Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mel Rhodes: The Man Behind the Four P's of Creativity

Written by Jon Michael Fox

The Value of Classifying Things

Classifying the fundamental elements in any discipline is the precursor to growth for that discipline. “In the history of the sciences, every branch floundered until facts were organized and classified. After a classification system was devised, the branch advanced rapidly” (Rhodes, 1961, p 309). Classifications allow us to sort the same from the other.

Person, Process, Product and Press

The 4Ps represent the nature of creative Persons, the Processes they use, the Products or outcome of their efforts, and the Press, or environment that supports or hinders creativity. For those interested in where words come from, Press comes from the Latin word pressus, meaning a box or container to put things in – the environment being the place where the other 3Ps live. Perhaps more up-to-date is the notion of Press being the elements that press in on us, helping or hindering our creative expression.


Over the years I have been saying to my undergraduate students, “Mel Rhodes gave us a classification scheme for understanding creativity. Then he died. Creativity will kill you.” Tongue-in-cheek as that may be, I decided to find out what I could about the man who was so important to those of us studying the field of creativity. He deserves more than my odd-ball humor.

Here is what I have found about James Melvin Rhodes. (As a parenthetical note, if anyone knows additional information, or can correct erroneous data, please let me know. I would like to eventually get his story on Wikipedia.)

Mel Rhodes was born on June 14, 1916 to Waldo and Rhoda Rhodes. As far as I can determine, he grew up in central Pennsylvania.

He received his baccalaureate degree in 1938 from Juniata College, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. (Juniata College is in the central part of Pennsylvania – about 20 miles southwest of State College, PA). He served in the military from 1941 until 1946. After World War II, Rhodes went on to Penn State where he earned his masters degree in education in August 1950 (State College, Pennsylvania). His major was in psychology. He went on to Arizona State University and was awarded a PhD in Education at ASU in Tempe. (Tempe is part of the greater Phoenix area.) His dissertation was signed on May 16, 1956.

Rhodes accepted a position as an assistant professor of education at the College of Education, University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona in 1957 at the completion of his doctorate. He was on faculty there from 1957 to 1971.

Rhodes died in Highlands, Florida (Sebring area) on April 29, 1976 at the age of 60.

Alpha Zeta Connection

As an additional piece of information, Rhodes was a member of Alpha Zeta. -- Alpha Zeta is a professional agricultural fraternity. The only reason it is meaningful to me is that I too am a member of Alpha Zeta – although I have not been involved with the organization since 1967 when I was in college training to be a landscape architect. I don't know what his connection was; I never met the man.


In the mid-1950’s Mel Rhodes was working on his doctoral dissertation -- The Dynamics of Creativity: An Interpretation of the Literature on Creativity with a Proposed Procedure for Objective Research, at Arizona State University. Rhodes wrote, “The primary purpose of this dissertation is to propose a new procedure for use in studying children who show high potential ability for creativity” (p.1). During the development of his dissertation, Rhodes collected 56 definitions for the words creativity and imagination.

His interest, among others, was to find a core definition of creativity. His research included looking at the creativity literature of the time to see what might be learned – data mining the old fashioned way. In fact he did not find a universal definition of creativity, but rather a way of thinking about it. He identified four strands of creativity. To this day we use his schema - the 4P's - as an appropriate and robust way to examine the myriad issues around this highest form of thinking. In 1961 Rhodes wrote his seminal article An Analysis of Creativity and published it in Phi Beta Kappen. A thorough explanation of his 4Ps can be found there.

In his article, Rhodes wrote, “About five years ago I set out to find a definition of the word creativity. I was interested in imagination, originality, and ingenuity. In time I had collected forty definitions of creativity and sixteen of imagination” (p. 306).

“But as I inspected my collection I observed that the definitions are not mutually exclusive. They overlap and intertwine. When analyzed, as through a prism, the content of the definitions form four strands. Each strand has unique identity academically, but only in unity do the four strands operate functionally” (p. 307).

Rhodes went on to define Person, Process, Press and Product:

“The term person, as used here, covers information about personality, intellect, temperament, physique, traits, habits, attitudes, self-concept, value systems, defense mechanisms, and behavior” (p. 307).

The term process applies to motivation, perception, learning, thinking, and communication” (p. 308).

The term press refers to the relationship between human beings and their environment” (p. 308).

“The word idea refers to a thought which has been communicated to other people in the form of words, paint, clay, metal, stone, fabric, or other material. When an idea becomes embodied into tangible form it is called a product.

Current Value of the 4Ps

Rhodes gave us a viable way to look at creativity. Because creativity is absolutely transdisciplinary – meaning it spans all disciplines – a schematic approach is most useful in understanding the nature and nurture of creativity from both a research and application point of view. It is easy to separate creativity into Person, Process, Product and Press in the attempt to understand the parts, but one must recognize that the 4P's work together -- when taking an applied approach to creativity one must consider the "ecology" of creativity.

Although classification systems can be limiting, they can be freeing at the same time. We have to start somewhere. Rhodes and his 4Ps has helped us move from the myths of creativity to a productive understanding of creativity – and how to apply it. Thank you, Mel Rhodes, for your gift.


Rhodes, M. (1961). An analysis of creativity, Phi Beta Kappen, 42, 305-310.

Rhodes, M. (1956). The dynamics of creativity: An interpretation of the literature on creativity with a proposed procedure for objective research. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Arizona State University, Tempe.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dr. Jo Yudess: Grounded Theory on Teaching Creativity and Leadership

I have been asked to share pieces of my dissertation, “The Synergies, Efficacies and Strategies Involved in Teaching Creativity and Leadership Together: A Grounded Theory” since the research was done with eight faculty members and represents their thoughts on specific topics. Several main concepts related to creativity and leadership emerged which were woven into my final theory. Each of them is expressed as a gerund to facilitate making relationships between them (Charmaz, 2009). They were:

• Creating: This includes comments about the general field of creativity.
• Leading: The category references leadership as it is practiced, understood, studied, or observed by the participants.
• Creative Problem Solving: These are direct responses referring to the Creative Problem Solving process which is the basis for all the courses in this program.
• Thinking skills: Most recently a new problem solving model, Creative Problem Solving: The Thinking Skills Model (TSM) (Puccio, Murdock & Mance, 2007) was adopted and is being integrated into the program. While it is similar to the Creative Problem Solving process described above, there are differences significant enough to warrant a category.
• Instructing in Creative Studies: The backgrounds, experiences, visions and interests of the faculty are in this category.
• Structuring Classes: Included are codes from the curriculum and instructors comments on various courses.
• Contributing to students: The value of the program in the learning it offers to students is the gist of this category.
• Connecting Leadership and Creativity: This offers the views of the instructors on how creativity and leadership are connected along with information from the curriculum to illustrate where and when the connections occur.
• Comparing Creative Studies to other programs: The instructors identify the differences between this program and other potential leadership training programs they may know about, particularly MBA programs.
• Evaluating Creative Studies: This involves the instructors’ views of the program, how far they’ve seen it come, how they work together, how well the program works and what else might be done to improve the degree.
• Creating Environment: Comments made by the instructors emphasized various elements of the environment necessary for creativity to take place.

Over the next few weeks I will be detailing each of these concepts in this blog, and then finally, sharing the theory that I developed. Stay tuned! Jo Yudess, Ed. D.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dr. Gerard Puccio Webinar

Dr. Gerard Puccio recently presented a webinar with Jonathan Vehar, cofounder of New & Improved, on the latest version of the Creative Problem Solving process. To download this webinar for free, click on this link.

Their discussion included :

  1. Creative leadership in the 21st century
  2. The latest version of Creative Process/Creative Problem Solving, which Puccio and his colleagues call the Thinking Skills Model
  3. Improvements in the new model and why we need a new model
  4. What skills are necessary to be an proficient creative change leader
  5. How can you acquire these skills

Thursday, January 6, 2011

In Honor of our dear friend and colleague: Dr. Mary Murdock

Today, January 7th, 2011, is the first anniversary of the passing of our dear friend, Dr. Mary Murdock.

Mary was known for her creative spirit, southern accent, passion for life, and love of learning. Although she started her professional life as a school teacher, academia proved to be her natural home. She excelled in writing, researching, and presenting, but as any of her students will tell you, her real forte was teaching. In fact, many former students have said that she was the best teacher they ever had.

Mary’s teaching was not limited to just the classroom. Every interaction with her provided an opportunity to learn. Sometimes the lessons were obvious, and at other times it took days or weeks for the key points to sink in. In many ways, Mary is still teaching us right now.

In honor of this extraordinary teacher, we would like you to share something that you learned from Mary. To start the process, this is what the faculty and staff of ICSC learned from Mary:

“I learned from Mary that life can be a fascinating process. Even the most difficult experiences bring some aspect of joy when you are curious about the process”- Dr. Sue Keller Mathers

“Having worked on many projects and products with my dear friend Mary, one of the most profound things I learned from her is that the creative process is rarely a straight line. I also learned that one should never stop living life to its fullest” –Dr. Gerard Puccio

“Mary's favorite quote from Torrance always reminds me of her, 'Don't be afraid to fall in love with something and pursue it with intensity'. And, my Mary favorite word – ‘Dawg’” Dr. Roger Firestien

“In Mary I saw the picture of grace under fire”- Dr. Jo Yudess

“Don’t let others steal your joy”- Debi Johnson

“There is nothing wrong with being emotional. Emotions make you feel alive!”- Dr. Cyndi Burnett

“I learned a lot about grace. When I witnessed Mary learn for the first time that she had a year to live, I witnessed her resign with a good grace all that should could not be but instead, and I quote Shakespeare here, ‘...translate the stubbornness of fortune into so quiet and so sweet a style’”. –Dr. John Cabra

In the comment box below, please share with us what you learned from Dr. Mary Murdock.

For more information on the Mary Murdock Creative Spirit Scholarship Award, please visit our website.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Welcome to the 21st Century: The Perfect Storm for Creativity

Welcome to the 21st Century: The Perfect Storm for Creativity
by Gerard Puccio, Ph.D.
Chair & Professor
International Center for Studies in Creativity
Buffalo State

Written December 1, 2010

I have been in the field of creativity studies for more than a quarter of a century and have never seen a better time to be in the business of helping others develop their creativity, Creative Problem Solving, and creative leadership skills. Yet with opportunity comes risk. There has never been a more important time for creativity because we are in a state of perpetual change that has brought on crisis for many, and opportunity for those with creative foresight, skill and attitude. Creativity is in demand, because life in the 21st century demands it.

It is all too easy to say that change is ubiquitous in the 21st century. I have read countless books and journal articles that begin by stating that we live in times of rampant change, but what does this really mean? I’ll give you a few specific examples that helped me to truly grasp the concept of exponential change.
Product life cycles have become shorter and shorter. There was a day, many decades ago, when you could work literally on the same product for an entire career. Today manufactured products undergo fundamental redesign every 5 to 10 years, and the life cycle in the area of technology is much shorter with products being subjected to redesign every 6 to 12 months. That new computer, television or digital book reader you just bought is already old.
The days of permanent jobs has given way to the need to adapt quickly to changing job conditions and employment opportunities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that today’s school age children will, on average, change jobs more than 11 times between the age of 18 and 42. To this I would add that it is becoming increasingly more difficult to anticipate precisely what entirely new jobs will be found 10 to 20 years in the future.

Each successive generation experiences a larger number of life-altering changes. Imagine if you were born 2,000 years ago. It would have been possible for you to live your life in a way that would have required no, to little, adjustment based on changes in society. That is certainly not true of the modern day generation. Just look around you to see how the adaption and advancement of computer technology, the ubiquitous availability of information through the internet, the rise of social networking, advances in medicine and medical practices, the use of nanotechnology, the wide use of in-home and hand held video game devices, the availability of digital music and books, and advances in modern telecommunications have fundamentally redefined the very nature of our lives.

So what exactly is the ‘perfect storm’ for creativity? Let me explain. In the face of the exponential increase in change described above, many educational experts have argued that our educational system must do more to promote creativity as a skill in young people. My bookshelf and digital folder are beginning to fill up with books, documents and reports that all make the same point. For individuals to be successful professionally, indeed for a society to prosper, in the 21st century, greater attention must be given to developing higher-order thinking skills. And chief among these skills is creativity. For example, the book 21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times refers to a skill-set called “Learning and Innovation Skills” which includes: critical thinking and problem solving, communications and collaboration, and creativity and innovation. According the authors of the book Touch Choices or Tough Times “What it will take to hold on to our standard of living – high skills combined with creativity and a hunger for education.” These same authors suggest that “the best employers the world over will be looking for the most competent, most creative, and most innovative people on the face of the earth and will be willing to pay them top dollar for their services.” In the book The Global Achievement Gap the author lists as his seventh survival skill “Curiosity and Imagination.” As this author argued:

It’s not enough to just be trained in the techniques of how to ask questions – as lawyers and MBAs often are, for example. Employees must also know how to use analytical skills in such ways that are often more “out-of-the-box” than in the past, come up with creative solutions to problems, and be able to design products and services that stand out from the competition.
To the above examples I add one more. A recent global study undertaken by IBM concluded that creativity is now considered to be the number one leadership skill for the next five years. As this report indicates, “CEOs now realize that creativity trumps other leadership characteristics. Creative leaders are comfortable with ambiguity and experimentation. To connect with and inspire a new generation, they lead and interact in entirely new ways.” In our own book, Creative Leadership: Skills that Drive Change, we have argued that in times of chaos and change, creative problem solving must be considered a core leadership.
I could share many more examples of books and reports that come to the exact same conclusion – creative thinking is an indispensable 21st century professional skill. And we at the International Center for Studies in Creativity would go further and note that creativity and creative thinking are not only important professionally but have become essential life skills.

A perfect storm is a situation in which a rare combination of factors brings about a drastic or dire situation. What makes the present situation with respect to creativity so dire? For starters, the fact that the structure and assessment procedures used in schools do not promote creative thinking, and, one might argue, actively discourages it. While organizations’ survival in the 21st century economy requires imagination and divergent thinking, our educational system seems to be mainly focused on memorization, routine, and single-right answer thinking. As the authors of Tough Choices or Tough Times suggested:
Our schools, on the whole, are hostile to ideas. Too often, our tests ask students to come up with the one right answer, and the curriculum, pegged to the tests, penalizes the creative student rather than rewarding him or her for the unexpected but thoughtful – or even brilliant – response.

If our educational system is not producing creative thinkers surely modern-day organizations, those that most desire this skill, have the wherewithal to promote this important ability among its employees. Not so. And so we have another circumstance that helps to form the perfect storm. A recent report on workforce readiness found from their study that, like the other books and reports referred to above, creativity and innovation were considered to be among the most crucial workplace skills. However, when asked whether they were prepared to deliver training programs to new entrants to develop these important skills, over two-thirds of the respondents indicated that their organizations had no such programs in place.
And here we have the conditions for a perfect storm. Success in the 21st century depends on creative-thinking skills, yet both our educational systems and our organizations are not well equipped to promote this skill among students and employees, respectively.

So, what might be done to successfully navigate through this storm? Here is a range of ideas that might just help:

1. In general. The United States is fortunate to have some of the world’s leading creativity thinkers, scholars and programs. The field of creativity studies has accumulated a large body of knowledge in regard to programs, strategies and practices that have been proven effective at raising creative talent. More needs to be done to disseminate and implement the insights garnered through these various creativity sources.

2. In society. Our government, both federal and state, would be wise to highlight the importance of creativity, form a vision that articulates a future in which America recaptures its innovative spirit, and puts into place policies, practices and laws that actively promote creativity and innovation. To further a national creativity and innovation agenda, establish a National Office for Creativity and Innovation.

3. In schools. Include creativity courses and curricula in both teacher preparation and educational leadership programs. Implement projects and other forms of assessment that measure student creativity. Moreover, reward schools that develop 21st century skills in their students.

4. In Higher Education. Create minors in creativity, such as our own here at the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State, so that all undergraduate students might complement their major area of study and make themselves more marketable by developing creative-thinking skills. Adopt a ‘creativity across the curriculum’ program by embedding creativity and creative-problem solving based projects in courses from a variety of disciplines.

5. In families. Provide parenting courses that instruct adults on the most effective methods for promoting creative thinking in the household.
Of course the above ideas will take dedicated resources and time, but I would strongly urge that efforts to promote creativity and innovation must not be viewed as expenditures, but as an investment – an important investment in our collective future.

Casner-Lotto, J., RosenblumE., & Wright, M. (2009). The ill-prepared U.S. workforce: Exploring the challenges of employer-provided workforce readiness training. New York: The Conference Board.
IBM (2010). Capitalising on complexity: Insights from the global chief executive officer (CEO) study. Portsmouth: UK: IBM United Kingdom Limited.
National Center on Education and the Economy (2008). Tough choices or tough times: The report on the new commission on the skills of the American workforce. San Francisco: Wiley.
Puccio, G. J., Mance, M., & Murdock, M. C. (2011). Creative leadership: Skills that drive change. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications.
Trilling, B., Fadel, C. (2009). 21st Century skills: Learning for life in our times. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Wagner, T. (2008). The global achievement gap: Why even the best schools don’t teach the new survival skills our children need – and what we can do about it. New York: New York. Basic Books.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Opportunities of Technology Driven Creative Collaborations

Written By: Dr. John Cabra

A few months ago my seven year old daughter learned of a trip I had scheduled to New York City. On the date of my departure she handed me two sheets of paper. On one sheet was a picture of an American Girl Doll eye wear product. It listed the price, varying styles, and a description of the product. The other sheet contained a map of Manhattan with tags of all the American Girl Doll stores located throughout Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs. She wanted me to bring her back this particular souvenir. Surprised, I asked her if mom had helped her find this information. My daughter Anna said no. I then asked her if her brother had helped. With a puzzled look, somewhat with a hint of annoyance--more like sassy to be quite honest--she also said no to my second question. “Wow! That’s my girl,” I proudly danced in my head in reaction to my seven year old daughter’s ability to navigate the web. Yet immediately following my glee, I could not help but feel sobered by what she was able to do at such a young age. I pondered, “If she could do this at age seven, what will she be able to do when she reaches college age?”

Technology is growing at such an exponential rate that it’s dizzying just thinking about it. We all know this to be true. I am sobered because as an academic, I have 20 more years of teaching left in my professional life. I reasoned that if I do not change how I teach now, I will be pathetically and miserably disconnected from my students. I saw myself as a dinosaur, more like Barney the dinosaur lecturing to an audience that get their lectures from a podcast created by a more technologically disposed younger academic; this audience I foreshadowed would come to “class” expecting to be coached, advised, facilitated, not lectured with content-saturated PowerPoint slides embedded with cheesy clipart.

To be honest, I feel vulnerable. I am anxious at the thought of trouble shooting an uncooperative software program. I fear learning curves that are too steep to master. By any measure, I am not a technologically savvy academic. Yet many peers and students think I am. To be fair, I admit that I am technologically aware. I keep abreast of as much technology news as possible. And because I must, I plan on immersing myself in more technological ambiguity despite the pain it produces. That said, my post elaborates on the underlying trends that give rise to these opportunities of technologically driven creative collaboration and to the extent they will govern how creativity and innovation will emerge and manifest in areas of organizational life such as business, education, science and design in the next 20 years.

Because I am limited with what I can cover in one post, I included a prezi presentation I gave last month to the Consortium of Colleges and Universities Media Center’s annual conference. Please see the link to my presentation at the end of this post. This blog also contains excerpts taken directly from an article I co-authored with a colleague (Uribe & Cabra, in press).

Take a minute to think about a typical day in your life. You are unlikely to find a day when you had no interaction with some sort of digital technology. On this day, you may have worked on your laptop computer, purchased something online, taken a picture with your digital camera and then uploaded it to a social media site. You certainly called somebody using your smartphone, listened to music on your mp3 player, interacted with a digital vending kiosk, or played a videogame. In all likelihood you did all of these things and more on that same day using only the smartphone you carry. Although these technologies are in their infant stages with no more than a few decades of existence, their influence and pervasiveness in modern day life have been remarkable. As of 2008, the average U.S. American between the ages 18 to 55 have consumed between 500 to 570 minutes of digital information per day through means such as TV, mobile phones and computer technologies. This is the equivalent of 8 ½ hours of our daily lives (Council for Research Excellence, 2008). It is yet to be seen and difficult to imagine the extent to which we will continue to integrate these technologies in a seamless and frictionless way. The thought of what lies ahead is evocatively exciting and frightening as we ponder the integration of technologies such as intra-body nanotechnology, sub-dermal radio frequency identification tags -- just to name a few -- with our psychological, sociological and even physiological being. Here are three trends we see unfolding at a rapid pace.

Trend 1: The 3 W’s: Whatever -- Wherever -- Whenever
Moore’s Law, which predicts an exponential increase in a microprocessor’s power, while simultaneously decreasing its size, has made it possible for us to live in a ubiquitous and omnipresent reality, a now-reality (Tapscott, 2009). In the now-reality the constructs of need and satisfaction collapse in the blink of an eye. Whether it is through smartphones, netbooks or any other networked device, we carry the world in our pockets and therefore can access this world of information wherever we are and whenever we want. From a sociological perspective we now expect and demand that information, communication and transactions are instantaneous. As these forms of technology continue to improve, they will become more ubiquitous. As organizations become more internationalized, organizational members will be expected to interface with overseas partners. As such, we anticipate organizations will engage in live and remote creative collaborations whenever, wherever and on whatever.

Face-to-face collaborations often involve the use of flipchart paper and post-it notes, which are cumbersome and sluggish. We predict these platforms will fade. There are platforms now that can mind-map and visually tag data into more meaningful themes in a matter of minutes (Puccio & Cabra, 2009). Now let’s take this further. Imagine that these software programs can be executed to create endless iterations of digitized prototypes, models, or simulations. It now exists. A software program called the Data Visualizer, in concert with another program called Catai, can perform thousands of iterative checks in seconds to examine the interface possibilities among component widgets. The implication here suggests that reliance on non-digital technology (analog technology) so often used in creativity meetings, such as flipcharts, whiteboards, and post-its will no longer be practical.

Trend 2: The Hyper-Reality
The vision of a seamless digital landscape has been the inspiration and fascination of many movie directors, who have anticipated some of the most incredible immersive technologies decades in advance of their commercialization in real life. For example, in George Lucas’ 1977
Star Wars movie, R2-D2 relays a 3D holographic message from Princess Leia to young Luke Skywalker; that scene planted the seeds for Cisco’s telepresence technology into the collective
unconscious and into the R&D labs of major players in the computer and communication technology business. Today telepresence, when coupled with Musion’s holographic technology, is now available as a commercial product to organizations worldwide providing an enhanced and immersive remote collaboration experience. Telepresence, Virtual Worlds, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Tangible Digital Media (technologies that we have seen in many of Hollywood blockbusters) are all byproducts of the seamless and frictionless integration of what
we hold to be part of the natural world and that of the digital world. This gives rise to a Hyper-

Hyper-reality blends layers of digital information into our field of perception to heighten our experience of life. There are two kinds of technology that come to mind. One technology invites us to get immersed into digital realms such as Virtual Worlds. This technology recreates vivid and immersive realities for us to explore and are detached from our physical reality. Another technology brings the digital world into our physical reality such as Augmented Reality or Tangible Media devices. This new socio-technical landscape, which is made out of a rich blend between matter and bytes, offers significant opportunities to harness creativity and innovation.

Opportunities within Virtual Worlds
Virtual Worlds offer one of the most immersive platforms among remote synchronous collaboration technologies. Individuals feel like they are in close proximity to each other. In terms of specific activities and subprocesses within the creative process, we see two core areas where the use of virtual world venues and the manipulation of digital data will increase creative effectiveness. First, virtual platforms allow us to enhance ideation initiatives. Our ideas now can be expressed digitally and in 3D, which add a new layer to the traditional mechanisms of ideation comprising the use of scribbled post it’s and quick sketches. 3D models convey a more vivid picture of an idea than a 2D image. As such, it easier for team members to fully grasp a concept and then build on it thus further driving ideation. In addition, ideas can be expressed in a myriad of digital formats like video footage, pictures, and sounds for richer creative expression.

Opportunities within Augmented Reality
While virtual reality requires donned equipment that facilitates the creation of a simulation not
of the real world per se or in real time, Augmented Reality does not. Augmented reality (AR) is
a technology that permits live, direct or indirect examination of a tangible setting comprising the
real-world. Reality can be augmented with audio, and someday, with a sense of touch. For example, imagine a football trading card, which is a physical element. Then, the football player
emerges as a 3D object. It is also interactive as you can study the performance statistic of this
football player, page to the next informational bit, and so on. AR, in short, merges 3D objects into video (real and virtual) in real time.

Opportunities within Tangible Media
Tangible Media is a technology that makes information tangible. For example, blocks that look
like LEGOs can be joined, enlarged, colors changed through hand gestures. These blocks can be copied and the process used to construct some sort of prototypes can be replayed for analysis and further insight. These forms are not limited to blocks. Tangible landscapes or surfaces permit simulations of natural climate phenomena such as hurricanes. Typically TM is operated on a table top. Back, Matsumoto and Dunnigan (2009) designed a Tangible Media technology to simulate the use of Post-Its™ called Post-Bits. This media form provides groups with the ability to flex, move, sort, stack e-paper in the same way as seen in the real world. These Post- Bits were also designed to capture digital information. They explain how this form of tangible media can be used for stages of the creative process to tackle all kinds of challenges.

Trend 3: The Superorganism:
Technology has leveraged a human trait, and this is our tendency to embed ourselves in social structures. For that reason, networks have expanded exponentially to change the social landscape from a few geographically concentrated networks to a massively distributed global social fabric, the Superorganism. Today’s creative discoveries are byproducts of a distributed collective effort rather than that of the individual genius. With the aid of computer mediated social networks, individuals are constantly sharing ideas, perceptions and opinions. They comprise a very rich melting pot that fuels creativity and innovation in varied domains. As the visionary thinker Alvin Toffler predicted in his book the Third Wave (1980) we are transitioning to an age where boundaries that were once established in the industrial revolution between producers and consumers are fading away to gradually give rise to the socioeconomical archetype of the Prosumer. Thus a new social contract has been established in which it is not enough for people to be passive recipients of goods and services, but where there is a participatory dialogue, articulation and co-creation of value between different individuals and sectors of society (Brown & Katz, 2009).

Opportunities within Open sourcing
One of the clearest and earliest manifestations of this new socio-economical order is open source collaborative projects. Open source phenomena emerged from the software development discipline. Later, software development evolved and began including a process of remote collaborations. Potential users and developers were give access to program code and freedom to independently modify software. Examples of open source products and services are
Linux based operating systems (e.g. Ubuntu), Wikipedia online encyclopedia, and the Mozilla Firefox web browser. Open source collaboration has transformed and revolutionized collaborative creative work. Sourcing practices foster creativity because its participants come from different cultures, domains and backgrounds. They reflect many personalities, cognitive styles, and various approaches to creative problem-solving. When managed appropriately, diversity can serve as a rich resource for novel and valuable ideas. When managed effectively, diverse groups can neutralize toxic personalities that prime dysfunctional group dynamics. People who gravitate toward open or crowd sourcing initiatives are passionate and intrinsically motivated, as these endeavors typically do not offer remuneration or even public recognition.

In these more porous structures, organizational life will be deeply affected by openness and mass collaboration. Leadership will be less and less determined by power structure but by merits of ideas and contributions to the network; as soon as an individual’s idea usefulness or contribution declines, leadership will migrate to other network nodes on the rise (Hammel, 2009). This notion of leadership by merit is still quite new and only few organizations (e.g. Design firm IDEO) have adopted such loose and fluid leadership practices. The scope and extent to which individuals exercise creative leadership, which involves in part the role of building an environment that nurtures the emergence of novelty that is useful (Puccio, Murdock & Mance, 2007), will also shift. Fulfilling this role is already made difficult for leaders working in close and relatively small organizations; it will certainly prove even more challenging in a remote collaborative environment that is also expansively distributed and dauntingly massive.

The Superorganism is by far the most important and pervasive of the discussed trends. The massive sharing and presence in social network engines as seen in Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter are examples of how we have decided to take our social entrenchment to a larger scale with the support of computer and communication technologies. As discussed above, this new socio-technical landscape opens vast collaborative creative possibilities that will be a core driver of technical and social innovation. Citizens of the 21st century are no longer bound by the scope of their geographic location and therefore they can now collaborate in creative endeavors locally and globally.

Open source creativity is expected to move outside the software industry into areas such as manufacturing, services, health and education. It also anticipated that organizational life will be deeply affected by this phenomenon. For example, leadership will not be determined by a power structure but by merits one’s contributions to the network; as soon as an idea loses its appeal, leadership will then migrate to other network areas in search of new and improved ideas. Crowd sourcing practices we expect will be commonplace and as a result, the once clear cut boundaries between producers and consumers, firms and customers will blur.

As exciting as these trends are, one sobering obstacle remains and reminds how easily we can get carried away with the next technological introduction. As Cerf and Schultz (2007) compassionately asserted, “Let me pause to point out the obvious. For about 2 billion people today, the Internet is NOT a reality; it is yet a distant dream or perhaps entirely unknown. Electricity is still unknown or unavailable or unreliable. Sanitation, housing, food, water and education are in limited supply. For those parts of our global society, the Internet and its benefits seem far beyond reach. We must not give up pursuit, however idealistic, of access for all. (p. 2)


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Monday, November 15, 2010

Creative Leadership: Welcome to the 21st Century!

Along with Gerard Puccio and Marie Mance, I published an article recently in an attempt to formalize the concept of Creative Leadership (it will appear in the Winter, 2010 edition of Academic Exchange Quarterly). In addition, I was able to present on the subject recently at the International Leadership Association’s Annual Conference held in Boston, which brings the freshest ideas about leadership into dialogue. I’m happy to report that the concept was very well received! The sticking point for some seems to be their outdated, stunted or unclear ideas about what creativity is – which, I suppose is nothing new.

If you are interested in the idea of creative leadership, check out the summary of the concept below, and feel free to let us know what you think! We are still looking for that illusive “magic bullet” that makes the concept and practice immediately relatable to the “average Joe or Joann”.