Structured Creativity
5 Sep 11

Creativity is the generation of novel ideas. This page covers "structured" creativity. More traditional, freewheeling creativity techniques, are covered on the unstructured creativity page.

Structured creativity uses combinations of attributes to generate thousands of options. These techniques are intended to design complicated products or processes. They are used when specific needs must be met, usually by a deadline.

Web rings
The most established site for morphological analysis is provided by the Swedish Morphological Society. [EL, Sep 08]

Tools and techniques
The most well known structured technique is morphological analysis. This approach was developed by Franz Zwicky, a Swiss physicist working at the California Institute of Technology from 1925 until 1968, dying in 1978. However, it is also the basis of the Leonardo da Vinci Ideabox, according to Michael Michalko. It looks at every combination of characteristics of possible products in order to generate options that otherwise would not be thought of. This technique can generate thousands of alternatives whereas the best unstructured creativity technique can generate only tens to hundreds.

A descriptions of morphological analysis is also available from Mindtools.

The Design Structure Matrix (DSM) is a way of showing components and their relationships. It shows a design but does not suggest how to get ideas about what should be in the design. The proponents of DSM, such as Richard de Neufville or his students,
Bartolomei or Kalligeros (4Mb of PhD thesis) and of MIT, have gone on to describe ‘Real Options in Design’, which does help in generating these ideas.

Ralph Keeney introduces the “
Value-Focused Thinking” [Note: You can get this article if you go through your library and use its links to MIT Sloan journal] approach for generating alternatives by starting with the list of values and asking, “what are good ways of meeting this value?”. These alternatives are then combined over the set of values to form the possible options. In this approach, each value forms the seed for alternatives. You think of the different ways the value can be met.

Dr David Hughess, in 1998, provided an interesting comparison between TRIZ and the Obsorn-Parnes Creative Problem Solving Process. In it, he describes how to systematically consider values, or contradictions between values, as a source of ideas - similar to risk-remedy in a way. [EJL, May 09].