April 6, 2012

Unpacking Your Creative "Suitcase"


Yesterday was the first day of our spring quarter course on creativity at Stanford dschool and we jumped right in! I told the class that I really hate my suitcase... I travel a lot and find my carry-on bag to be quite a pain. After I spend the time packing it, I have to unpack it again in the security line at the airport; there often isn't room for it in the luggage rack; and since I pack it so densely it is really hard for me to lift into the rack... Please help! I ask them to design a new suitcase for me.

Within 10 minutes they have created a long list of really cool new ideas, including a suitcase that unrolls, a suitcase built into your coat, and a suitcase with expandable inserts.



After we discuss their really cool ideas, and they are very proud of the results, I challenge them to push even further. Why do we use suitcases in the first place? We all agree that we use suitcases to make sure that we have what we need at our destination. How might you do that without a suitcase? With this new perspective, the students go back to the drawing board and start again. In ten minutes, they have a wealth of new ideas!

What about a service that allows you can rent high fashion clothes at your destination? What about having one packed suitcase that knows where you will be and arrives before you do? Or, what about creating a high resolution virtual reality setting that allows you to meet in a virtual world without packing a bag? 



This exercise is designed to demonstrate that the questions you ask are the frames into which the answers fall. When trying to come up with truly innovative ideas, you need to spend as much time crafting the question you ask as you do generating creative solutions.


7 comments:

Abraham Williams said...

Fantastic! Is that the way to think big...to walk back up the question and root out the assumptions and then question those? Can I come and audit one of these classes?

Tina Seelig said...

Abraham, I can't offer you an auditing spot in the class, but you can read the class blog at http://creativity.stanford.edu. The students will be tracking their progress and reflections throughout the course. Enjoy!

Larry Glover said...

Beautiful. I love the concluding paragraph, the recognition that the question determines the answer.... This is no small acknowledgement. Thank you.

Piyush said...

wow...I would love to visit the class but I am not worried as I am joining Online Class on Creativity by you :) Felling lucky to have you as tutor. Excited!!

Reid Wilson said...

Tina,

I just wanted to pay you the compliment of: What I Wish I Knew when I was 20 is a great book. I just read it in two days. I will be applying some design concepts in my Student Life role. The crafting of the question about which you speak in this blog is evident in your writing. I will be using it for inspiration on i2know.org soon and will mention your book.

Thank you for your creation(s).
Reid

Reid Wilson said...

Tina,

I just wanted to pay you the compliment of: What I Wish I Knew when I was 20 is a great book. I just read it in two days. I will be applying some design concepts in my Student Life role. The crafting of the question about which you speak in this blog is evident in your writing. I will be using it for inspiration on i2know.org soon and will mention your book.

Thank you for your creation(s).
Reid

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