Book Review: inGenius by Tina Seelig
Tina Seelig’s 2015 book inGenuis: A Crash Course on Creativity is just that. A Stanford professor who has been teaching creativity and innovation for over a decade, Seelig persuasively argues that we can find opportunities for innovation everywhere when we are open and curious about the world and people around us. Like other researchers and psychologies, she notes that as we lose our sense of play as adults, we miss out on powerful opportunities to be creative, often because we fear failure – but according to Seelig, the only real failure is inaction.
Seelig condenses her wealth of knowledge into a model she calls the Innovation Engine. The engine consists of three internal elements – one’s knowledge, imagination, and attitude – as well as three external elements – resources, habitats, and culture. Then she walks the reader through her crash courses, offering advice on drawing on a wide variety of experiences and materials for new insights; strategies for better ideation, brainstorming, and observation; the role of spaces in creativity; and collaboration and small perspectives shifts as drivers of innovation.
In the introduction, Seelig shares an assignment she uses on the first day of her creativity and innovation course at the d.school: she asks students to consider the humble name tag and design a better one using the stages of design thinking, especially prototyping. I have used this activity in settings with students and with faculty with really fun results. It teaches the group quickly to question the usefulness of the unquestioned and to allow imagination to drive product rather than being “right” or “good.”
This is a fun, short volume with lots of examples and strategies to up your creativity quotient.