I have been voraciously reading the literature on creativity over the past year. Not the crap that comes out of the self-help literature or even in the entrepreneurship mass media. These are pretty trivial and often shortchange the science. There have been many serious research studies that have broad implications for individual and business creative output.
But I am not planning on sharing that research today. That will have to wait for another day. Today I want to share a really interesting creative exercise that seems to follow (intentional or not I cannot say) some of the guidelines suggested by the research.
The idea of the Escape Room is pretty simple. Some number of people are locked in a room. The room contains clues for how to get out of the room. There is usually some backstory involved that makes it fun. The level of difficulty can range pretty widely.
Here are the attributes that I really like about it.
- It is semi-constrained problem solving. This is one of the findings of the creativity research. Too open and it is just nonsense. Too constrained and it is not creativity it is just problem solving. But if you hit the sweet spot in between, it can really exercise the creativity muscles.
- The backstory (if it is any good) increases the depth of user engagement. This boosts intrinsic motivation, which is another attribute that enhances creativity.
- It involves teamwork. The effectiveness of team creativity depends on the composition of the team, but that is a pretty good simulation of the real world. It increases the social collaboration muscle that works well with the creativity muscle.
- The clues can represent all different kinds of problem solving and thereby recruit different dimensions of intellectual exercise. Perceptual pattern recognition, verbal pattern recognition, logic problems, motor coordination challenges, and so on.
- It is possible that something discarded at one point becomes relevant later. Or something that seemed useful at one point turns out to be irrelevant. This provides metacognitive practice to avoid anchoring and confirmation bias. Other
- There is a debrief when you are done. This is critical for closing the loop on your creativity training.
I would love to hear about any real experiences with Escape Rooms. Barring that, I would also like to know what your instincts tell you about it. Does my assessment ring true?
Image Credit: Formal House