Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Taking your time- finding the problem, not the solution

 Pink cites the research of celebrated social scientists Jacob Getzels
and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who in the 1960s recruited three dozen
fourth-year art students for an experiment. They brought the young
artists into a studio with two large tables. The first table displayed
27 eclectic objects that the school used in its drawing classes. The
students were instructed to select one or more objects, then arrange a
still life on the second table and draw it. What happened next reveals
an essential pattern about how creativity works:

The young artists approached their task in two distinct ways. Some
examined relatively few objects, outlined their idea swiftly, and
moved quickly to draw their still life. Others took their time. They
handled more objects, turned them this way and that, rearranged them
several times, and needed much longer to complete the drawing. As
Csikszentmihalyi saw it, the first group was trying to solve a
problem: How can I produce a good drawing? The second was trying to
find a problem: What good drawing can I produce?

As Csikszentmihalyi then assembled a group of art experts to evaluate
the resulting works, he found that the problem-finders' drawings had
been ranked much higher in creativity than the problem-solvers'. Ten
years later, the researchers tracked down these art students, who at
that point were working for a living, and found that about half had
left the art world, while the other half had gone on to become
professional artists. That latter group was composed almost entirely
of problem-finders. Another decade later, the researchers checked in
again and discovered that the problem-finders were "significantly more
successful – by the standards of the artistic community – than their
peers." Getzels concluded: