Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wanna Create Social Change? Be Creative

David Bornstein's book, How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, describes the qualities Ashoka looks for in the social entrepreneurs they support through their Fellowship program. The quality that stood out the most for me was Creativity.

In the book, Bill Drayton, Ashoka's founder, says that social entrepreneurs need to have two kinds of creativity:
• Goal-setting creativity, "the visionary seeing over the horizon to a different pattern in the field."

• Problem-solving creativity, "to get to this new place, there are a thousand hurdles, a thousand adjustments that these people have to make and they have to be creative about it."
I'd never thought about the connection between creativity and social change before, although it seems rather obvious after reading it. It made me want to hunt down some creativity exercises you could use to inspire creative problem-solving and big visioning.

Here's a selection of what I found:'s 110+ Resources for Creative Minds
eVentureBiz's 8 + Ways to Train Yourself to Be Creative
Creating Natural Influence's: A Simple and Inexpensive Creativity Support System
Web Worker Daily's 4 Ways to Get Unstuck
The Marketing Fresh Peel's Interview with Author Gregg Fraley: Creative Problem Solving (CPS).

What other resources and tools can you recommend to increase creativity and creative problem-solving ?

Flickr Photo Credit: Brainstorms at INDEX: Views by Jacob B√łtter


  1. Hi Britt,
    Thanks for your post. I'd recommend the SIT method, AKA Systematic Inventibe Thinking. This method helps in redirecting the thinking to surprising chanels, by using thinking tools that are counter - intuitive. You can read more about it at the SIT website at
    and the sit blog:

  2. Here are a few ideas for creativity boosting, they are less tools and more ways of being:

    1. Carry a notebook and write your ideas down.
    2. Defer judgement as a way of life.
    3. Initiate/Instigate fun in everything you do.
    4. Have lots of ideas.
    5. Embrace ambiguity.
    6. Separate imaginative from critical thinking.
    7. Find out what you care about and focus on that.

    For some free articles on creativity and innovation see:

    Gregg Fraley
    author of Jack's Notebook

  3. The basic foundation of creativity is curiosity. Without an inquisitive nature, you'll never enter space where real creativity occurs.

    I've increasingly also found that creativity and innovation tend to occur at the intersections of different modes of thinking. These could be different industries, academic disciplines, religions or a myriad of other possibilities. This is the basic philosophy of the "generalist". So, I would suggest checking out websites like Creative Generalist (not my blog, so its not shameless promotion) or checking out a book called "The Medici Effect". The author basically states that all real innovation comes from the synthesis of previous ideas.

  4. Jack's Notebook is a great book for realizing how important a part Creative Problem Solving can play in just about everything you do. Greg did a great job in creating an engaging and easy to read story. He definitely needs to get the sequel going.

    Another great book is Creativity Today, written by the team at New Shoes Today. It's a little harder to get a hold of, since the authors are based in the UK, but it's worth it. The book focuses on using creativity to drive innovation. I interviewed the authors in a previous Post2Post series.

  5. Tuti, Gregg, Brendan and Chris,

    Thanks for sharing all of these resources and suggestions!

  6. Julia Smith3:21 PM

    Hi Britt!

    I also like Accidental Creative podcasts, blog entries, etc:

    p.s. Great to meet you this weekend!

  7. Great to meet you too!

  8. Great post, gave me a lot to think about. Also, great suggestions in the comments, thanks everyone.

    This goes along the lines of the organization I'm involved with, We're doing our best to create some social change and are quite excited about it.

  9. Britt - the whole mission of AllDayBufet is to increase social innovation through the power of creativity and entrepreneurship. Check out our site by visiting

    Also, check out Behance - a company that organizes the creative professional community. They have interesting articles on

  10. Hello Britt. Thanks for the reference to my article. I'm glad you found it insightful. I actually used those techniques for writing that article.

    Another powerful tool you can use to help generate creativity (in business and elsewhere) is by thinking in paradoxes (i.e. opposites).

    Take your problem and turn it into a paradox. Ask yourself, "What is the contradiction of my problem or service?" Then try to imagine how the two of them can co-exist.

    I wrote a marketing article about it called:
    Finding Your Purple Cow By Thinking Laterally, if anyone's interested.


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