Monday, 6 August 2012

What’s involved in creativity? Solo, or Group?

Factors involved in Creativity

Making an Effort: mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.

Courage: to take risks.

Stamina: not to give up, to revise and redraft many times.

Perfect Imperfection: knowing when to stop.

Mentors: to follow, and to rebel against.

Style: it’s not just what you say but how you say it.

Surprise: walking the unexpected, deviation from norms, serendipity

Flow: an intense state of mind when you deliver peak performance

Skills and Tools: to build and develop projects

Confidence: to aspire and to avoid destructive thoughts and negative outlook

Team work: ability and willingness to collaborate effectively and to respect others

Solo or Group?

It is often forgotten that creativity is not just individual, it can exist within a group or a community. Typically a small group will develop more ideas than a person working alone. That's why everyone is getting into co-creation now, from wiki, to games, free source and life hacking. But is there also a danger of group-think compromises and weak statements?

On or Off

Do you have the ability to just turn on the creativity switch?
Yes. It is a kind of skill that can be learned by anyone, in my view. But there is always room for improvement, and some days (and times) are better than others.
Resistance also takes many forms and need to be deconstructed and analysed.

Do you need a Moment of Inspiration?

No. That's the myth of romantic genius that appeared in the late eighteenth century. I don’t want to deny that there is a spark of inspiration. Rather, you need plenty of fuel to sustain and to develop your fire in a sustainable and memorable way.

Do you have to focus and create the mood for creativity to happen ?

Focus is good, but if you try too hard for too long you come up with what has been done before. 

When you say mood I'd suggest that it helps if you are contented rather than disabled by the worst kinds of depression.

Or is it out of your control?

This sounds dangerous. Part of creativity involves a faith in yourself, the ability to take risks, a sense of playfulness, and the cultivation of spontaneity. Spontaneity can be developed by doing things that are unusual or out o character. Again that comes down to confidence in yourself.


Film, collaboration and creativity link
The 32 dangers of collaboration link

General Discussion of the Topic


Mihaly Cskszentmihalyi. Flow.
Mihaly Cskszentmihalyi. Creativity and  the Psychology of Discovery and Invention


In the Wallas stage model, creative insights and illuminations may be explained by a process consisting of 5 stages:

(i) preparation (preparatory work on a problem that focuses the individual's mind on the problem and explores the problem's dimensions),
(ii) incubation (where the problem is internalized into the unconscious mind and nothing appears externally to be happening),
(iii) intimation (the creative person gets a "feeling" that a solution is on its way),
(iv) illumination or insight (where the creative idea bursts forth from its preconscious processing into conscious awareness); and
(v) verification (where the idea is consciously verified, elaborated, and then applied).

Sunday, 5 August 2012

The 15-point Exam Self Examination

book cover of 

The Final Exam 

 (School of Fear, book 3)


Gitty Daneshvari 

 I hope that your exams have not been as traumatic as mine were at school. In this blog, I have taken a long hard look at exam success and failure.

Obviously my research is based on real experiences, rather than irrelevant and dodgy theories.

In my experience of 30 years of teaching in English, and in the Arts, in Schools, and in the University sector,  these are the most common reasons for poor results:

1.    Anxiety based on lack of confidence, poor planning and fear of the unknown

2.    Lack of familiarity with past exam questions

3.    Poor memory skills

4.    Failure to produce model answers in exam conditions

5.    Revision that does not edit and select key points

6.    Revision that does not tailor knowledge to the exam

7.    Answers which are too short, or too long.

8.    Poor awareness of what the examiners are looking for

9.    Not answering the question

10.    Not explaining your thinking processes

11.    Poor range of evidence

12.    Weak communication skills

13.    Not understanding how to plan and structure your answer effectively

14.    Too much time wasted on opening and closing paragraphs.

15.    Running out of sufficient time to complete the required number of well-rounded answers.

The good news is that each of these issues can be addressed.

By reflecting on them and taking action you will significantly improve your exam performance.

You might even learn to enjoy the experience, and become an advocate for examinations.

If you would like to receive further examination tips and advice please drop me a line.

Dr Ian McCormick

Thursday, 2 August 2012

The Nonprofit Twitter Guide - 25 Top Tips

Classic Non-sense Poet - Edward Lear

Even some of the more successful charities, NGOs and nonprofit groups have failed to adapt effectively to the new opportunities afforded by social media. Twitter has often been neglected as irrelevant and vain.

As a useful social media tool, Twitter has often lagged behind Facebook. I suspect that's because the first impression of Twitter is that it is chiefly populated by celebrity gossips and ephemeral personal details that have no relevance to the goals of social transformation and ethical awareness.

Having researched this topic I would like to offer 25 tips for nonprofits to make effective use of Twitter.

1. Tweets (comments posted on Twitter) need to be written with professional care and attention, just like any other form of writing. That means that Twitter will have an impact on your resources. But don't let it take over...

2. Avoid flippancy, rudeness, and excessive personalisation. By the same token, a dull corporate tone starts to sound quite tedious if it lacks any emotional intelligence.

3. Check Tweets for accuracy and errors. It's important to build a reputation for reliability.

4. It makes sense to follow sister and like-minded charities and nonprofits. That means being part of a community and collaborating by co-creating value.

5. Ration your tweets. Excessive tweeting may be compared to an irritating chatterbox at a party who refuses to let you speak or comment on what they've just said. At the outset I lost many followers by tweeting too enthusiastically.

6. Use words and phrases such as 'Please', 'Check out', 'Help me/us to' if you want people to re-tweet your comments. Polite requests are highly valued and respected.

7. In the most common re-tweets (RTs) Questions (?) were more popular than Exclamations (!)

8. Strong positive words are generally preferred to weak words and negative sentiments

9. Avoid emoticons. They are the sign of infantile desperation of the worst kind.

10. Popular RTs include some form of relevant news content

12. Research suggests that people are more likely to RT earlier in the working week (Monday-Wednesday) and during working hours (9-5 EST - USA)

13. A significant proportion of RTs contain a link to further information

14. Tweets are more likely to be re-tweeted as they pass through more hands (in a chain of trusted replication)

15. Tweets that are trusted and valued will have more viral impact for nonprofits, than ones that lack objectivity or are transparently propagandist.

16. Witty and humourous tweets can be effective but they may also backfire or alienate some followers.

17. Your tweet stream and your favourites should constitute a valued and trustworthy experience.

18. Do not endorse what you have not tried and tested yourself.

19. Engage your readers by offering free resources

20. Provide news items, alerts, and thematic or critical insights into current topics in the news

21. Support your readers with helpful resources and advice for common problems

22. Information that warns people about risks or dangers is valued and tends to be re-tweeted

23. Never spread rumours.

24. Build participatory engagement with requests to vote on topics or to take part in competitions

25. Ask readers to comment on blogs or topics and to request further information on topics that they identify as significant for their work.

Please send in any other suggestions and I will add them to the list. Please feel free to copy this blog for use in your own community or nonprofit newsletter. But please attribute the author and the website.

Dr Ian McCormick, recently published a new book:

The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences

UK version 
Smashwords e-book