Monday, February 19, 2018

Book Review: InGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity (2012) by Tina L. Seelig

InGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity (2012) by Tina L. Seelig

My first encounter with Tina Seelig was gone I searched the internet for talks and documentaries on innovation and creativity. Her TED Talk on the same title amazed me. And her Talks at Google caused me to say, ‘This woman is brilliant!’ She is an international best-selling author and award-winning Stanford University educator and she teaches creativity to students at Stanford and to business leaders around the world. With this credibility, she is the most suitable writer to write on how to be (more) creative and uses simple tools to enhance each individual creative genius.

In today’s world, innovation and creative problem solving are more important than merely having knowledge and good grades. Albert Einstein once said, “Imagination (or creativity) is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.” That is not to say knowledge is not important – I vow to pursue knowledge every day for the rest of my life – but knowledge alone is not enough. Tina Seelig argues that creativity “is not just something you think about (knowledge) – it is something you do.” And because it is something we do, then, creativity can be taught and enhance from inside out – it is doable. The word ‘ingenious’ is derived from Latin which means natural capacity or innate talent. We can, Tina believes, ignite our inborn inventiveness. Let’s do it!

In this book, Tina offers a revolutionary creative model she called ‘Innovative Engine’ which explains how creativity is generated on the inside and how it is influenced by the outside world (refer to pic below, comment section). There are 6 crucial components: the three insides are – knowledge, imagination, and attitude; and the three outside are – resources, habitat, and culture. In the inside, knowledge provides the fuel for imagination; imagination is the catalyst for the transformation of knowledge into new ideas, and attitude sparks curiosity to acquire related knowledge. From the outside, innovation is influenced by resources, habitat, and culture (think of Google creative-culture).

Tina shows many easy and fun examples in this book: Chapters 1 to 3 delve into the process of enhancing our imaginations by reframing problems, connecting ideas (or ‘connecting the dots’ said Steve Jobs) and challenging assumptions. Chapter 4 focuses on the power of observation to gain knowledge. Chapter 5 to 8 investigates the factors in our habitats that influence our creativity including space, constraints, incentives and team dynamics. Chapter 9 to 10 address our attitudes in doing and thinking about problems or new ideas. And the last chapter 11 she pulls the components back together and shows how all the parts fit together to create the ‘Innovation Engine’, a powerful engine for innovation.

In conclusion, Seelig writes: “You hold the keys to your Innovation Engine and have creative genius waiting to be unleashed. By tapping into this natural resource, you have the power to overcome challenges and generate opportunities for all dimensions. Your ideas – big and small – are the critical starting point for innovations that propel us forward. Without creativity, you are trapped in a world that is not just stagnant, but one that slips backward. As such, we are each responsible for inventing the future. Turn the key.” Buy this book!

[Btw, I bought this book from book fair last year, just RM10. I’m one happy reader!]


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