The Creative Thinker's Toolkit

The Creative Thinker's Toolkit
Course Trailer
The Creative Person-Practice and Passion
1: The Creative Person-Practice and Passion

What, exactly, is creativity? Take a closer look at what makes a creative person in this introductory lecture that explores ancient ideas about creativity (including the muses of the ancient Greeks); debunks common myths about the sources of creativity; and examines how play, passion, practice, and purpose can enhance your own creative thinking.

34 min
Lateral Thinking Is a Survival Skill
2: Lateral Thinking Is a Survival Skill

First, investigate the evolutionary history of creativity in human beings and the fascinating paradox of conformity and creativity-both essential to the survival and development of our species. Then, learn about how modern education approaches creativity in our youth, and several lateral thinking skills to promote more playful ideation.

29 min
Creative Styles-Adaptors and Innovators
3: Creative Styles-Adaptors and Innovators

Using examples of real-life creative icons, investigate two major "styles" of creativity exemplified by Norman Rockwell and Pablo Picasso. The first: adaptors, who are precise, reliable, and detail oriented. The second: innovators, who approach problems from novel angles. Where do you fall on the adaptor-innovator style spectrum? Why is it so important to be flexible?

31 min
Combining Opposites-Diverge, Then Converge
4: Combining Opposites-Diverge, Then Converge

Focus now on the nature of creative thinking itself, with a look at divergent thinking (which involves intuition and associative thought) and convergent thinking (which selects and develops the most promising ideas). Along the way, you'll learn skills for balancing these surprisingly complementary ways of thinking in your own life.

29 min
Principles for Unleashing Your Imagination
5: Principles for Unleashing Your Imagination

There are times when we all want (or need) to be creative on demand. And with the right approach, it's possible. Here, use Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway as a lens through which to explore four key principles of creativity training: defer judgment, go for quantity, make connections, and seek novelty.

28 min
Principles for Converging on the Best Ideas
6: Principles for Converging on the Best Ideas

What mindset and attitude do you need to decide which of your ideas to pursue? Professor Puccio reveals the four key principles you need for success: practicing affirmative judgment, keeping novelty alive, checking your objectives to make sure they meet the needs of reality, and-of course-staying focused.

30 min
Stages of the Creative Process-and You
7: Stages of the Creative Process-and You

Learn explicitly about creative problem solving, a research-based process that can help close the gap between what you have and what you want. There are four stages: clarify (identifying the challenge), ideate (generating tentative solutions), develop (turning good ideas into great solutions), and implement (moving your solutions from your head to reality).

31 min
Clarifying the Challenge
8: Clarifying the Challenge

This lecture focuses on the clarification step of creative problem solving, in which you identify your goal, gather data, and formulate your challenge. Professor Puccio shows you how to use a variety of helpful tools, including finding out the "who, what, where, when, why, and how" of a problematic situation and developing a powerful challenge statement.

32 min
Clarify Even More-Webbing and Storyboarding
9: Clarify Even More-Webbing and Storyboarding

Continue learning about clarification with a closer look at some more advanced tools to add to your toolkit. One is webbing, which leverages two probing questions to broaden your perspective and think in abstract terms. The other is storyboarding, a tool designed to tell your story in a visual sequence.

34 min
Classic Brainstorming and Brainwriting
10: Classic Brainstorming and Brainwriting

Learn how to brainstorm the right way. Explore the three roles in a classic brainstorming session (the facilitator, client, and resource group members) and try your hand at brainwriting, a variation on brainstorming that involves silent cross-ideation-all while peering over the shoulders of an actual brainstorming session in action.

31 min
Tools for Enhanced Brainstorming
11: Tools for Enhanced Brainstorming

Get three more advanced tools to help you generate bold, creative ideas. The first is reverse brainstorming, a variation that helps shake things up. The second is forced relationships, which facilitate associative thought and recharge thinking. The third is visually identifying relationships, which uses images and pictures to stimulate ideas.

30 min
Borrowing and Modifying Ideas
12: Borrowing and Modifying Ideas

True creators don't work in isolation. Instead, they often borrow from or modify the ideas of their predecessors. Here, learn how to incorporate solutions from other people (as well as nature) into your specific challenge with the power of tools in Synectics, which rely on the use of direct and personal analogies.

32 min
Systemic Tools to Generate New Ideas
13: Systemic Tools to Generate New Ideas

Attribute listing, which makes small variations to an idea. Morphological matrix, which combines two attributes to create new outcomes. SCAMPER, a mnemonic for idea-spurring questions (Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to other uses, Eliminate, and Rearrange). Put these fascinating idea-generation tools to work in a series of fun, real-world exercises.

31 min
Developing Ideas-Toward Great Solutions
14: Developing Ideas-Toward Great Solutions

How can you best transform a broad idea into a workable solution that resolves your challenge? Find out ways to make development even more efficient. The main focus in this lecture: the POINT tool, an acronym for a smart, flexible evaluative process that can be used in a variety of ways.

29 min
Prototypes-How Designers Test Ideas
15: Prototypes-How Designers Test Ideas

Continue to spur your creative development-this time from the perspective of a designer. You'll learn the principles of the design-thinking process (including reframing, ideating, and user understanding); explore the benefits of foresight scenarios, prototyping, and solution enactments; and discover how best to leverage the power of design thinking's user-centered approach.

31 min
Evaluating Creative Solutions and Making Decisions
16: Evaluating Creative Solutions and Making Decisions

Creative work involves many difficult decisions. Improve the way you make creative development decisions with the use of several advanced tools that make this natural process more formal and systematic: the seven-step evaluation matrix, solution mapping, targeting, and more.

33 min
Giving Ideas Legs-Implementation Planning
17: Giving Ideas Legs-Implementation Planning

What's so creative about implementing your idea? Find out here, as Professor Puccio shares strategies and techniques for moving your solution forward, including using a How-How Diagram to drill down your plan into specific action steps and creating a performance dashboard to visually "monitor" your plan as you're implementing it.

27 min
Persuasion and the Selling of New Ideas
18: Persuasion and the Selling of New Ideas

Assistors and Resistors-a tool that uses contextual thinking to put yourself into the future so that you can examine the forces that will influence the creation and execution of your breakthrough idea. Learn how to leverage forces that propel you toward success, along with other persuasive ways (including the application of stakeholder analysis) to help get your proposed solutions and changes acce...

33 min
Tools for Bringing It All Together
19: Tools for Bringing It All Together

Now that you've learned the steps of the creative-thinking process, learn how to arrange everything in your toolkit using metacognition and several "metaprocess" skills. You'll see these tools in action in a variety of scenarios, and you'll also get the inside scoop on how to dodge common metacognition mistakes.

31 min
Lifting the Emotional Lid on Creativity
20: Lifting the Emotional Lid on Creativity

To maximize the power of creative thinking, you need the right emotional mindset. Professor Puccio offers you tips for doing so by investigating emotional intelligence, revealing the dangers of emotional hijacking, and stressing the importance of reflecting and redirecting to help stave off your fear, anxiety, and uncertainty.

27 min
The Environment-Physical and Psychological
21: The Environment-Physical and Psychological

Are you in the right environment to maximize your creativity? What do we mean by creating the right physical and psychological climate? How can sound, light, and time of day affect your creative thought process? What 10 specific psychological dimensions are predictors of high levels of creativity?

32 min
Creative Leadership-Regardless of Title
22: Creative Leadership-Regardless of Title

Today's complex world demands more creative leaders. First, explore how evolving theories of leadership have started to embrace the importance of creativity. Then, look at why leadership itself is so crucial to the creative process. Finally, discover how creative problem solving is widely viewed as a core competency of any effective leader.

31 min
Overcoming Blocks and Barriers
23: Overcoming Blocks and Barriers

There are many internal and external barriers out there that can inhibit us from effective creative thinking. But you don't have to let these physical and perceptual blocks and habits deter you. Instead, learn how to beat them back with research-backed strategies that involve deferring judgment, defocusing, and distancing.

33 min
Living a Creative Life
24: Living a Creative Life

Finish the course with a capstone look at how one can live creatively as well as think creatively. Some of the inspirational principles of a creative life that you'll look at include reclaiming your creativity, going big or going home, creating multiple options for yourself, and suspending disbelief in order to live and practice a more creative approach to every aspect of your life.

33 min
Gerard Puccio

As I firmly believe creativity is a crucial life skill, my keen passion is to share proven practices for enhancing creative thinking with the widest audience possible.


The University of Manchester


The State University of New York, Buffalo

About Gerard Puccio

Dr. Gerard Puccio is a professor at The State University of New York at Buffalo for Studies in Creativity, a unique academic department that offers the world’s first and leading Master of Science in Creativity. Professor Puccio holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from The University of Manchester in England. Professor Puccio’s research interests include the identification of creative thinking preferences and the efficacy of creativity training. In recognition of his outstanding work as a scholar, Professor Puccio received The State University of New York’s Research and Scholarship Award in 2004 and the Buffalo State President’s Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship, and Creativity in 2007. An accomplished speaker and consultant, Professor Puccio has worked with major corporations, universities, and school districts to deliver training programs and keynote speeches. His clients include the British Broadcasting Corporation, Fisher-Price brands, Sun Life Financial, Kraft Foods, and Coca-Cola. He has also delivered creativity workshops and presentations around the world, and he was a featured speaker at TEDxGramercy on creative thinking as a life skill. Professor Puccio has written or coauthored more than 50 articles, chapters, and books, including The Innovative Team: Unleashing Creative Potential for Breakthrough Results; and Creative Leadership: Skills That Drive Change.

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