The creativity sweet spot between obvious and random. (Episode 197)

The creativity sweet spot between obvious and random. (Episode 197)

Question: On a scale between 0 and 100, where 0 is totally obvious and 100 is totally random where would you put a good idea?

The, perhaps surprising, answer is 70.

I got this number from Rafa Jiménez, whom I met in Mexico City. Rafa is the founder & CEO of Seenapse and Rafa has been thinking about AI for creativity since 2014, years before thinking about AI became trendy. His tool, Seenapse, helps creatives to become more creative by using an AI tool specifically developed for helping people get better ideas.

When tweaking their model they realised that when the AI generated obvious answers, people, obviously, found them uncreative. But when the model generated totally random answers the users equally found them uncreative. It turns out that the most valuable results the AI created was when they asked the algorithm to create answers based on 70% obvious and 30% random.

To do that the model, of course, needs to know what you already know and Seenapse does that.

It’s easy to think that the less obvious something is the more creative it is, but the more you think about it the more you realise that creativity is about being “surprisingly familiar”.

It’s the same with a good joke. A story that is totally predictable is not going to be funny. But a story with a random ending that has nothing to do with what the rest of the story was about is not funny either – it’s just weird.

But a story that ends up right outside of the expected outcome, a story that ends in a way that makes sense, but not in the way you expected it to be presented, is the very definition of funny.

Creativity is not about random randomness, it’s about taking people out of their expected world while still letting them feel connected to what they already knew.

In whatever you create, think about your audience and ask: Is this 70% obvious?

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