Software Creation Mystery -

Weekly Digest: Secrets of Creativity, Material Software Companies, Discouraging Incentives

Secrets of Creativity
Why some people are more creative than others? The Scientific American article provides some insights:

  • Intelligence is not a crucial ingredient. A crucial variable is the difference between “convergent” and “divergent” thinking.
  • Convergent thinking aims for a single, logical and correct solution to a problem. Divergent thinking proceeds from different starting points and changes direction as required
  • Creative people can free themselves from conventional thought patterns and follow new pathways to unusual or distantly associated answers, which leads to multiple solutions, all of which could be correct and appropriate.
  • These two processes took place in different brain regions – left hemisphere is responsible for convergent thinking and the right hemisphere for divergent thinking.
    • The left side examines details and processes them logically and analytically but lacks a sense of overriding, abstract connections.
    • The right side is more imaginative and intuitive and tends to work holistically, integrating pieces of an informational puzzle into a whole.
  • Our creative talent is gradually repressed from childhood. Schools place emphasis on teaching children to solve problems correctly, not creatively.
  • The brain is a creature of habit; using well-established neural pathways is more economical than elaborating new or unusual ones, which wither with time if not used.
  • Creative people are generally very knowledgeable about a given discipline, it is very improbable to come up with a grand idea without deep involvement in this area.
  • Creative solutions result from examining challenge from all sides, disassembling and reassembling the building blocks in an infinite number of ways. The problem solver must thoroughly understand the blocks.
  • Too much specialized knowledge can stand in the way of creative thinking. Experts often often internalize “accepted” thought processes, so that they become automatic. Intellectual flexibility is lost.
  • Creative revelations come to most people when their minds are involved in an unrelated activity. A little relaxation and distance changes the mind’s perspective on the problem – without us being aware of it. The brain clear away thought barriers by itself and at some point, newly combined associations break into consciousness, and we experience sudden, intuitive enlightenment.
  • The neural processes that take place during creativity remain hidden from consciousness and we cannot actively influence or accelerate them.


  1. Creativity plays a very important role in the software creation. IQ is not enough for developing the best programs as it will lead for technically complex, standard and expensive solutions. Solving changing business need with limited resources, dealing with inconsistent people and complex systems requires unorthodox solutions.
  2. Companies should start hiring people based on “Creativity Quotient” in addition to IQ and EQ. The article has interesting examples of the potential interview tests.
  3. We should specifically train our creativity and always try to look for solutions in novel ways, considering unusual alternatives, combinations and associations; breaking traditional approaches. We should strive to come with more than one solution.
  4. Creativity needs knowledge, serious preparation and understanding what challenges to solve. The brain will not work on the problem until it has enough food for thoughts :). And brain can work out solutions without our conscious involvement, automatically. We just need to learn how to prepare our brains properly.

Material Software Companies,,2112850,00.html
Software companies are coming to earth and turning from nonmaterial to very physical companies. Nicholas Carr explains why.

  • Google has data centres around the globe, reportedly holding as many as 2m or 3m computers altogether, and it continues to spend billions of dollars a year to put up new ones. Its arch-rival, Microsoft, is building a 140,000 sq m six-building data centre on a former bean field. Also rushing to build or lease data centres are Yahoo!,, Intuit, and Deutsche Telekom’s T-Systems unit, among many others.
  • Nature of the software business is changing. In the past, software companies only had to concern themselves with writing code, copying their programs on to discs and selling them. It was up to the buyers of the software to maintain the computers, storage drives and all the other hardware needed to run the programs. Now companies are beginning to rent programs over the net for a monthly fee. Even sophisticated applications for maintaining customer accounts, tracking finances, managing workers and performing other complicated tasks are now being offered as web services. The burden of running software is shifting from the buyer to the seller.

Therefore software companies are finding that they have to compete not just on the elegance of their programs, but on their ingenuity and efficiency in buying and deploying physical assets – land, buildings, computers, and other gear – as well as managing the huge amounts of energy required to keep all the machines running.

Comment: I feel we will miss this nonmaterial world, where we should care only about own computer, a table and a chair to write programs 🙂 . But I still believe that the essential and core business of the software companies will be programming, not management of all these physical assets. What do you think?

Discouraging Incentives
Do you think more incentives are better? Not always argues Barry Schwartz.

Economists assumption: the more motives the better. Give people two reasons to do something and they will be more likely to do it. Unfortunately this assumption is false. There are circumstances in which adding an incentive competes with other motives and diminishes their impact.
When you pay people for doing things they like, they come to like these activities less and will no longer participate in them without a financial incentive. The intrinsic satisfaction of the activities gets “crowded out” by the extrinsic payoff.

Comment: Money is the most powerful motivator. However we should carefully offer additional incentives for something that people like doing. It could leave a bitter taste and kill passion, motivation and dedication even if they continue doing this. But not giving money when people expect them could be even worse. So, probably, it is a good idea to discuss / understand person’s internal motives and expectations before finding a way to encourage desirable behavior. Maybe just public and unreserved admiration will be the best reward. We, humans, are so complicated 🙂

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Software Creation Mystery -
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