Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 20 Number 4 2004 pp. 167-197

Causal Relationships in Creative Problem Solving: Comparing Facilitation Interventions for Ideation

Santanen, Eric L, Briggs, Robert O, and De Vreede, Gert-Jan

ABSTRACT: Organizations must be creative continuously to survive and thrive in today's highly competitive, rapidly changing environment. A century of creativity research has produced several descriptive models of creativity, and hundreds of prescriptions for interventions that demonstrably improve creativity. This paper presents the cognitive network model (CNM) as a causal model of the cognitive mechanisms that give rise to creative solutions in the human mind. The model may explain why creativity prescriptions work as they do. The model may also provide a basis for deriving new techniques to further enhance creativity. The paper tests the model in an experiment where 61 four-person groups used either free-brainstorming or one of three variations on directed-brainstorming to generate solutions for one of two unstructured tasks. In both tasks, people using directed-brainstorming produced more solutions with high creativity ratings, produced solutions with higher average creativity ratings, and produced higher concentrations of creative solutions than did people using free-brainstorming. Significant differences in creativity were also found among the three variations on directed-brainstorming. The findings were consistent with the CNM.

Key words and phrases: brainstorming, cognitive models, creativity, facilitation, group problem solving, group support systems, idea generation, ideation, thinkLets