I will shortly start writing posts about the “Good Products, Bad Products” book being published by McGraw Hill and which has just left the bindery and is scheduled to be in stores and on sale over the web by January 13th. But first I would like to write a couple more posts about creativity, innovation, and change, because the book argues for more emphasis on product quality, in particular on a number of aspects of quality that in my opinion receive too little attention. Increasing quality requires creativity, innovation, and change.
In this post I would like to say a few words about a book I wrote entitled Conceptual Blockbusting. The success of this book has amazed (and obviously pleased) me. I wrote it in 1974 at the request of the Stanford Alumni Association, which was beginning a series entitled “The Portable Stanford”. The idea of this series was to give alumni a quarterly opportunity to buy a small and readable book by a Stanford faculty member. The book was based on a three or four hour mini-workshop that Bob Mckim, a colleague in the Design Division at Stanford, and I gave to a number of alumni gatherings. I was willing to play, but Bob was busy on another book, so I wrote it. As I remember, I wrote it in rather short order, since it was based on material that I used in teaching courses in design and in creativity, and I had an extraordinary talented editor/designer named Cynthia Gunn.
Here we are almost 40 years later, and it is still selling and gathering favorable comments not only in the U,S., but in a number of other countries. Why? At this point I think I can guess, although when I wrote it I doubt if I would have. Its timing was good. There weren’t that many books on creativity at the time and the world seemed to be in the process of change. It describes a number of inhibitions (blocks) to creativity and innovation that are common among homo sapiens. In fact it is good that they are, because creativity is combined with control in life, and if we were without any inhibitions to creativity, we would probably not be here as a species. The book is intended to get the reader to think about these inhibitions and question them. It includes reasons for their existance and strategies to decrease/ get around them. Along the way it discusses a bit of theory that is pertinent to understanding creativity and gives many exercises and problems that allow the reader to experience these inhibitions. I have given a very large number of talks and workshops on this topic, and it turns out that people generally enjoy thinking about creativity in this format and find that it gives them often valuable insights into the way their mind works.
I have written four editions of this book, and although flatteringly I have often been asked when I will do another, I do not know if I will, because creativity and innovation are receiving much more attention now than when I wrote the book. In short, there are creativity books, symposia, games, educational programs, and people who consider themselves experts all over the place. But I am mentioning the book here, because it is an indication of the way I think about creativity (in terms of blocks) and I will refer to it from time to time. I guess also because over these many years I have been convinced that it must be a good book.
As you may know, if you click on the book descriptions in the side bar of this blog, you will be rapidly transported to the pertinent page at Amazon.com, where you can learn more about the book pictured. Conceptual Blockbusting is among them. I will add a description for books I review and have found helpful as I write posts. I am also including a brief outline showing the blocks discussed in Conceptual Blockbusting here.