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The Creative Thinker's Toolkit

The Creative Thinker's Toolkit

Professor Gerard Puccio Ph.D.
The State University of New York, Buffalo

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The Creative Thinker's Toolkit

The Creative Thinker's Toolkit

Professor Gerard Puccio Ph.D.
The State University of New York, Buffalo
Course No.  5955
Course No.  5955
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Course Overview

About This Course

24 lectures  |  30 minutes per lecture

People are born creative geniuses, right? With a special gene that endows them with inventiveness the rest of us only wish we had?

According to the latest scientific research, that’s hardly the case at all. In turns out anyone can be creative. You just have to know how to think creatively.

In today’s hyperactive world—where bold new challenges can seem to bring about the same stale answers—creative thinking is more important than ever. And it’s about more than just writing a novel or composing a piece of music. Creative thinking involves taking a broader, more imaginative approach to analyzing and solving the everyday challenges we all face, whether in the office or at home.

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People are born creative geniuses, right? With a special gene that endows them with inventiveness the rest of us only wish we had?

According to the latest scientific research, that’s hardly the case at all. In turns out anyone can be creative. You just have to know how to think creatively.

In today’s hyperactive world—where bold new challenges can seem to bring about the same stale answers—creative thinking is more important than ever. And it’s about more than just writing a novel or composing a piece of music. Creative thinking involves taking a broader, more imaginative approach to analyzing and solving the everyday challenges we all face, whether in the office or at home.

By training yourself to become a more creative thinker, you can

  • develop and bring to fruition new answers to problems that once seemed daunting or unsolvable;
  • become more persuasive in how you present and sell your ideas;
  • avoid tired solutions in favor of novel ones with the potential for even greater success;
  • strengthen your ability to lead teams and organizations; and
  • reach new levels of satisfaction and fulfillment in your daily life.

Because creativity is a set of skills that anyone can improve, you can learn how to wield the same research-based tools and techniques that today’s creative people use in their own work. All you need is an open mind, a determination to succeed, and The Creative Thinker’s Toolkit. Award-winning Professor Gerard Puccio of Buffalo State–The State University of New York—an expert in creative thinking and a consultant to individual clients and large companies—has crafted 24 lectures that take you step-by-step through the creative-thinking process and that use real-world scenarios to show you this vital skill in action.

Whether you want to overcome writer’s block, look at your career with a fresh perspective, solve a complex business problem, introduce a new idea to the marketplace, or figure out the best way to resolve a tense argument, Professor Puccio’s course will give you everything you need so that when other people are dodging life’s challenges, you’re uncovering the potentially successful opportunities they’ll have missed.

Explore the Creative Problem-Solving Process

It doesn’t matter if you’re a Nobel Prize-winning writer, a Fortune 500 CEO, or a high school student; the stages of thought you move through to close the gap between what you have and what you want are the same. And the most reliable way to do so is with creative problem solving, the model that Professor Puccio uses as the backbone of The Creative Thinker’s Toolkit.

Creative problem solving is delightfully intuitive, building on the natural creative process in all of us instead of replacing it. It’s also the most widely researched deliberate creative process model in existence—and one of the most effective methods used in creativity training in organizations and universities around the world.

With this series, you’ll get a solid introduction to the four major stages of this process. Each stage, as you’ll learn, involves a different way of thinking and a different set of tools to facilitate greater creativity. And all of them can be adapted to fit the demands of your own particular challenge.

  • Clarify: Once you’ve determined your problem and your goal, you need to identify the challenges (both obvious and hidden) you’ll have to address and overcome to achieve the results you want.
  • Ideate: This stage is about generating ideas: good ones, bad ones, ugly ones. It’s also where tools like brainstorming, brainwriting, forced connections, and even borrowing from others can lead you to out-of-the-box solutions.
  • Develop: Now you need to focus on development, which involves taking your ideas, evaluating them, determining which ones are workable, and transforming them into solutions.
  • Implement: Last comes the most tactical part of the process, in which you move the solutions from your own head into reality, using a plan that includes specific, measurable steps.

Learn the Tools of the Creative Trade

According to Professor Puccio, creative problem solving is a toolbox. As such, his fascinating lectures are packed with tools you can pick up and carry with you any time you find yourself in a situation that demands a more creative approach. You’ll learn how each stage of the creative-thinking process comes with its own set of equipment designed to maximize your creativity and increase your ability to solve problems and achieve your desired goals.

  • Brainwriting: Traditional brainstorming sessions not fruitful enough? Try this silent method, in which participants write their ideas and swap papers with one another, using cross-fertilization to build on already written ideas or add entirely new ones.
  • Solution enactment: A kind of dress rehearsal often used by tech developers, this tool involves acting out a proposed solution to see how it could be improved. It can also help you more effectively communicate abstract ideas and processes.
  • Stakeholder analysis: To determine who can support (or hinder) the success of your plan of action, analyze the positions of those individuals who have a stake in your plan. Then, devise a set of specific actions aimed at gaining their support.
  • How-How diagram: Designed to help move your solution forward, this webbing tool forces you to be more concrete by repeatedly asking yourself, “How do I achieve this solution?” in order to shift your perspective into concrete action steps.

Using simple exercises, in-studio demonstrations, hypothetical scenarios, and the real-world experiences and successes of creative giants in business, science, and the arts, Professor Puccio teaches you how to wield these and other fascinating tools. He also shows you how to select the tools that work best for your unique situation, and invites you to take a step back and see how the lessons of creative thinking can help you become a better leader and live a more creative life.

Learn from an Inspirational Master of Creative Thinking

As you explore the creative-thinking process in great detail, you’ll gain more than just a framework with which to tackle tomorrow’s professional and personal challenges. You’ll also discover a little more about yourself.

The Creative Thinker’s Toolkit comes complete with access to FourSight, a short self-evaluation measure developed by Professor Puccio that can help determine what kind of creative thinker you are. Are you an ideator who thrives on playing with possibilities? Or are you more of a developer; someone who can quickly spot ways to enhance and improve an idea?

Whatever kind of creative thinker you are, you’ll find yourself in the hands of a master educator who has devoted his entire career to researching and instructing others about creative thinking as the road to success. Professor Puccio’s outstanding work as a scholar has won him The State University of New York’s Research and Scholarship Award and the Buffalo State President’s Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship, and Creativity. He’s also delivered training programs and keynote speeches on creativity to major corporations, universities, and school districts.

But what you’ll likely find most enjoyable about learning with Professor Puccio is his inspiration and encouragement. Throughout these lectures, he proves that with a little hard work, anyone can become a more creative thinker.

“If you wish to see change, you have to model the way for others to see,” he says. “I encourage you to embrace your creativity, model it for others, and be a creative force in your work. And all that you do.”

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24 Lectures
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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? x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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). x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 13
    Systematic 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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 accepted. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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? x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x

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Gerard Puccio
Ph.D. Gerard Puccio
The State University of New York, Buffalo
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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Reviews

Rated 3.9 out of 5 by 17 reviewers.
Rated 2 out of 5 by "Creativity" in Dr. Puccio's toolkit? Missing! I struggled to get through this course. Why? Because Dr. Puccio lacked enthusiasm, lacked spontaneity and, sadly, lacked the scholarship we expect from the Great Courses. I wanted to learn how to bring out my own creative juices, but this course does nothing of the sort. In fact, the presenter's poor pronunciation, poor grammar, and lack of knowledge in the field of creativity made me cringe. This course made me wonder if something is missing from Dr. Puccio's toolkit. Creativity? November 24, 2014
Rated 2 out of 5 by Not What I Was Expecting Absolutely not what I was expecting. The material and the instructor were extremely boring. I cannot believe one could cover so many courses on 'creative thinking'. The instructor really lost me when he mentioned 'evolution'. November 12, 2014
Rated 1 out of 5 by A Scam I purchased this course after excellent experiences with "Skepticism 101" and" The Philosopher's Toolbox". What a disappointment. This professor is running a large scam with this course and, based on his stories, also at the conferences and seminars he produces. If you are a fan of clichés, buzzwords and worn out sayings, you will like this class. This man is the epitome of what is wrong with education in America. His presentation makes one believe that he is making it up as he goes along. His "toolkit" is nothing more than the wishful thinking of a lifetime, tenured instructor. It took me a long time to get through this course as I had to force myself to listen to the second set of CDs, hoping something good would happen. It never did. As a professional educator myself, I am appalled that a fine company like yours would market a dud like this. Like all of education, on this one, you lowered your standards. I will purchase more courses, but the next one like this will be my last. November 6, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by Another winner If you don't need to walk away with a diploma, these course provide a wealth of information that is equal to any class I've taken. October 18, 2014
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