To make it very clear from the very beginning, I will start with the morale of the story: research does not have to be creative. Ignore all the talks and complaints about research not being creative (enough), the mantra of research is not The Great Creative Solution.
"We try to learn about X thing for the past two years, but we are not getting anything new any more. You find some creative solution to research that". Familiar, huh? What is meant by "creative solution" in such cases? A twist in a question asked from the end to the beginning rather than from the beginning to the end, maybe some projective techniques, maybe some new projective techniques, invented especially for the situation in question, the more spectacular the better.
Lately, agencies are raising the stake on "creativity" by proposing new methods that make use of all the technological instruments, from online research to Smart Phones. Sometimes with very good reasons, but sometimes just for the sake of listing them. Or for the sake of creativity? Or for the sake of the budget (although, what a sad situation when a "spectacular study" costs 3 times more and delivers 3 times less)?.
But how many times have you seen in a research proposal methodologies that are based on the latest trends in socio-economical thinking? How many times have you talked to a researcher about BE - behavioral economics (Nobel prize for economy awarded to a psychologist in 2002) or about social learning theories (an older theme, but very present and relevant in the current discourse) and about how these apply to concrete research issues? Or about how these change the way we ask questions (e.g. BE practically cancels the question "why?" which used to be the mantra of qualitative research) or the way we look at the social influence in focus groups (why not try to maximize it and learn from it, instead of limit it)? How many times have you chosen to have a cultural analysis on the theme rather than a web ethnography and 6 focus groups?
Yes, research needs to give up its "cliches", but not by acquiring different ones, even more dangerous I say: "creativity for the sake of being creative". It is not "creativity for the sake of creativity" what we need, but at most "creativity for the sake of science". More time to plan and execute approaches that are based on serious and relevant hypotheses, more professionals in contact with the science and interested in it, professionals who can influence the expectations in what research is concerned.
But this will not happen in Romania, at least not as long as the public discourse on research does not belong to researchers (whose individual voices are not heard - how many research blogs or articles are you aware of, and on an official voice the talk is useless) but mainly to advertising professionals, who have a different agenda and different demands on creativity.
Have been at Crea. It is a conference I kept hearing about and bumping into in the last half of year alongside my inquiries about creativity, innovation, divergent thinking etc... It paid off, both at a personal and at a professional level. Qual research conferences I had been at before are usually "not your typical corporate conferences", yet, being in a conference that is about much more than just business was very rewarding. So, what did I do at Crea?
I put some order in my disorderly knowledge about creativity and creative processes. I got the chance to practice what I used to only preach (in terms of creative behaviors). I spent more time barefoot than with my shoes on. I met a bunch of really inspirational, free spirited, generous people. I got in touch with myself by moving, drawing, dancing, walking the labyrinth, "buttoning and unbuttoning with people ;)", laughing... I played. I had fun. I cried when it was over.
One heuristic principle states that laughter might
be a physiological reaction to novel connections made by assembling
neurons in the brain in unexpected ways. I always advise people, in any kind of research or ideation related environments to give special attention to ideas that make them laugh, as there may be more there than "silly".
I saw last night Avatar at IMAX. First 5 minutes: everybody around me (and me included) was seriously (and incontrolablly) giggling as they were accomodating to the new type of viewing experience. Q.E.D.
PS: as i told this story to two people this morning, they laughed. This is how it got turned into a post :)