Improving Creativity with the 7Es LO26989

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 07/12/01

Replying to LO26932 --

Dear Organlearners,

Greetings to all of you.

I have linked this contribution to the recent one: 7Es -- The Seven
Essentialities of Creativity. LO26932 so as to give an indication how they
can be used.

To summarise -- The 7Es (seven essentialities of creativity) are:
liveness ("becoming-being")
sureness ("identity-categoricity")
wholeness ("monadicity-associativity")
fruitfulness ("connect-emergence")
spareness ("quantity-limit")
otherness ("quality-variety")
openness ("open-paradigm")
The first name of each is its nominal name. It is used to refer to that
essentiality. The second double barrel name in brackets is its seminal
name. It is used to suggest what that essentiality is about.
I have not discovered even one of the 7Es. Each of them became known (and
given many different names) by many people through many centuries. I only
discovered them all together in one curious investigation. I searched for
corresponding patterns between a material system and a mental system, both
to be very well known through the creative efforts of millions of
thinkers. I selected the chemical system (material) and the mathematical
system (mental) as the two best candidates.

Now for the creativity --

Before WWII (Word War II) creativity as such was little studied. The
general attitude then was that creativity was an ability of which some
people had more of it than others. They usually became artists. But WWII
changed this attitude drastically because the war was fought with
increased creativity on all walks of life like science, economics and
politics. Creativity became one of the central disciplines of psychology
and much research on it ensued.

The by far most common definition of creativity is the ability to make a
novel connection between two seemingly unrelated things. When viewed from
the 7Es, this definition is nothing else than using fruitfulness to
formulate creativity. Likewise each of the other six 7Es may be used to
"define" creativity. For example, by using otherness creativity may be
defined as the ability to incorporate increasing diversity in whatever we
do. Or using openness, creativity is the ability to overcome our rigid
mental models by recognising new paradigms to work from.

I (and perhaps you too) use my creativity in each of my mental activities
like learning, believing and loving. It is as if all my mental activities
are sustained by my creativity as their foundation. Consequently, just as
these 7Es improve my creativity, they also improve all these mental

For example, consider my believing. Liveness is manifested in the act of a
specific deed ("becoming") to reflect an article of faith ("being").
Sureness means that I have to explore how faith operates in every facet of
my life. Wholeness enable me to associate scientific information with the
revelations of faith in the Bible with my experiences as the interpreter
("umlomo"). Fruitfulness helps me to search for effective connections
between faith and (say) economics. Spareness warns me that there is a
limit to my faith which I will reach. Otherness beckons me to acknowledge
that other people may have different faiths. Openness is to admit that
people may even not believe in God.

Each of the 7Es may be used as unique viewpoint to explore human
creativity. For example, the essentiality liveness enables me to recognise
what I call an "Elementary Organiser" (EO). An EO is a "verb-noun" pair
leading to a vast cultural domain. For example, "painting-picture" and
"composing-music" lead to rich collections of fine arts. Likewise
"leading-people" leads to vast arrays of organisations in politics and
economics. The most important elementary organiser for me personally is
"teaching-learners". In this teaching I try to help them how to learn

I use "Elementary Sustainers of Creativity" (ESCs) extensively in my
teaching. An ESC is an EO which "at least" all humans may make use of
irrespective of age, sex, character, culture, race, religion, etc. The "at
least" means that I also require this EO as ESC to be clearly manifested
among some higher organisms such as animals. In other words, we need not
know much theoretically of an ESC to use it. An ESC is rather a powerful
tool in practice.

Up to now I have identified 5 ESCs. They are
thoughts-exchanging (dialogue)

Let us now trace how the 7Es help us to improve our creativity in one of
these ESCs, say problem-solving. The first step is to become aware of the
problem. Most people use liveness at this step. They perceive an
uncompleted state (present "being") which by solving ("becoming") will
result into a completed state (future "becoming"). However, by not also
using each of the other six 7Es at this step, they remain unaware of many
other kinds of problems. For example, by using fruitfulness they might
become aware of the problem of making effective connection. A typical
example is Jesus' parable of the Samaritan. By using otherness they might
become aware of the lack of patterns such as rules or laws.

The second step is to explore the problem further with an essentiality
other than the one used to become aware of the problem. Usually sureness
is employed by exploring the context of the problem to identify what is
already known and what ought to become known. In this case the second step
is often called the identification of the problem. However, essentialities
other than sureness may also be used in this second step. When spareness
is used, all possible data are collected by measuring and sampling
techniques. Then this second step is called the delineation of the

The third step is to explore the problem even further with a third
essentiality other than the two already used. Often this third step will
already provide a solution to the problem. For example, typical to the
hard-core sciences, when sureness had been used to identify the known and
otherness to select the pattern to which the known corresponds, liveness
is used to obtain the unknown as solution by means of a procedure inherent
to the pattern.

The fourth step is most important when the solution seems to have been
obtained by the third step. The "solved problem" actually becomes a new
problem by using a fourth essentiality to explore it even further. It is
here where the essentialities wholeness and openness, should they not have
been used earlier, become most valuable. For example, using wholeness, new
unknowns can be associated with what was known as well as what has become
known through the solution. Openness can be used to search for hidden
assumptions (like archetypes, mental models and paradigms) and then
altering them to explore new possibilities.

The fifth step is to deliberately use one of the remaining three
essentialities to explore additional new solutions. By now the
problem-solving should have become an endless task following a fractal
path. Solution upon solution is staggered like Goethe envisaged it with
his concept of "Steigerung". Nevertheless, the fifth step is often still
restricted to a particular discipline or subject.

The sixth and seventh steps are to use the last two remaining
essentialities to explore the problem solving even further. The problem
usually begin to spill over in other disciplines and even subjects. It is
then when the need for transdisciplinary thinking becomes greatest.
However, in an era of disciplinary and reductionistic thinking, it is also
in these last two steps when problem solving becomes most difficult. The
solutions will begin to involve people with deficiencies in their
creativity. They will experience these solutions rather as problems
themselves. Thus the problem solving begins to transform from its
individualistic facet to its collectivistic facet.

I will never prescribe a particular sequence in which these 7Es have to be
used in problem solving. Such a recipe will leave many problems untouched.
I also want to warn against the danger of what may be called artificial
problem solving. This happens when a subset of the 7Es is persistently
used to solve problems while the remaining 7Es are persistently avoided.

By discussing how the 7Es are used to increase our creativity in problem
solving, I have done something to "problem-solving" as an ESC (Elementary
Sustainer of Creativity). This discussion displaced its elementary
character with complexity so that it is not an ESC anymore. Hence the
dynamics of creativity which involves concepts like "entropy production",
"free energy", "ordinate bifurcations" and "digestors" become necessary to
keep on sustaining the creativity. A complexity in form by means of the
7Es has to be harmonised by a complexity in content, otherwise the
creativity will grind to a standstill.

What has been done to "problem-solving"as an ESC, can be done to any of
the other ESCs too. Sometimes I wonder if it is a good thing. For example,
when I apply the 7Es to "game-playing", I often can spot early in any game
which side is going to lose because of a serious deficiency in one of the
7Es. Perhaps I should become a gambler with this foresight ;-) A fine
excercise in "exemplar-exploring" for you would be to take your favourate
word processor and determine how its toolbar enable you in each of the
7Es. Perhaps after such an exploring you would not favour that processor
any more ;-)

However, it is the innocence and tacit potential of the ESCs which draws
me most as a teacher. I want to guide a learner using them in practice by
making a suggestion here and there when I observe that one of the 7Es is
impaired. I do not want to give the learner in advance a theoretical
exposition of how the 7Es may be used. Why?

Perhaps the most dangerous problem in improving creativity with the 7Es is
to rush such improvement. Substituting the experience and tacit knowledge
gained by practice with theoretical information is a typical manner to
rush an improvement in creativity. For example, when any of you fellow
learners feel that what I have written about the 7Es in problem solving
hangs in the air, touching nothing rather than having articulated your own
tacit knowledge, then it is sure sign that I have rushed your improvement
far too much.

What I have done in this contribution to prevent it from becoming too
long, is to skip steps in your development. The LRC entails that it cannot
be done, but that step by step has to be taken. (The LRC or Law of
Requisite Complexity is one of the manifestations of the 7Es together.) So
why did I wrote this contribution at all? To give you some indication that
the 7Es are vital to your creativity. I hope that with this poor
indication I have articulated your gut feeling that there is more to
creativity than buying into expensive recipes to improve it.

Another serious danger is to think of the each of the 7Es as ready made
and fixed. It may easily happen when I say "Each of us has to grow in
understanding each of the 7Es." So I would rather say "Each of the 7Es has
to increase endlessly in each of us." By this I mean that increasing the
7Es within each of us, even in the understanding of them, is realistic. It
is unrealistic to expect an internal growth in the 7Es using external
sources of information on them. They can at most merely help us to
recognise our own experential and tacit knowledge.

It may very much appear that I am selling the 7Es with this contribution.
The 7Es are also expensive in intellectual resources. But I am not selling
them. What I rather would sell is the simple tenet "To learn is to
create". The back-action of that creative learning is to improve
creativity. Unfortunately, this tenet is too simple to sell because people
have become weary of simple slogans.

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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