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About Keith Sawyer

Dr. R. Keith Sawyer is the Morgan Distinguished Professor in Educational Innovations at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He is one of the country’s leading scientific experts on creativity. His 2007 book GROUP GENIUS shows us how to be more creative in collaborative group settings, how to change our organizations for the better, and how to tap into our own reserves of creativity. His 2013 book ZIG ZAG identifies the 8 stages of the creative process, and contains over 100 techniques to enhance your personal creativity.

After receiving his computer science degree from MIT in 1982, Sawyer began his career with a two-year stint designing videogames for Atari. From 1984 to 1990, he worked as a management consultant on innovative technologies; clients included Citicorp, AT&T, and U.S. West. He has been a jazz pianist for over 30 years, and spent several years playing piano with Chicago improv theater groups. His research has been featured on on CNN, Fox News, TIME Magazine, and other media. A popular speaker, he lectures to corporations, associations, and universities around the world on creativity and innovation.


1. Sanjay Dalal - June 15, 2007

Hello Dr. Sawyer:

Congratulations on starting such an important blog on Creativity and Innovation. We both share the same passion on the impact of creativity and innovation all around us.

Thank you for posting a link to my blog on your blog as well.

As a way of introducing your blog and some of the work you do to my readers, I was thinking that we can perhaps co-author an article that will be appealing to our combined readership. Please let me know if you would be interested in this.

Sincere regards,
Sanjay Dalla

2. JC - July 22, 2007

Looking forward to F2F discussions sometime.

3. marty mc'clure - February 1, 2008

If you always think the way you’ve always thought, you’ll always get what you always got. The same old, same old ideas over and over again. The future belongs to those thinkers who embrace change, break new ground, forge new paths, and transform the way they think. Discover how to look at the same information as everyone else and see something different by using the creative thinking techniques and strategies that creative geniuses have used throughout history.
Internationally acclaimed creativity expert Michael Michalko’s Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative Thinking Techniques have inspired business thinkers around the world to create the innovative ideas and creative strategies they need to achieve unimaginable success in today’s changing business environment of complexity and uncertainty. Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.

[Available at http://www.amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and most major bookstores. Visit http://www.creativethinking.net for more detailed information.]

4. bibomedia.com - March 7, 2008


5. Paula Krapf - April 2, 2008

Dr. Sawyer,

With your focus on creativity, you might like to see a copy of Jack’s Notebook by Gregg Fraley. It’s a business novel about Creative Problem Solving.

A little about the book and author: Jack’s Notebook depicts the story of down-and-out 20-something, Jack Huber, as he embarks on a journey of self-realization and life change. Jack’s mentor and guide on his internal expedition is Manny Gibran, a creativity consultant and expert in a process known as Creative Problem Solving. After a brief yet informative tutorial in the practices of CPS, Jack finds himself quitting his dead-end part time jobs, following his lifelong dream of opening up his own photography business, and, as an added yet unexpected bonus, falling in love. Jack even manages to solve a mystery and save his damsel in distress along the way.

About the author: Gregg Fraley works as an innovation consultant to Fortune 500 companies and does keynote speeches and workshops on creative thinking, innovation, problem solving, and new-product development. He is a partner in The Innovise Guys, an innovation and entertainment podcast. Fraley is a board member of the Creative Education Foundation (CEF), and he teaches creative problem solving at CEF’s annual Creative Problem Solving Institute (CPSI). He is also a professional member of the National Speakers Association (USA). Learn more at http://www.greggfraley.com/.

Warm regards,


6. Ariel - May 31, 2008

It’s terribly short notice but you might be interested in a conference I am helping to organize called Overlap08 (theoverlap.org) on June 13-15 in West Cornwall, Connecticut.
It’s a peer-to-peer conference about the overlap of design (or creativity) business and sustainable innovation.
It’s two hours from New York – so breasonable-almost-if you lived in New York.
Last year’s Overlap site is a little more robust: http://theoverlap.org/2007/
If you are flexible enough send an email to info address on theoverlap.org site (08) and I’ll get it. Thanks for your site!

7. Sergio Sibaja - July 2, 2008

I serendipitously unearthed your blog on the science of creativity. it rules. that is all.


8. elcin cirik - July 15, 2008

Dear Mr. Sawyer,
As Capital Magazine, we are preparing a story about ‘how to create successful innovations ideas’.
I though my subject would be interesting for you.
Concerning our subject, I would like to ask you some questions.
If you please answer them, we will be glad to quote.
Our deadline is 18th of July.
-How to create successful innovations ideas? What are the secrets of the creative thinking?
-How can a employee find the best ideas of innovation for his company? Where he should pay attention for finding the good innovation ideas in a company?
Thank you very much for your interest
Looking forward to your answers
Best Regards
Elcin Cirik
Capital Magazine
0090 212 410 33 15

9. Mathinee Theabrata - July 17, 2008

Dear Mr. Sawyer,

Last week,I got a big question! Why did my CEO give your book (Group Genius) for us. The question drive me for searching your informations about your books. Maybe if you check on a number of selling from Thailand, you will found that the big company bought a numerous of books. I am the one who work at this place, and received the book form my boss. (www.scg.co.th.)

By the way, I’m glade to read your book!

Sincerely yours,


10. keithsawyer - July 17, 2008

I am delighted to hear that your company is reading my new book. It is filled with advice and information that can make any organization more innovative, and it’s based on the latest research on group creativity.

Many Asian countries are keenly interested in this topic; GROUP GENIUS has been translated into Chinese (both modern and traditional), Korean, and Japanese.

11. Kanokrat Kitsanaserani - October 9, 2008

Dear Dr. Sawyer,

This is my first time to found your very useful blog. Because I will join trainning “Creativity and Innovation: Unleash Your Potential for Greater Success ” on 20Oct’08 support by my company. So try to find some information about this topic then I found your blog. I intend to read it (eventhough my English is not well (^__^) ). I would like to light up my creative thinking as much as I can… I am just staff in worldwide company but I love to learn. I intend to find your book GROUP GENIUS …soon.

warmest regards,
Kanokrat (Noy)

12. keithsawyer - October 9, 2008

Thank you so much for this posting. I wish you great success with your training (which has the same name as my blog!) GROUP GENIUS has been translated into several languages and is available worldwide in English. Let me know what you think!

13. Andrew Carey - October 9, 2008

Last year, The Economist ran a 6-month innovation project: Project Red Stripe. We’re about to publish a book about it. Called Inside Project Red Stripe, it’s published conventionally (www.triarchypress.com) and, over the next few months, online (projectredstripe.blogspot.com). It’s an account of the six-month project and we think it’s a good guide to innovation and teamwork in business and the media. Each chapter identifies dilemmas that are likely to face any innovation team or project.

I hope you’ll find time to have a look and that you’ll find it interesting.

Kind regards,

Andrew Carey

14. keithsawyer - October 10, 2008

Thank you for this information. I visited Triarchy Press’s web site and the book looks fascinating: the publisher writes that the book “suggests new ways of approaching thorny problems and provides a wry insight into the workings of homo creativus.” I look forward to reading it!

15. David Raath - December 16, 2008

Hi Keith

I love your blog, it falls squarely into my interest and business area. I will definitely be looking for your book on my next visit to the bookshop.


David Raath, Cape Town SA

16. visionarymarketing - February 9, 2009

Dear Keith
I wish I had discovered your blog earlier on.
I definitely see stuff that I can refer to in your articles, and I will have a look at your latest book.
I might drop a few comments here and there at my convenience and add a link in my blogroll to your blog.
Yann Gourvennec
Marketing & Innovation

keithsawyer - February 9, 2009

Great! Thank you and I look forward to reading what you think about these topics.

17. tomislav - April 10, 2009

Hi Keith,
I just saw your blog and found out very interesting posts. I’m looking forward to read it in future and I will link it in my blogroll because I’m writing about similar topics in my blog.

Tomislav Buljubasic, Osijek, Croatia

keithsawyer - April 10, 2009

I’m glad to hear my blog has been helpful and I look forward to reading your blog as well.

18. Ricardo Sosa - April 26, 2009

Hi, thanks for an insightful blog. Perhaps you’d find worth reading this: http://mostinnovativeideas.blogspot.com/


19. AndyTedd - September 18, 2009

Hi Keith

Any reason why you don’t have a twitter? I would much rather get tweets about your new stuff and blogs than eg Florida’s.

I have just used the following quote from you:

“…many creative collaborations are almost invisible – and it’s these largely unseen and undocumented collaborations that hold the key to group genius.”

as a reason why twitter and equivalent sharing technologies are great for supporting innovation…

PS glad to help if you want help with it, although I doubt it’s needed

20. Karin Wall - October 5, 2009

Dear Dr. Sawyer, I found your blog very interesting. You migt be interested in reading our online magazine at http://www.InnovationManagement.se, sharing knowledge and inspiration within the field of innovation management. How to work with your creative processes is for ex one important part of innovation management. Welcome to visit us and we are always interested in voices from our readers on interesting topics to cover.

Kind regads
Karin Wall, editor in chief

21. Wat druk op de ketel verhoogt creativiteit « Muziek & de bibliotheek - August 19, 2010

[…] Makes Groups More Creative, stuitte ik vanochtend op een artikel van de hand van professor Keith Sawyer. Daarin beschrijft hij dat in het verleden al werd aangetoond dat externe druk de coherentie en […]

22. Avi Dey - October 7, 2010

On Innovation in Business (Peter Drucker)

Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship. The act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth.
Peter Drucker

Comments ?

keithsawyer - October 7, 2010

Absolutely! I’m glad that you point out the importance of innovation to entrepreneurship.

23. Nyla Batts Smith - February 2, 2011

Dr. Sawyer, I see you are blogging away! It’s been a few years, I trust all is going well.

I’ve recently started a blog pertaining to design, and my latest post is on creativity. While I was writing it, I thought about the Explaining Creativity site I created for you, and the research that you do. It turned out to be quite relevant to my post. So, you’ve just made a guest appearance in my blog, and I’ve linked back here to yours.

I just wanted to let you know! In case you read it, I would love to hear your feedback.

Take care!

The link to the post is:


keithsawyer - February 2, 2011

I’ve read it and it’s exactly right about sharing and collaboration!

I still love the web sites you did for me.

24. Clowning Around For Better Empathy and Design « Censemaking - February 10, 2011

[…] insight it produced demonstrated enormous potential for design and teamwork. Building on work that Keith Sawyer has done looking at improv and creativity, this session demonstrated just how powerful non-verbal, […]

25. Susan Duralde - February 22, 2011

Dr. Sawyer,
I just found your blog. We are working with teams in the business world and have a language and methodology for creating predictably high-performing teams. Creativity comes in many forms, as you know. We measure three distinct types of ‘on-demand’ creative thinking. We know how to build teams that foster this type of thinking. Here is a link that discusses our reaction to Dr. Woolley’s research: http://methodteaming.com/143. We believe that one component of creativity is having a team of diverse Intellects (including the one with on-demand creative thinking capability) working together productively. We have defined the natural talents of this type of person – this person’s Intellect. We know that when this person (a Networker) is engaged productively in a team, team productivity and morale jump dramatically.
Clearly, I need to read your book to understand your thoughts. Have you read the Orange Revolution? We believe they provide great insight, but are lacking a systematic way to get the right people involved in the teams. That is something we have figured out how to do.

keithsawyer - February 22, 2011

I just took a look at your web site and you are doing great work! Thank you for contacting me.

26. Simon Woods - February 24, 2011

Hi Keith, I am doing some work on designing the next Out of the Box performing arts festival of early childhood, a major festival in Australia for years 3-8. Someone suggested that you’ve done work on creativity and pre-schoolers – is that the case? If so, can you refer me to any of this work? Kind regards, Simon Woods, Producer, Queensland Performing Arts Centre

keithsawyer - February 25, 2011

That sounds fascinating! I will be in touch via email.

27. Jiska van Espelo - March 31, 2011

Dear doctor Sawyer,

I would like to ask you some advise, if I may.
I am finishing my study this year and become a teacher in fine arts and design. At the moment I am in my last training period, giving design classes to students, intermeditate vocational education. I have to do an iquiry about creativity and the question how a teacher can improve the creative and autonomic thinking for students (round the age of 18). I noticed they still choose the conventional way many times and I want to learn how to stimulate them to think a little further, especially because they are future-designers. They must learn how to make a difference. My question is: What literature would you recommend? Are there any translated versions in Dutch? It would be a lot easier for me, because I am short in my time… I hope you can help me. I’d be grateful.

Thank you very much in advance,

Kind regards, Jiska van Espelo

keithsawyer - April 4, 2011

I recommend that you look for publications of the Center for Creativity Research at Aalborg University in Denmark.

28. Les Idées Jaunes » Blog Archive » R. Keith Sawyer et l’esprit créatif (“creative mind”) - Les carnets de Mark Raison, consultant et facilitateur en créativité chez Yellow Ideas - April 12, 2011

[…] secrets cachés du cerveau créatif”. Il s’agit d’une interessante  interview du Professeur R. Keith Sawyer de la Washington University de Saint-Louis qui étudie la créativité depuis des années. Pour ce […]

29. Bring Back the Lost Art of Tinkering | MindShift - April 14, 2011

[…] innovative knowledge economy. “Very few schools teach students how to create knowledge,” says Professor Keith Sawyer of Washington University, a leading education and innovation researcher, “Instead, students are […]

30. On Grad School, Creativity, and “Honoring Your Vomit” | Sanjay Kairam - April 28, 2011

[…] creativity through repetition is evident in the insights gained from psychologist Keith Sawyer‘s interviews of winners of the New Yorker cartoon caption contest. According to his research, […]

31. The Persistent Myth of the Lone Genius in Art and Science « Censemaking - June 7, 2011

[…] Keith Sawyer, a psychologist and researcher of innovation and creativity, asked that the lone genius myth to be […]

32. Jane Baxter - June 27, 2011

Hi Keith,
I feel like I’ve been a “lone” creator by default for some time now and would like to set up a consultation with you, if your time and interest permits. I would prefer not to put the details on your blog, but can say generally that I’ve been practicing a model of mental health treatment that also combines a physical component, for the past 8 years. I was contacted by a publisher this past Fall to write a self-help book on the topic which will be coming out in September. Someone suggested setting up a business process (or method?) patent, but I really know nothing about that and given the Supreme Court ruling am not sure if that would even be possible. Look forward to hearing from you and thank you in advance for your consideration,

keithsawyer - June 27, 2011

Good luck with your new book! I blogged about the Supreme Court ruling in this post:


I recommend that you get in touch with a patent lawyer, your issue is beyond my expertise :)

33. Design for Social Norms or Social Change? « Censemaking - August 6, 2011

[…] received a lot of attention in the mediasphere and came on the heels of another interesting post by Keith Sawyer on Chinese social norms and the Tiger Mom phenomenon (that I also wrote on a while back). Returning […]

34. joost Kadijk - August 8, 2011

Hi Keith,
We met during the AIN conference in Chicago 2008 and did a book swap (your Group Genius against our Creativity today) I just reread the part on the importance of diversity in teams in order to enhance creativity. That is how I bumped into your site.

End of this year I will publish a book on creativity, innovation and improvisation. Will send you a copy!

Hope all is well!

best regards from the Netherlands,

Joost Kadijk

keithsawyer - August 9, 2011

It’s good to hear from you! Absolutely, I would love to read your book!

35. Elisabeth D. - October 15, 2011

Dear Dr. Sawyer,

I am interested in knowing what you have to say about teaching creativity and innovation to children. Is it possible to teach someone that? I have not read your book yet as I only just came upon its existence so, I do not know if this topic is dealt with in it. I have been trying to teach it for years but find many cultural inhibitors (I live in Europe). I would like to find out as much as possible about dealing with creativity & innovation at a young age. Do you have suggestions as to where to go? What to read?



keithsawyer - October 17, 2011

This is a complex topic and there are no firm conclusions. I have written one chapter in a book, that is a fairly comprehensive overview of such efforts; the book will be published November 2011 and is called Explaining Creativity (Second edition) so you should be able to get a copy very soon.

36. Claudio Delrio - November 2, 2011

Dear Keith

I am part of the GRACE European project http://grace-project.blogspot.com/ funded by the European Union, aiming at developing a methodology supporting multi-stakeholders generation of innovation. I have promoted your blog in our project blog. We believe we are doing an interesting research project and are happy to provide more details.

Best regards,
Claudio Delrio

keithsawyer - November 2, 2011

I have heard of GRACE but only a little, and I would enjoy learning more. You can find my email easily with an Internet search (or on my web site). Thank you for making contact!
Also, I will be a keynote speaker at the World Creativity Forum in Hasselt, Belgium on November 16.

37. James A. Lehman - November 6, 2011

Please look at my website: inventive-internet.com having the only
interactive inventive methods in the world and pass on your

38. Weaken your network! - December 29, 2011

[…] at the Creative World Forum, Keith Sawyer put a similar notion forward under the name of collaborative web. He shows that innovative ideas […]

39. Do-It-Yourself Creativity | gnovis - January 25, 2012

[…] effort; the result of intricate networks of influence and cultural and contextual interactions. Keith Sawyer distinguishes between little ‘c’ creativity, (the result of novel ways of doing individual, […]

40. Rich Makadok - February 13, 2012


I would be very interested in reading your opinions about the recently published book, “Brainsteering: A Better Approach to Breakthrough Ideas” by Kevin Coyne, the former worldwide head of McKinsey’s strategy consulting practice. It is available from Amazon on the following web page:


keithsawyer - February 13, 2012

It sounds fascinating! There are too many books on creativity and innovation for me to keep up with them all (though I buy so many I can’t even keep them all in my office). I will try to find a copy.

41. brainsworkaward - May 8, 2012

For all creative minds and futuremakers, who are willing to change something:

4th IncrediblEurope Summit – the most eclectic gathering of future-makers in Europe: June 14-15, 2012 in Vienna/Austria. The IE Summit gathers some of the most influential innovative, creative and entrepreneurial future-makers, willing to make a difference today for the Europe of tomorrow. 250+ speakers (meaning all participants) playing an active role on both days will interact with carefully selected futuremakers, encounter start-ups meeting money, lay emphasis on experience and business exchange, and enjoy the time for networking at the European “Muttankstelle”. This year’s topic is “Co-create the future!” which refers to on one hand the responsibility of each of us to actively create our future and on the other the force of united bottom-up action.
For more information and registration please visit


42. Proposal For An Open Work Space | LogiGear Magazine - July 5, 2012

[…] Sawyer is an author and university professor and is considered one of the country’s leading scientific experts on creativity. He is the author of Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration, which was the […]

43. Inspiring Creative Learning « WikiQuals - July 25, 2012

[…] you engage with is about working with groups to achieve a common goal, like CROS for example. Keith Sawyer actually has a term for this process ‘Group Genius’ which is about improvisation, deep […]

44. Inspiring Creative Learning « CrosQuals - July 25, 2012

[…] you engage with is about working with groups to achieve a common goal, like CROS for example. Keith Sawyer actually has a term for this process ‘Group Genius’ which is about improvisation, deep […]

45. Sam Harrison - September 5, 2012

Many thanks for your kinds words about IdeaSpotting. And best wishes for your upcoming book, Zig Zag — can’t wait to read it!

46. Creativity, Collaboration, and Culture Help New Employees Ease Into Roles « xiik - October 11, 2012

[…] bleeding-edge ideas, innovations, and solutions. That’s what cornerstones our culture, what Keith Sawyer calls “disciplined improvisation.” What struck me most after being at xiik for a few weeks was […]

47. Michael Shaughnessy - May 14, 2013

Dr. Sawyer : I would like to do a lengthy interview with you about your work for the International Journal of Thinking and Problem Solving, edited by James Kaufman. COntact me if interested at Michael.Shaughnessy@enmu.edu THANSK

48. La creatividad en la publicidad gráfica: 9 tips para incrementarla | paredro.com - September 3, 2013

[…] y utilizadas para incrementar la creatividad. Sin embargo, es un método bastante malo. Según Keith Sawyer, psicólogo de la Universidad de Washington, “cuando se hace lluvia de ideas en grupo se producen […]

49. 10 consejos para estimular la creatividad : Blog MILVUELTAS - October 14, 2013

[…] Antes de participar en una sesión de brainstorming, es recomendable pensar por uno mismo. Según Keith Sawyer, profesor de Psicología de la Universidad de Washington, “cuando se hace lluvia de ideas en […]

50. Iceland Culture: Creativity And Politics | Standby! - October 27, 2013

[…] politicians in suits and ties; presentable and predictable. As an article in the Huffington Post by Dr. R. Keith Sawyer pointed out, we expect our politicians to be spokespersons for our political ideals, and while […]

51. Reading Innovation and the New Economy | Censemaking - December 17, 2013

[…] talent that could have transferrable benefit beyond one context. And as researchers like Keith Sawyer have noted, the benefits of theatre on creativity and group collaboration are significant. The […]

52. Creation Story: 10 Reasons to Craft with Kids | Remarkable Advice - December 20, 2013

[…] to studies by Dr. R. Keith Sawyer and others, people who spend their days involved in creative pursuits have a greater […]

53. Top 10 Reasons to Craft with your Kids | Damn cute! Blog - December 29, 2013

[…] People who spend their days in creativity processes tend to have a greater sense of well-being, self-worth and self-esteem than those who don’t, according to studies by Dr. Keyth Sawyer. […]

54. Gatekeeping and Board Diversity | Creative Infrastructure - February 9, 2014

[…] conclusions about the positive impact of heterogeneity on group creativity (and there’s Keith Sawyer‘s prodigious research on group creativity as well).  The nonprofit arts board, working in a […]

55. La inspiración está en todas partes | We can DO BETA - March 13, 2014

[…] Keith Sawyer, autor de Zig-zag; el sorprendente camino hacia la creatividad y profesor de educación creativa en […]

56. Creativity and Craft, Myth and Muscle | Censemaking - March 24, 2014

[…] in his TED talk, something we all have in us that may simply be hidden. More than anyone, Dr Keith Sawyer knows this having put together perhaps the strongest collection of evidence for the application of […]

57. 8 Zig Zag Steps To Creativity — Part 1 - Macali Communications - December 11, 2014

[…] comes in eight incremental steps. But those steps are not necessarily linear order, says Dr. Keith Sawyer, research psychologist and author of  “Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater […]

58. 8 Zig Zag Steps To Creativity — Part 2 - Macali Communications - December 16, 2014

[…] creative involves eight incremental steps that aren’t necessarily linear order, reports Dr. Keith Sawyer, a research psychologist and author of  “Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater […]

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