It may come as a big surprise to most of us that creativity is not as innate and mysterious as it seems. After all, isn’t thinking outside the box and generating new ideas the way of the future for any organization that wants to have an edge in an already over-saturated market? Isn’t the iPhone the epitome of technological innovation, largely attributed to the creative genius, Steve Jobs? Turns out, even the most successful products and services follow a systematic process that can be mastered by anyone, but it will take some practice to retrain our brain in how we approach creativity.
Inside the Box is a book published a few years ago by our own Professor of Marketing at the Arison School of Business, Jacob Goldenberg and Drew Boyd, who is a global leader in creativity and innovation. Together, they show that creativity is indeed something that can be learned. Looking at innovations which surround us every day, it is possible to discover patterns in the way they solve a problem or meet a need in the environment. Take for example the iPod, which Apple introduced in 2001, quickly becoming the company’s best selling product. Over the next five years the iPod went through some major transformations – mainly, downsizing and simplicity. In 2006 the iPod’s market share peaked at 79%, sales rising from $1.3 billions dollars to $3.4 at the release of their smallest and simplest iPod model so far – the shuffle. That colorful little clip-on device so light and simple, and at $200 dollars cheaper than the original iPod, made it possible for everyone to have music on them at anytime. Its success was unhindered by the fact that the design of the shuffle lacked two critical features of the original iPod: the display screen and the ability to select a specific song to play. Taking away what seemed as the most integral component only expanded the market and increased sales – a method Inside the Box calls subtraction. This rearranging, unifying unrelated functions, subtracting seemingly critical parts, are all the ways Inside the Box debunks the mystery of creativity. The approach presented in this book has become a groundbreaking way creativity is applied in the business world and in the classroom. It is available in seventeen different languages, and Goldenberg hopes to make it a staple in most curriculums world wide. This new approach to creativity is already being taught in various forms at American institutions, and as a stand-alone course at the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business and Columbia University.
Jacob Goldenberg’s more recent work focuses on ideation processes related to product development, suggesting that companies would be more effective in using customer-generated ideas or feedback for products if a particular customer’s ideas are less clustered with other customers’ idea networks, to bolster the innovativeness of a particular person’s idea.