Before going rogue, try going regular. People generate more ideas with templates than with brainstorming. Templates give people freedom to improvise, because the overall steps are already clear. Templates are a kind of constraint, and constraints are proven to amplify creativity. “People favor risk-free shortcuts,” write Ann Susan and Justin B. Hollander in Cognitive Architecture, and they “tend to shun things that require conscious effort and paying extra attention.” 
Research on how templates prompt creativity
Research shows that constraints make us more effective at creating new and useful ideas—and templates are much more successful than brainstorming and random idea generation.
Consider the following research on how templates inspire creativity. Jacob Goldenberg, David Mazursky, and Sorin Soloman write in Science, “Ideas suggested by individuals working alone are superior to ideas suggested in brainstorming sessions and the performance of problem solvers instructed to ‘break the rules, get out of the square, and change paradigms’ was not better than that of individuals who were not given any instructions at all.” 
They continue, “Indeed, many ill-defined problems seem difficult, not because we are swamped by the enormous number of alternative possibilities, but because we have trouble thinking even of one idea worth pursuing.” Cognitive psychology studies indicate that the detection and use of rules during the generation of ideas may even result in enhanced surprisingness (a dimension of creativity). For example, according to Perkins, adherence to a cognitive frame of reference involves sensitivity to the “rules of the game” and, by functioning within a frame, one achieves a better position from which to notice or recognize the unexpected.
“In a survey of ads, 89% of the awardwinning ads contained one of six regularities, or “creativity templates.” Of these, about 25% could be schematically depicted as a simple template termed “Replacement.” Research shows that constraints make us more effective at creating new and useful ideas—and templates are much more successful than brainstorming and random idea generation.
Benefits of using templates to inspire creativity:
“Regularities,” Goldenberg, Mazursky, and Soloman write in Science, “can serve as skeletons or an infrastructure for generating creative ideas. With these regularities defined, outlines of the main parameters can be fed those ideas that conform to these parameters.”
“This framework is likely to produce ideas that are perceived as creative, even though the welldefined rules and the exhaustive search used to obtain them are not what we traditionally viewed as pure creativity. We must reappraise our fundamental approaches to creativity and reevaluate its operational definition.” (Goldenberg, Mazursky, and Soloman)
Evaluating activities that incorporate templates to inspire creativity: As you evaluate the options for templates that inspire creativity, watch out for anything that creates adaptation by having too much structure, and that doesn’t allow for flexibility and autonomy.
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