The Speed of Creativity


How do we measure the speed of creative thought? Is it even possible to measure creativity let alone how fast creativity happens?

I started my career as an artist. I spent years learning how to draw and paint. Often when I would display my work people would ask me, “How long did it take you to paint that picture?” They wanted to know the work involved in the process of creating the work of art. They wanted a measure of the time to create. Sometimes I would do commissioned artwork. The people who hired me always wanted to know how long it was going to take me to create the work of art. They wanted me to estimate the speed of my creativity. Sometimes I had no idea what to say to them.

I could estimate some of the work in creating a work of art, but I had a hard time with estimating the most crucial part. I could easily estimate how long I might take to create a painting based on the number of people in the picture and the size of the work, but I really couldn’t tell them how long it was going to take me to come up with the idea for the painting. The more creative the picture needed to be the more difficult it was to estimate the time it would take me to paint it.

We see a lot of creative thought in our escape rooms. Some teams seem to be creative machines, firing solution after solution is a barrage of ideas. Other teams take much longer to get the creative juices flowing. Creativity sometime seems to come in short bursts for some teams, while other teams struggle over the process in a painfully slow ordeal. So, what really does it take for a team to be able to creatively solve problems and can we measure the speed of those creative leaps?

After observing thousands of groups, there are two thing that seem to be critical to creative thought, a trigger and a response. A trigger can be anything in an experience that causes someone to think of a problem in a different way. The response is an active connection between the new information and the problem. The trigger must come first, and the response follows. If one or the other is slow or missing, it slows or stops the creative process.

Our observations have shown that teams with a high level of creativity tend to be those that look for and enjoy triggers. They seem to search for them and share them with ease. If there was such a thing as a creative muscle, these teams seem to enjoy exercising it. They like looking at a problem from different perspectives and then applying the new ideas created from the new perspective to the problem.

The speed of creativity seems to be directly related to the speed of which a team opens themselves to new ideas and new thinking. It requires a willingness to explore new thoughts and respond with possible solutions to the problems they are facing.


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