Haha and aha! : creativity, idea generation, improvisational humor, and product design
Author(s)Kudrowitz, Barry M. (Barry Matthew)
Creativity, idea generation, improvisational humor, and product design
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Mechanical Engineering.
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It is widely recognized that innovation and creativity is the new competitive battleground for product development firms. Engineers and product designers are now expected to be highly creative, prolific idea generators in addition to being analytically competent. Thus, it is of interest to study methods to improve a designer's idea generation capabilities. It is believed that wit, being spontaneous humor production, is strongly related to creativity as both involve making nonobvious connections between seemingly unrelated things. This thesis looks into the realm of humor and improvisational comedy to suggest means of enhancing creative output in blue-sky product design idea generation. We have found that the ability to quickly generate many ideas is strongly correlated (r2=.82) with being able to come up with a single, promising, creative idea. It was also found that, with appropriate training, individuals may learn to become more prolific idea generators. Furthermore, improvisational comedians were more proficient at new product idea generation than professional product designers, and methods for training comedians can be effectively adapted to product design idea generation. In a study where 84 participants (students, professional designers and improvisational comedians) took a cartoon caption humor test and a nominal product brainstorming test, we found that improvisational comedians on average produced 20% more product ideas and 25% more creative product ideas than professional product designers. Furthermore, the few individuals that were highly prolific in both creative product ideation and humorous cartoon caption production had an improvisational comedy background. Many of the games used in improvisational comedy training are intended to promote associative thinking. We designed an improvisational comedy workshop composed of these association-based games. A group of 11 subjects who participated in this workshop increased their idea output on average by 37% in a subsequent product brainstorming session. Our findings suggest that improvisational comedy games are a useful warm-up for idea generation, that prolific generation is not a domain-specific ability and that it is possible to teach creativity. Ultimately, this work can lead to the development of tools and methods that designers can use to improve their idea generation skills.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, 2010.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 107-116).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Mechanical Engineering.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology