CREATIVITY, EMPATHY AND PIPECLEANERS

14th July 2017

Why were more than fifty adults sitting in a room and making strange objects with glue, lolly sticks, pipe-cleaners and coloured paper? Because they were discovering their own creativity, and they were learning how to change the world.

On Wednesday June 7th Dr Erich Baumgartner and Dr Randy Siebold from Andrews University faculty hosted an innovation lab in Newbold College together with their European MA in Leadership students. For several days the students had been studying creativity and innovation thinking, and this event was an ideal opportunity to put their learning into practice.

For two hours the entire group journeyed through a creative process, which started in an unexpected place – empathy. Participants learned how to listen to someone else’s story and then dig deeper into their narrative to unearth the emotions surrounding their greatest challenge. Then they reframed the problem to view it from a different perspective. Soon everyone was scribbling away, generating lots of possible solutions in just a few minutes. Finally, each person was given 10 minutes to build a very rough prototype of their most ingenious idea. This is where the playdough, paper and pipe-cleaners played a significant role.

At each stage of the process participants were encouraged to follow a human-centred design process, shaping their products around the real needs, ideas and responses of their partners.

The evening was fun, engaging and definitely creative. After two hours the room looked like the set of the CBBC’s Blue Peter show! Each person had strengthened their confidence in their own creativity, a gift from God to show that we all have something of His creativity living deep within us.

As people drifted back out into the summer evening they shared their comments: “That was fun! I’d like to do it again sometime!” “A bit weird, but I can see how important it is to start with empathy. I wouldn't have thought of that before. Perhaps I should spend more time listening” “I’m wondering how I can apply this creative process to my work next week…”

If you missed the creativity and innovation lab, and you would like to discover more about the process you can visit: https://dschool.stanford.edu/resources-collections/a-virtual-crash-course-in-design-thinking

[Karen Holford]


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