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Everything that surrounds us is the result of a creative process. This process is very complex and unique, creatives have their own way of working and thinking. That is why creativity is not so easily defined because it is so many things at the same time, it’s not a single characteristic, it’s the interaction of many traits and habits that are individual in each person.
This thesis project dealt with the complex sets of interactions in creative minds. Everybody is in some way creative, but many people need to be made aware of their capabilities.
An example of that statement is that Designers have a different workflow than engineers it’s sometimes difficult to get along while developing a new product together. This project supports communication and understanding to simplify the workflow in an interdisciplinary team. As a result of the research and surveys, a tool to better understand other professional fields in a playful way and thus benefit the development process and workflow was created. The understanding and communication can be strengthened, and new skills are learned to enrich the workflow.
Everything we can see is the result of a creative process. The clothes we wear, the book we read, and the chair we sit on. Creativity is everywhere in our daily lives.(Berzbach, 2016, pp. 14–15) People are entirely unique, and for one person a hot shower is good, for another a cold shower, for one it’s good in the morning, for another in the evening, for one person it’s better to sit in a café where it’s noisy, and for another, it’s better to sit alone in a quiet office and create. Creativity is many things, even if most people associate it with design, art, or music. For me, creativity is the ability to improvise and create things just out of your thoughts and your mind. It can be to generate ideas for a product, cook a meal with leftovers, or try a new road home to explore the surroundings, the environment, the area. However, creativity is not so easy to define because it is so many things at the same time. It is not a single character trait, but a system of different characteristics working together in many ways. (Scott Barry Kaufman & Gregoire, 2016) Creativity is shaped by a whole range of intellectual, emotional, motivational, and moral characteristics. (Gregoire, 2016)
This thesis deals with the creative process and its traits. Based on different approaches, it can already be said that there will be no clear answer to the question of what creativity is. During this thesis, I will describe and evaluate different approaches to this question. It is important to say that creativity can be learned because it’s no a single characteristic, it’s the interaction of many traits and habits that are individual to each person. In addition to that, another part of the thesis will address the creative process in the brain. What’s happening when you are creative, how is your brain working? Even the brain process when you’re creative is very complex. When one is creative, their brain works differently, there are so many connections between the left and right sides of the brain, that are constantly hopping from one side to the other, always back and forth. Furthermore, I’ll take an overview of the importance of emotional intelligence for the creative process.
My research is based on the following question: How can people achieve a better connection to their creativity in order to utilize it in their workflow? For me, as a designer, it’s normal to work creatively, but many people don’t use their potential or didn’t know how to use it. The aim is to create a new solution to bring people closer to their creativity and their definition of it. The topic is important nowadays because there are still people who smile at creatives, but to reach an equal communication level would be a gigantic improvement in people’s work-life. In the past 20 years, the world of work has changed. The reason is the increasing digitalization. These changes open up new concepts of work, leadership models and the spectrum between control and trust. Work is becoming increasingly independent of usual working hours and location. The option of working from home, the so-called home office, or flexible workplaces and work models is constantly in demand. Furthermore, the factor of interdisciplinary teams is becoming more and more essential in product development. (Schircks et al., 2017, pp. 10–13)
Literature research was done, therefore different kinds of literature were used. Secondary sources and tertiary sources, in the form of books, encyclopedias, collective works, and magazine or blog articles, were mainly employed to obtain a state of knowledge about the subject. To gain insights, a survey as a scientific method was used, in which 74 people participated. It was conducted to prove the hypothesis.
Through the research results, a problem has emerged more and more clearly. The communication and workflow in interdisciplinary teams needs to be improved to benefit the workflow in a team. During the research, it has been shown, that people had different definitions and perceptions of creativity.
The research about creativity, the creative process and intelligence as well as emotional intelligence and how people work has shown, that the hypothesis is true. It’s not possible to find a clear and universal definition of creativity. Everything that surrounds us is the result of a creative process. This process is very complex and unique, creatives have their own way of working and thinking. That is why creativity is not so easily defined because it is so many things at the same time, it’s not a single characteristic, it’s the interaction of many traits and habits that are individual in each person. It can be said that there exist certain words that describe the word and belong to it like daydreaming, passion, being curious and playful as well as accepting failure but these traits and many more are just part of it. Everyone is somehow creative and Ken Robinson as well as Picasso said in their words, that people are grown/educated out of creativity. Another important fact is that creativity can be trained and learned, but many people need to be made aware of their creative capabilities. There are existing many different creative techniques, in which everyone should find their own way of thinking and working creatively.
Creativity also means being open to new ways of thinking and perspectives. Therefore, it is important to listen and understand and ask a lot of questions. That’s why it is so important in our daily work life to use creativity as an important skill and try to arise it. Moreover, people should try to think from another perspective from time to time to get new insights and new ways of working. Therefore interdisciplinary teams and talking and working together is helpful, trying to understand their way of working and implement things in their own way. That can open completely new perspectives and ways of working. An example is a workflow between designers and engineers, it is completely different but they often work together, in this combination is so much potential to implement different styles of thinking and try to understand the other's perspective.
All the research led to the following concept for a design solution to support communication and understanding in interdisciplinary teams and simplify their workflow. A playful tool for a better understanding in other professional areas should be created. The understanding and communication can be strengthened and new skills are learned to enrich the work process. A learning platform to bring different ways of knowledge and thinking together. It could be an extension of a work management and organization tool or a learning App. It’s a tool to get an overview of different areas and create an individual learning path. For interdisciplinary teams, people get to know the others‘ way of working and gain essential knowledge. It also helps to create more mutual acceptance and recognition for the other parties besides clearing up misunderstandings.
To test the main idea of the concept, a small workshop was created. The goal was to prove that the method of learning a new perspective can help to improve workflow and communication. Therefore a small group of people from different disciplines was asked to participate. There was a business engineer, an electronic technician, a psychology student, and a marketing student.
The workshop was structured into small parts, the first one was a small task without any input after a small general introduction. It was an imaginative question. If you must develop a new coffee machine with your team, what would it be like? The answers to that question showed the different approaches to a task. After sharing, people were surprised at how different the ideas have been. One person made a coffee machine that produces only espresso and black coffee to reduce it and get the best coffee possible. The electronic technician answered that question by asking more questions and defining the target group, very logically and chronologically. Step by step, he wrote down new questions, then define the requirements.
Afterward, the concept of the thesis was explained, and the participants got a crash course in design and design thinking, very briefly but to better understand the designer’s perspective. This scenario was tested instead of a long period testing the prototype because of time issues in the workshop as a small interactive presentation and exercises, to see if the core idea would work.
After that crash course in design, they got a similar task to the first one, if you must develop a new lamp, how would you proceed?
The result of this exercise was a new approach to the task, the participants used the methods they’ve learned as well as their repertoire of knowledge and the results were entirely unique and far more detailed in the same amount of time. For both questions, the participants had 15 minutes to develop a concept, idea, or whatever they wanted to answer the question, there were no limitations. While the ideas were presented, new approaches were added by the other participants and the concepts were further developed together. This discussion started on its own and showed that the participants had adopted some approaches from design and paid more attention to certain things like aesthetics and haptics than before.
Later, the App Prototype was given to the participants to test and click through, with them knowing the concept and providing feedback afterward.
In the end, the participants had to fill out a small feedback form. All the learnings from the first workshop were used to improve the Prototype of the App. It could be said that there was consistently positive feedback on the concept and the workshop. The points of criticism mentioned, such as font size or additional functions, will be considered in the future and will be implemented. In this small mixed group, the basic idea worked in the given framework and thus confirmed the concept.
This workshop is not representative, as it was a small group and tested in one day. Nevertheless, the insights gained from this workshop will help to further develop and improve the product.
The final result is a clickable app prototype. This prototype shows how the app will look and function when developed. It is kept clean and simple to not give too much input and to be able to focus on the learning process.
In summary, a working prototype was created that explains the concept in a supportive way. After the workshop and the data collected from it, the first prototype was adapted and revised. This was then sent again to 10 subjects for testing with an explanation of the concept to gather feedback. Due to time constraints, the preliminary click prototype is presented in this paper. The feedback response forms are in the appendix, for a more detailed overview. In the future, more features will be added, and the feedback gathered would be incorporated into the design process.
For future development of the project, a few more revision rounds and maybe one more workshop would be helpful to improve the product. As well as a testing phase in a certain period around 2–3 months. This testing period could measure the improvement in the internal communication and learning process and bring first data if it may create a new habit. After testing and Feedback loops, the result could be used to refine the product, eliminate errors and improve usage. Afterward, to finally bring the App to life with developers and don’t have a Prototype anymore but a real working App.
Another fact is, that the concept is universal and could be implemented in other scenarios and expanded. The main idea is to bring Person A and Person B together in their working process and to simplify their communication. In the thesis, the main example has been designers and engineers, but it could also be teachers and students or different departments of a university that do a project together. The example was used to make the concept and idea clearer. I think that concept has a lot of potential in many ways, and the result of the thesis is just one way to solve the problem.