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Tools for Innovation$
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Arthur Markman and Kristin Wood

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195381634

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195381634.001.0001

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On “Out-of-the-Box” Thinking in Creativity

On “Out-of-the-Box” Thinking in Creativity

Chapter:
(p.23) Chapter 2 On “Out-of-the-Box” Thinking in Creativity
Source:
Tools for Innovation
Author(s):

Robert W. Weisberg

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195381634.003.0002

It is commonly believed that creative thinking—the cognitive processes that bring about novel ideas and objects—is based on thinking “outside of the box.” Creativity is assumed to require that we break away from our knowledge, and use some sort of extraordinary thought process to leap into the unknown. This chapter proposes, in contrast, that “inside-the-box thinking” is the basis for creativity: innovation is based on extensive knowledge in the area in question and moves beyond what is known in increments—small steps—based on ordinary cognitive processes, such as retrieval of knowledge from memory, analogical thinking, and logical reasoning. Examination of historical case studies of seminal innovations—Watson and Watson and Crick's discovery of the double helix; the Wright brothers' invention of the airplane; Edison's invention of the kinetoscope (the first moving pictures); Picasso's creation of his great painting Guernica; and a case study of innovation in industry, IDEO's development of a new shopping cart—supports the idea that creative thinking was based first on a deep knowledge of the area. The thinkers moved beyond what was known in increments, rather than leaps, and they built on the past, rather than rejecting it. The idea that creativity is based on inside-the-box thinking and ordinary cognitive processes has implications for corporate innovation, several of which are discussed.

Keywords:   creativity, expertise, logic, reasoning, analogy, out-of-the-box thinking, Watson and Crick, Picasso, Wright brothers, Edison, IDEO

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