Creative Problem Solving
In this episode we learn about the basic principles of creating: associative thinking, judging ideas, moments of inspiration, putting aside one's ego and more. It's back to the basics. Maarten Bel will share his own experiences as an artist in creative problem solving.
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Hi Maarten, welcome to our studio.
You're here because you're giving a workshop. You gave a workshop. Because it was this morning.
On creative problem solving.
That's a mouthful.
Yes, I know.
It was on a Monday morning, so it was quite tough. But we managed.
How did it go?
I think it went quite well, actually. The responses were quite positive.
But maybe we should start with your background. Because you're not an event planner. Not a business kind of guy.
No, I even heard there was a dress code, actually. But I just missed that in the briefing.
What was the dress code?
I think business casual. So, this is it, actually.
Business casual, yes.
Yes, it was funny. It's quite different from...
Because I've quite another background. So, I have a bachelor’s in fine arts. And I also did a master in artistic research. So, most of the time I'm surrounded with art people, I would say. But it's quite interesting to be here.
And I think I can learn from them and I can definitely teach them something.
So, you're not lost here. You're here with a reason.
No, no, I'm not lost, no. I'm here with a reason.
And actually, no, the workshop was about, like, creative problem solving. And about creative thinking. And they invited me to do a workshop. Talk about that. And I think...
I really believe, like, the methodologies, for example, that you use in a creative process are, kind of like: everyone can use them. It doesn't matter if you're organizing events or if you're a musician or even if you're, like, in banking. You can also...
Well, we have seen that in the past.
You can be very creative.
So, actually these methodologies and the ways of thinking are quite similar. But, yes, that's my background.
Okay, but can you explain how...
Because you use the word creativity and process in one sentence. I thought they were the opposite, or something.
That's funny about the creative process, right? It's kind of like...
I also see that like actually you should almost do, kind of like, the opposite. You come up with something. It's like, you probably recognize, also, the moment when you're, kind of like, not intending to create something. And then all of the ideas are just starting to pop up. If you're in the shower. If you're trying to, like, sleep. On your bike. And I even have that...
Because I have, like, a lot of sketch books. I always have my sketch book with me. For ideas. For many things. And I just realized that when I put my sketch book next to my bed, so, like...
Because I always have ideas when I'm sleeping. When I put it next to my bed, they don't come, the ideas. And when I just put it down in the living room...
So, I have to get out of the bed. And so, I don't want to, you know, have new ideas. Because I don't want to, you know, get up and go down. Then all the ideas come up. So, that's quite ironic about, you know, creative thinking, I think.
If you go into a little bit of detail. About your workshop this morning. What did you teach the event planners? On how to be creative.
Actually, I just was quite interactive. We did a lot of, like, small exercises. And I just shared my knowledge. And experiences in this process.
Can you give some examples?
Yes, for example...
Well, the moment you...
For example, it's very hard to, if you have to solve something or you want to, I don't know, create something. It's very hard to come up with something good. Like, everyone really wants to have a good idea. But if, for example, if you do it, like the other way. It's way more easy, for example, to come up with a terrible idea. To just like...
And then like...
Sometimes I went with students, for example. You're just stuck in the process. And they just really try to come up with something brilliant. And I say: stop doing this, you know? Just try to do the opposite now. Just come up with, like, five terrible ideas in the next three minutes. And it's so easy for them. And you can do anything. You can just kill people. You can kill the planet. Doesn't matter. It can cost like 10 million. And it's very easy. And it's because we judge, constantly, our ideas. About, like, if it costs too much money. If it is good for the planet. If we have enough money. All these. Or maybe someone else actually did something similar. So, we're constantly judging about these ideas. Which is not good. Definitely not in the beginning of a creative process. So, for example, let them, like, write down five terrible ideas. And then it's like: impossible to do that. But then they have to look again. At these ideas. And then just change them a little bit. And then, often, there's actually already something very interesting in this idea.
In the bad idea.
In the bad idea. And if you just change it a little bit. And it becomes quite good, actually.
So, that was one of the exercises that we did.
I also read about associative thinking.
Yes, actually, that's kind of like the...
I think that's one of the basic principles of the creative thinking. Because when I say, like for example, fish to you. You probably have associations with a fish.
And if you say water, I think about swimming. And when I say swimming, you think about?
So, that's how the mind works. And if you come up with an...
If you want to have an idea, your mind has to make a connection with something from your memory. Or your experience. Or you have seen today. But, for example, when you're stuck, you can also feed your mind with input. So, I don't know...
Do you have any problems, recently, you want to solve? Can be in your house. Anything.
One of the biggest challenges, I always find: we're planning a conference and we need a name for it.
That's always a difficult one.
A good name for it. Okay, and can...
Let me see if there's something in the room. Sometimes even an object, for example there's a fan behind the camera, can a fan inspire you in solving that problem.
That's an interesting approach.
Maybe, I don't know...
Maybe you can just attach different letters and it will just blow away. And it will create new words. I don't know. So, actually, if you just put something in your mind, or feed your mind with input. It's so much more easy, to come up with new ideas. Or, if you imagine another person, like a doctor or a carpenter. How would he solve the problem? And you just start to think from his or her perspective. To give you a new insight on the problem.
Okay, that's very interesting.
And it's so simple.
There are different methods to be creative. Is there a right method for a certain problem? Or doesn't it matter? And you just need to go. And trust the flow.
Yes, I think, actually, the methodologies are quite similar. I think it's also...
Because also, for example, when I'm working on something, I really, kind of, use different methodologies. And it's just where I am.
Sometimes, it's just like starting to write down different words. Or looking at images on Google. Or sometimes I go to these secondhand shops, where they have a lot of crap. And I have the problem, in the back of my head. And I'm just like making these connections with the objects that I see. To come up with something new. So, it's just in the mood. Probably, when I'm lazy, I would just sit behind my computer.
And do the Google Image.
Yes, exactly. So, it's just…
But there are different methodologies.
There was one methodology, I couldn't place and that's putting aside one's ego.
Oh yes, that's very good.
You came up with it.
Well, I face this problem often. It's one of the hardest things. If you create something. It's to be self-critical. And that's super-hard. Because, actually, you're criticizing something that you created. That's super-hard. So, I have that also with students. When they made something, or they have an idea for an innovation or anything they have to do. They come to me and they're very happy. Like: I have this brilliant idea. And then, I already see it's not that good, actually. But I don't say that. I just ask them the question: okay, imagine you did not come up with the idea. But your neighbour came up with the idea. Try to imagine that and then look at the idea again. What do you think about the idea then? And then, they're just starting to think. And they're like: oh, maybe it's not that good.
So, it's very hard to be critical to yourself. Definitely if you've been working on that for weeks. Or you spent money on it. But I think, actually, the best creative people...
If you're a musician or an artist or even if you're like a business person...
Is that a difference? Between a good one and a bad one?
I think a good one is actually very happy. And goes to sleep and wakes up the next morning and thinks like: terrible. And then you just like throw it away. Just start over. And actually recognize this thing.
But a lot of people can't do that.
No, it's super-hard. And I just try to convince them for days. I'm finding many ways to...
Because you had that feeling of: this is what's so good at this moment. And you just keep on trying to convince yourself that it is good. But it isn't. Which is fine. Just start over and continue. Because it's part of the process. But that's super-hard. I really had to learn that. And it took me years, I think. But now, I always have this small voice in the back of my head. When I'm producing something, like: okay, I'm very happy with it. But there's still an option that I will wake up tomorrow morning and I think it's totally, kind of like, shit. And I think that's very important. That you have that.
It's interesting for us, as event planners, to look at an artist, like you. And to learn about those creative processes.
Maarten, thank you very much for coming over.
Yes, thank you.
And you at home, thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next week.