IF you are asked what is half of eight, chances are your answer will be “four”. But for some people, including author Marci Segal, the answer could also be “nine minus five” or “zero (by cutting the figure 8 horizontally)”.
That’s an example of “creative thinking” or “thinking out of the box”, said Segal, a creativity expert and president of CreativityLand Inc, a Toronto-based firm that helps organisations around the world to instil innovative practices daily at work.
“Creative thinking is using one’s imagination to find alternative ways to meet solutions. It’s about generating many potential solutions and then picking the best out of that,” said Segal, who was in Petaling Jaya recently for an MBTI® qualifying workshop organised by Direct Results, a local training consultancy.
The MBTI® or Myers Briggs Type Indicator, of which Segal is a qualifying instructor, is a tool used to determine personality types in people.
A leader in creativity and innovation for over 20 years, Segal focuses mainly on helping people in companies arrive at new ideas and helping those individuals work together to reap the rewards.
Since 1988, she has been involved in getting the best from the people concerned by matching their creativity with their personal styles. Naturally, she is against the idea that only certain personality types are creative people.
“It annoys me when a person can say someone is not creative. Everybody can be creative. Different people are creative through different things such as cooking, science, art or business,” asserted Segal, 48.
Former president of the Ontario Association for the Application of Personality Type, Segal is also an active member of the Toronto Association for Psychological Type and the Creative Education Foundation, Buffalo, New York.
She is also a senior faculty member at the Creative Problem Solving Institute in Buffalo, New York, and San Diego, California.
In 2000, she received the Distinguished Leader Award for exemplary leadership in the field of creativity by the Creative Education Foundation.
Segal is the author of Creativity and Personality Type: Tools for Understanding and Inspiring the Many Voices of Creativity, published in 2001.
That book, written in one year, was the result of 12 years’ work, said Segal.
Her other published works include a contribution in Quick Guide to the 16 Personality Types in Organizations published last year, and A Quick Guide to the Four Temperaments and Creativity: A psychological understanding of innovation, published recently.
The youngest daughter of a butcher and a bookkeeper, Segal is the first Canadian to have both Bachelor and Masters degrees in Creativity and Innovation from the International Center for Studies in Creativity, Buffalo, New York and was named in the Who’s Who Among Students upon graduation.
When she came back to Toronto in 1984, she had to work as a part-time file clerk in an insurance company because people did not know exactly what she studied, she related.
She later wrote in one of her books that, “In the early 80s creativity was like a four-letter word.”
Eventually, she found work as a qualitative researcher and later in advertising in strategic planning.
The turning point came in 1989, when the local association of psychological type agreed to let her present a workshop exploring creativity using psychological type.
That marked the first of her many lectures and talks that she would be invited to give around the world such as Australia, Italy and US.
One day in May 2001, a headline in a Canadian newspaper caught her attention – “Canada in Creativity Crisis”.
“When I read that, I said, ‘Enough!’ We all have creativity!”
She talked to three friends about it, one of whom told her to “claim the day”. Segal then sent out e-mail to all those on her address book.
That was how she initiated the worldwide annual observation of Creativity and Innovation Day (CID) on April 21 last year.
To date, various groups of people in at least 35 countries observe CID in one way or another, according to Segal.
Some of the events start from April 15, in conjunction with the birthday of Leonardo da Vinci, and run for a week. This period is called “Idea Week”.
The theme for the CID celebration last year was “Admit it. You're Creative!”
It reflected the first step in becoming more creative and innovative, and instilled awareness and recognition of the basic human ability to generate visions, new ideas, new criteria and new solutions.
Over 1000 people throughout the world celebrated the event with meaningful activities to bolster their innovation efforts both professionally and personally.
Segal said that CID gives the purpose to deliberately find new ways of planning and doing things.
“These events can be fun, frivolous or serious in nature.
“One person wore different coloured socks on that day while a family ate dinner backwards, starting with dessert.
“In the Netherlands, civil servants held creativity walks to talk about how to work differently in the civil service,” she said.
Through all this, Segal, who also paints and loves taking photographs, has a simple sounding goal to achieve.
“My personal objective is for people to become aware that they can use creativity to make the world a better place and to make one’s place in the world a better one,” she said.
o For more information on Creativity and Innovation Day, visit www.creativityday.org. To find out more about what’s happening locally, call Direct Results at 03-7880 9418 or Daniel at 017-888 2398.
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