Tina Seelig’s inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity has been my favorite read this summer.  Each chapter emphasizes principles that are key to producing creative outcomes, in addition to memorable examples that illustrate the creative process in vivid detail.  In short, the book offers a great deal of practical information and is written in a style that maintains a perfect tempo from beginning to end.

I was delighted when Tina agreed to elaborate upon some of the themes addressed throughout inGenius.  Those additional thoughts are found below.

“There are many ways to stretch your imagination. Three that I focus on in my book are framing and reframing problems, connecting and combining ideas, and challenging assumptions. Each of these tools allows you to hone your ability to generate fresh ideas. By questioning the problems you ask, you open the landscape of possible solutions. By connecting ideas you come up with new and surprising ideas. And, by challenging assumptions, you push beyond obvious solutions to the problems you face.”

“Fostering a mindset of creativity is critically important in problem solving. If you don’t believe that you can find a problem, then you won’t find one. The more you practice coming up with innovative ideas, the better you get, and the more confident you become. This is like any other skill that must be practiced to master.” 

Focused Attention:
“Learning about art and using your artist skills is a key to creativity. Essentially, you are learning how to look at the world and how to capture it in interesting ways. For example, if you are painting a still life, you must look at the same bowl of fruit for hours in order to capture its essence. The same type of focused attention is used to see interesting problems that need to be solved and solutions that others don’t notice.”

“Whenever we do things that haven’t been done before, there are surprises. In many cases we call them failures. I prefer to call them “data” and to mine them to learn something interesting. This is one of the secrets of truly creative people…. They try lots of things and keep what works, using the failures as fertilizer for the next idea.”

Among the many things that make inGenius distinctive is the six part Innovation Engine model, which Tina describes at length in the final chapter.  She discusses its conception below:

“I spent months creating the Innovation Engine because I wanted to find a way to accurately capture the things that influence creativity and how these factors are interrelated. The Mobius strip graphic was perfect because all the parts are interwoven illustrating that these factors influence one another in surprising ways. Creativity requires paying attention to all six parts of the Innovation Engine, since all components influence each other.”

inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity will be the focus of the next #creativereads Twitter chat on Tuesday, August 21st at 8pm ET.
Join us!


Tina Seelig is the Executive Director for the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, the entrepreneurship center at Stanford School of Engineering, and the Director of the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation. She teaches courses on innovation and entrepreneurship in the department of Management Science and Engineering, and within the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford (d.school).

Dr. Seelig earned her Ph.D. from Stanford University Medical School where she studied Neuroscience. She has been a management consultant, multimedia producer, and the founder of a multimedia company. In addition, Tina has written 16 popular books and educational games. Her newest books, published by HarperCollins, are What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20, and inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity.

© 2012