The right environment implies that it is in order to be
stupid and ask stupid questions, to completely step outside of the norm. At times, a change in the
environment or perspective may be deliberate, to stimulate creativity. For example, being confronted
with or exposed to something that is totally contrary to the current situation, and deliberately putting
oneself in a different context or realm, to see the world differently. When creativity is practiced in a
team, attention should be paid to putting together the team and improving its dynamics.
Interaction with people, and being among certain people and the right people can also stimulate and
boost creativity. For example, being around people with like minds and passions, or to be in a group
that goes overboard to a degree – that demonstrates freedom and spontaneity. Or, interaction with other
people that helps one to build on knowledge and to exchange ideas. Exchanging ideas with potential
customers can give further direction to creative thinking.
The mind itself may be an important contributor to creativity. Examples would be the ability to explore
ideas within certain confines, having a curious mind, or having a mind that is open to and able to
consider a number of things or points at the same time, and to then be able to integrate it. The right
mindsets can also enable creativity. An example would be to train yourself and making a commitment
to see the world differently. It is also important to clearing the brain. The brain gets full or occupied,
and it is beneficial to clear and reboot it when moving from one task to the other. In addition, the mind
may also be warmed up to start thinking creatively through thought exercises.
Dreams or visions of the future or what may be, may put creative thinking into motion. The actual
benefits of being an entrepreneur can serve as motivation as well enjoying greater autonomy and
freedom. Some express that thay are particularly more creative during particular days or particular
times during the day.
Creativity is also seen as an way to escape the norm. It is seen as a necessity, if one desires more, and a
different life or outcome than the norm. Creativity may be the result of not wanting to settle in routine,
and personal aspirations, self-actualization, and the need for greater stimulation may lead to creativity.
Creativity may simply be the consequence of being employed in a profession and area that generally
require and allow creativity. This would also dictate the way the person thinks the person may be
taught to think creatively.
A number of participants expressed having an artistic side – being involved in arts, or (writing) music.
4.5 Process
4.5.1 Formal process
The overall view is that there is no formal, straight-forward or cut and dry process to creativity. At the
same time, there may be a standard procedure or routine to creativity. The innovator as creative person
has a general routine, procedure or outline he normally follows during the creative process, that is
rather standard. There are a number of distinct modules or processes that his thinking progresses
through or along. He will generally contextualize the problem to be solved, form a rough idea how to
solve the problem, and then work to refine the solution. He may reference and search for models,
frameworks and tools to build perspective around the problem and its solution. The experience he has
built up over time may prove invaluable, and he may draw extensively from it. Also, he may commit to
a quick feasibility study, looking at things like cost and the market, and may speak to people close to
him or in his network to form and expand a quick opinion of the problem and solution. At that point, he
will start to focus on the details of the problem or solution. Certain information can not be gathered
from background research, people or his network. In these cases it helps to get closer to the problem,
and to experience the problem first hand. During the process, there are a number of things he will
consider and incorporate, and he may utilize a number of models and tools to this effect. For example,
he will look at ways to differentiate away from the competitor, turn the industry forces into gains, and
differentiate the value proposition in terms of the customer. He will conduct significant research to
validate and test his conceptualization, premises and assumptions regarding the proposed solution.
Creativity is partially structured and partially unstructured. No two problems or solutions are ever the
same and creativity also requires flexibility. Many times, the solution may not be obvious. The
innovator may not get that far and may get bogged down when trying to define and articulate the
problem, and may only move forward when allowing some room for ideas to linger and gestate. That
is, for creativity to happen and for original thought to occur: creativity involves a lot of original thought
that does not progress in a linear or structural manner. Again, the confines, moulds or processes of
creativity may be well-defined, but its flow is not necessarily well-defined.
There is a part of creativity or the creative process that is more work than thinking, and hard work that
is. The example is given of an artist that has to paint for hours and hours. A lot of this pertains to
implementing the creative idea or thought.
4.5.2 Evolution of the solution
What the innovator thinks is the answer, and what turns out to be the answer, may be far apart. His
perceptions of the problem, and the realities of the problem may differ. He may very well discover what
he thought the problem was, is not really the problem. Many times, how he sees a problem is not really
what the problem is, and there may be layers to the problem. The problem may be more complex than
meets the eye. The real problem is either something deeper or closer to the surface, or a completely
different problem. Initial perceptions are likely to change or evolve, as the innovator slowly learns the
true dynamics of the problem, and as he further experiences the problem. It is only possible to pick up
certain properties and intracacies when the innovator is in the system, and immersed in the problem,
and the real issues of the problem may only surface whilst working on the problem. More knowledge of
the problem may better reveal the most important issues, and may change the direction or solution
It is not possible to grasp all the dynamics beforehand. Like strategy, products evolve. Doors open and
close – opportunities, options and possibilities come and go. It is not possible to anticipate everything,
and to anticipate everything correctly. Assumptions are made, surprises – things not thought of – arise,
and there are unintended consequences. It is not always easy or possible to fully grasp the consumers'
perceptions of a product, or its potential. Over time, as things transpire, the eventual solution may be
significantly different from the initial solution. In many cases, the original solution is merely a spring
board that get the innovator in the arena. Engagement with the problem and its solution often gives new
direction and may open up more or new opportunities. Arriving at the eventual solution is an iterative
process - a lot of learning, original thought and decision-making take place.
The innovator learns a lot as he moves along. He comes across easier, cheaper and better ways to solve
the problem, and practicalities and constraints become evident. Still, it is advised to get market
feedback as soon as possible. The innovator needs to get the balance right between reasoning or
analyzing too much and too little. He should work with and from feedback on a minimum viable
product, rather than making too many design changes or improvements before taking it to the market
first. He should maintain balance and must not over-perform on the solution: he should know when a
solution is good enough, and not try to add all the bells and whistles initially, because it might be nice,
but redundant. Subsequently, he can further work on optimizing the solution. The innovator critiques
and questions the solution to move it forward and to determine whether it can be improved still. The
end goal is a solution with fair price and (for) quality also in terms of what the customer sees as
adequate quality.
4.6 Method and technique
In many cases, the innovator would perceive the problem and quickly comprehend a general solution.
He will then work on the details of realizing it. The innovator works a lot from improvisation and
assumptions. In some cases, it is important to keep some momentum, and when necessary, the
innovator will keep jumping between different prespectives. A lot of learning takes place while the
innovator works on solutions. Learning forms a cricial part of arriving at solutions. The right conditions
and environment must exist for learning to take place. Learning builds on previous learning and
expands this way. Learning allows further and additional learning.
Of course, a strong link exists between creativity and problem solving – creativity and problem solving
have a lot in common, and problem solving significantly helps to explain creativity. It is seen as
important to make a decision to start to take action and to start somewhere. Whether the start is
wrong is not really important. This simply reflects on the fact that creativity involves a lot of learning
and original thought. Indeed, a lot of learning occurs during creativity. The innovator is essentially
learning a technology, etc., or upskilling himself in terms of a technology, etc. Proper leadership is also
crucial: It is important to know when to lead and when to follow – when to turn to others to guide you.
An overall objective is to get both the technical aspect and people, social or business aspect of
innovation right. The innovator must be mindful of competitors and existing solutions or subtitutes,
must know the specific market segment he is targeting, and must ensure that his solution is not over- or
4.6.1 Information collection and research
As subsequently discussed, a key constituent of creativity is perspective formation. To this end, the
innovator collects information in a number of ways. Popular and common sources of knowledge are: 1)
reading; 2) conducting research: this may ential background research or more extensive research, and
particularly done via the internet; 3) people: friends, peers, experts, networks; 4) customers.
The objective may simply be to fill in a blank, or, something more substantial, like sourcing an idea
that can instigate a solution. When starting work on a problem, the unknowns and assumptions are
typically defined early on, to make work of resolving these.
Talking to a lot of people and getting the views and opinions of a lot of other people are seen as
important, as the innovator is limited in background and thus what he knows. Talking to others helps to
expand his perspective.
Some build a resource or support system around them, comprising of information and people. This too
can accelerate the efforts of the innovator. The innovator may equally draw from knowledge and
experience he has built up over time. In this sense, (having built) a general or broad knowledge base is
seen as beneficial. It may be through seemingly an