Summary of The Creative Mindset

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The Creative Mindset book summary

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Today’s organizations understand that survival hinges on driving innovation. In this engaging text, master innovators Jeff and Staney DeGraff extoll the importance of unleashing individuals’ creative capacities. Drawing on extensive research into creative thinking and real-world studies, the pair introduce six key creative-thinking skills – encompassed in the acronym CREATE – worth mastering: Clarify, Replicate, Elaborate, Associate, Translate and Evaluate. By nurturing the right mind-set and skills, anyone can learn to boost their creativity and their personal or their company’s innovation.

About the Authors

Jeff DeGraff is a professor of management and organizations at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. Staney DeGraff is CEO of the Innovatrium. 


Small creative breakthroughs can yield outsized outcomes.

Many people believe that only a select portion of the population can be creative. In truth, most acts of creativity come from everyday people, who, in the course of their daily lives, make small changes to the things they encounter that produce outsized outcomes. Consider Starbucks: After then-marketing director Howard Schultz visited Italy – encountering Italian-style coffee and cafes – the company leapt from a coffee bean distributor to a wildly successful coffee roasting, espresso-making cafe chain.

When people apply creativity to the things around them, innovation occurs. Learning to spot opportunities to change things – to “creativize” – defines the “Creative Mindset.” The mind-set results from mastering six concrete skills:

  1. Clarify  The ability to identify a problem or challenge worth tackling.
  2. Replicate  The ability to place existing things in a new context.
  3. Elaborate  The ability to link seemingly...

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