Dr. Sawyer’s Path to Creativity

Thursday, February 9, 2017 | Kylie Marshall


The Kenan Scholars learn how to expand their creativity from Dr. Keith Sawyer.

This guest blog post is written By Ariel Natt.

Recently,  UNC School of Education’s Dr. Keith Sawyer came to the Kenan Institute to meet with members of the Kenan Scholars program. Sawyer authored the book The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity and was the first of many guest lecturers to present at weekly lunch meetings with both the undergraduate and M.B.A. Kenan Scholars.

Dr. Sawyer, who is a scientific expert in the study of creativity, talked to the scholars about ways to expand their creativity. His lesson was part-lecture and part-activity. He encouraged the group to think about situations differently then find new ways to solve these problems.

Dr. Sawyer presents on the research presented in his recent book, 'The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity.'

Dr. Sawyer presents on research in his recent book, ‘The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity.’

“Creativity is not linear,” said Sawyer. While it is indeed a process, he said, it is a process that takes lots of twists and turns on the way to success. Listing particular instances where creativity had hit road blocks, Sawyer cited Toy Story, and the issues the producers hit, ranging from casting Buzz Lightyear to shaping Barbie’s image with Mattel.

The issues the Toy Story producers hit are similar to issues people encounter every day. Sawyer reminded the group that creativity is not about what happens at the end of the process. Creativity is about the process itself.

According to Sawyer, creativity is constant and is something that that happens to every person, every day. Whether they ask the wrong questions and must revise their strategies, or simply must relate different ideas within their minds, people must constantly be creative.

Before leaving, Dr. Sawyer charged the scholars with a simple task: to build on their creativity every day. Try something new, associate new words or products or ask themselves different questions. Because according to Sawyer, creativity does not strike overnight, nor is it an attribute that comes and goes as it pleases. Rather, creativity is built up throughout time.