In the week 6 tutorial, we explored Csikszentmihalyi’s ideas on the flow of creativity and Edward de Bono’s theory of the six thinking hats.

It is interesting to find that the reading starts off by describing the lives of creative people as being basically anything but money-driven, eluding to their careers as containing a certain level of enjoyment rather than just a means of producing money. The quote “… it is not what these people do that counts but how they do it” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996) describes how creativity is not only the exterior stereoptype of jobs such as interior designers and world class fashionistas but rather how an individual plays out a particular task, this can be exemplified in the way in which one worker quit her job.

Csikszentmihalyi outlines the way in which creativy flows in 9 aspects:

1. Clear Goals – Knowledge of what needs to be done

2. Immediate Feedback – One is aware whether or not their actions are correct as soon as they have acted, eg an architect knows immediately if they have drawn a line wrong

3. Challenge and Skill Balance – An excess of skill in comparison to challenge leads to boredom and repetition, while the opposite (Challenge > Skill) leads to frustration, therefore a balance is required

4. Action and Awareness Merged – What it looks like you are doing must reflect your thoughts

5. Exclusion of Distractions – Disregarding the minds natural tendancy to sway away from the task at hand; this may occur when our skill outweighs the challange eg washing the dishes while thinking about the bills

6. No fear of failure – Worry is a chain that holds our mind from its true creative potential, focusing on the final rather than thinking of how to get there

7. Self-consciousness Disappears – Concern about how we appear to others constricts our freedom to think, in hopes that we appear acceptable to society

8. Distorted Time Perception – Uncontrolled by the means of time

9. Activity becomes Autoletic – Learning may be difficult at first but may become a hobby in the long run

I agreed with most of the 9 aspects, such as clear goals where I believe it is important in the creative mind. Once an individual is flooded with tasks and unsure about what their main goal is, it can interfere with their creativity, limiting the possible thinking capabilities, if we take for example a simple university assignment such as representing a given corporate logo in a 3D form, we may easily stray from the main clear goal by focusing on the marks or getting the correct material. It is easy to see how there is an interplay between the 9 aspects of flow, as we stray from a main goal and become concerned with failure in the eyes of another, we become distracted by the thought of time and we start to feel as if it is no longer an exercise of creativity but rather a challenge that outweighs our skill capabilities: this being exemplified in the aforementioned university project.

In class we were given the task of redesigning the campus in a way that made it more appealing (unrestricted by a specific audience) using a given method of creative thinking. My group was given the brainwriting method in which we all had one piece of paper; and we wrote ideas on it for three minutes with no communication, then made a rotation to write ideas on another’s paper, and this continued for about 15 minutes until we finally checked and discussed our results with the group. I found this activity quite fun and it seemed as though the no communication system worked because it freed us from fear of failure in anothers eyes, we did not have to think about what the others would say about it, we just wrote it down.

Ideas from Brainwriting

As we began to pass our ideas around, creativity seemed to flow and we seemed to write ideas regardless of their possibility nor considering their cost to the university, the feeling of thought freedom really seemed to enhance the flow of ideas. Although it may seem pointless to write ideas that are impossible or illogical, when read by another, they tend to flow into a possible idea, as exmplified in the above picture where the highly illogical idea of a giant graffitti wall linked into the idea of more art.


Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). The Flow of Creativity. Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention (pp. 107-126). New York: HarperCollins.

Leo [Chive User Name]. (2010, August 10). Girl quits her job on dry erase board, emails entire office [Web log post]. Retrieved from