Tag Archives: Sid Parnes

What’s WCID all about?

I was at our local chamber of commerce informal business networking event last night and invited those present, in 1:1 conversations, to begin planning for their World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21, 2018.

Tanya Sullivan, Nutrition and Wellness Consultant reviews WCID one-sheet with Marci Segal at Bow Valley Chamber of Commerce Bevvies and Business, October 25, 2017, held at Canmore Brewing Company.


Observations: Many did not know about it, and when they learned of the UN’s adoption of the day, paid attention.

I brought along a document, a handout, WCID One pager October 2017, that, given people’s reactions, needs improving.

As I discussed the WCID opportunities available for local businesses, some people understood right away, and others, well, not so much.


The Question: This morning, on reflection I wondered – what is World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21 and Week, April 15-21 all about? That is, how to best describe to people to invite participation?


The Aha! WCID is about flexibilizing people’s brains; to use new patterns of thinking to approach the challenges we face and will face in the future.


The Story: I took my first course in Creative Studies in 1977 with Dr. Sidney J. Parnes at the International Center for Studies in Creativity at SUNY Buffalo. On the first day of class, he handed out a blue examination booklet and said, “Solve a problem.”

I didn’t know what to do, so, I wrote 2+2=4 on the first page, closed the booklet, wrote my name on the cover and handed it in. I was out of the class in less than a minute.

At the end of the semester, without my knowing he would, Sid did the exactly the same thing.  He handed out blue examination booklets and said, “Solve a problem.”

This time, I opened the booklet and began to write, “Wouldn’t it be nice if…” and proceeded to use the creative problem-solving process we learned. I…

  • Identified a challenge to address
  • Scoped its context
  • Defined an opportunity for problem-solving
  • Generated many different ideas
  • Sculpted a prototype solution, and
  • Mapped its action plan.

After about 90 minutes, I closed the book, wrote my name on the cover and, before handing it over to Sid, asked if I could have it back when he was finished with it.  Sid smiled and said, “Yes.”

Sid Parnes, Marci Segal, 1995
Sid Parnes and Marci Segal at ACRE 2 in South Africa, 1995

In 16 weeks I learned how to use creativity in problem-solving; to honour the human spirit of curiosity, exploration, wonder, and imagination, and use them to perceive challenges and opportunities, and solve them, in new, unusual and relevant ways.

There was no looking back.

WCID founding principle 1: Wouldn’t it be great if everyone in the world had the confidence in their capacity to use creativity in problem-solving?


Call to Action

In planning for your WCID2018 do what you can to use your brain in ways it hasn’t been used before, to increase its flexibleness and your resilience to adapting to and creating meaningful change.

What are some ways to help people feel confident in their abilities to use their creativity in problem-solving?  Feel free to add suggestions, references, and resources for people to consult in the comments section.

WCID: celebrating that we can generate new ideas, make new decisions, take new actions and achieve new results that make the world a better place and make our place in the world better too.

Sid Parnes Obituary

nowheresmyplan1Friends, you may not be aware of a giant in the field of creativity, one who has been a creativity catalyst for people all over the world, for at least the last 60 years.  Sid Parnes passed away this week, and I want you to be familiar with his depth and reach, because in your knowing of his accomplishments, you can appreciate even that much more about your World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15 – 21 celebration.

Here is his obituary, posted by the Creative Education Foundation. The cartoon to the left was one he would show in class to show there is always a way to go beyond what you feel might be a block.


Dr. Sidney J. Parnes Obituary

Dr. Sidney J. Parnes, 91, Distinguished World-Class Educator, Researcher, Author on Creative Behavior

San Diego, CA, August 20, 2013  – – Dr. Sidney J. Parnes, who pioneered  Creative Thinking and Creative Problem-Solving with Alex Osborn, founder of the Creative Education Foundation in 1954, died August 19, 2013 in San Diego. He was 91.

Dr. Parnes was the world’s leading expert on creativity, innovation and creative problem-solving. A lifelong researcher, author and distinguished world-class educator, he was one of the most sought-after inspirational keynote speakers and teachers for more than a half century. He was also the Founding Director and Professor Emeritus of the International Center for Studies in Creativity at the State University College at Buffalo and its Master’s degree program.

Throughout his lengthy career, he continued to update and perfect the Osborn/Parnes Creative Problem-Solving process which is currently taught at creative problem-solving institutes, seminars, workshops and conferences in more than 30 countries

Starting in 1956 as Director of the Creative Problem-Solving Institute (CPSI), Buffalo State College, he initiated its distinctive spirit for “deferred judgment and unconditional love”. In June 2004 when the Foundation and CPSI celebrated their 50th anniversary, Parnes said, “Those past five decades have been the peak periods of my life, especially my first attempts to direct a fully experiential institute.”

sidparnesParnes also pioneered research and furthered knowledge of creativity in 1967 by assembling the most comprehensive library at the State University College at Buffalo with over 2,400 volumes and launched the scholarly Journal of Creative Behavior now in its 46th year as a quarterly publication.

From 1967 to 1984, he served as President of the Creative Education Foundation and subsequently, Chairman of its Board of Trustees. He continued to play a highly active and influential role on the Board as a Lifetime Trustee until his recent illness.

As the foremost authority on creativity he has traveled to North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia, leading countless conferences, workshops, seminars and courses for leaders in numerous professions. And, as a pioneer researcher and prolific author, he has made the most significant contributions to the field with a dozen leading-edge books and hundreds of articles, translated into seven languages.

Numerous organizations have expressed appreciation to Parnes for his lifetime contributions to the creative movement, such as The Odyssey of the Mind Organization, State University College at Buffalo and Creative Education Foundation with awards for Service/Commitment, Distinguished Leader and Outstanding Creative Achievements.

The Innovation Network recognized his immense contributions with a Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2003; the Foundation inducted him into its first Hall of Fame. The American Creativity Association also inducted him into its first Hall of Fame in 2004 and in May 2009, more than 150 colleagues, students, friends and family gathered at Daemen College, Buffalo, NY to acknowledge and celebrate his endearing legacy. They cited his exceptional qualities: “integrity, wit, wisdom, compassion” and praised his “ability and leadership to suggest bold ideas, make brave decisions when faced with difficult choices, arbitrate positive outcomes and resolve differences. His demeanors in those situations,” they said, “were always warm, friendly and graced with humility.”

When asked, “Why such passionate pursuits to help everyone – worldwide – release their creative potential in their personal and professional lives?” Parnes replied, “Because creativity enables us to make our world a better place. Of all the gifts we have as humans, the one that stands out, giant-like above all the rest is our ability to be creative. It is responsible for all the progress we enjoy today.”

His key learnings:”Always appreciate the good in others and stay optimistic. I believe one can find opportunities in any problem,” he said. He credits his wife, Bea, for assisting him in his lifelong research and development work, adding: “She’s my indispensible colleague, my life companion and dearest friend.”

In addition to his wife, Beatrice, Parnes leaves a daughter, Susan; son-in-law, William Hartwell, a CPSI leader, and grandchildren, Alison and Aimee. His son, Robert is deceased.

– – – – – – – – – – –

A note from Marci:  Sid Parnes was one of my teachers, on many levels.  His inspiration to begin a program in creative studies and the creative problem solving institute led directly to my being a creativity professional, and so with many others too. Thanks Sid. You’ve made a world of difference.

The Road to Ithica – a poem toward embarking on a journey

This poem was contributed by Harry Vardis in honour of Sid Parnes’ recent passing. Sid was a pioneer in the field of creativity, a teacher, mentor, researcher, advocate, and a kind and gentle man.  It was he who first taught me that creativity can be used in problem-solving.

Sid Parnes and Marci Segal at ACRE 2 in South Africa, 1995

Ithaca by Constantine Cavafis

As you set out for Ithaca
hope your road is a long one.
Full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclopes and angry Poseidon,
don’t be afraid of them.
You’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as rare excitement stirs your spirit and body
Laistrygonians, Cyclops, wild Poseidon,
you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.
Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many sunny mornings
when with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations to buy fine things
mother of pearl, and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfumes of every kind—as many sensual perfumes as you can,
and may you visit many Egyptian cities to learn,
and to go on learning from their scholars.
Keep Ithaca always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island.
Wealthy with all you’ve gained
not expecting Ithaca to make you rich.
Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey
without her you wouldn’t have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor,
Ithaca won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become,
so full of experiences,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithacas mean.