Marnina Herrmann

Doctoral Candidate

Prof. Emeritus Gabriela Goldschmidt, Prof. Ella Miron-Spektor (INSEAD, Fontainebleau France)

Marnina Herrmann has a Bachelors of Design in Visual Communication Design from York University in Toronto, Canada. Upon graduating, she moved from Toronto to Haifa to attend Technion where she completed her MSc in Industrial Design. As a masters student Marnina researched how ‘design thinking’ was defined and described by the design and business communities, trying to find the common ground between the two groups. After graduating Marnina worked as a graphic designer in the medical device industry before returning to Technion to do a PhD. Marnina is interested in the design process, the cognitive processes a designer employs while working, and how non-designers can learn from designers how to be more creative and effective problem solvers. Her dissertation focuses on the constraint – creativity relationship. She is also interested in psychological time perspective and how one’s relationship to time affects performance in a multicultural setting.

The Dynamic Relationship Between Constraints and Creativity

My research explores the question of whether resource constraints that are introduced at different times in the design process will enhance or inhibit creativity by forcing one to search for original ideas within an increasingly narrowing design space. Current research discussing the constraints-creativity relationship almost exclusively studies the effects of constraints that are introduced at the beginning of the creative process. This does not reflect the dynamic nature of the design process and the fact that in the real world, project constraints and requirements are not always available prior to commencing work. This is problematic because the cognitive processes we employ throughout the design process change as we work our way towards a solution. Additionally, as research from other domains, such as fixation and behavioural economics demonstrate, our relationship to our solution changes as we get more entrenched in the problem solving process, making the introduction of new constraints an interesting phenomenon to study. The ability to isolate the optimal time to introduce constraints into the creative process may help explain some of the mixed findings in the research, as well as help us structure projects to optimize creativity.
The research employed controlled laboratory experiments in order to study the effect of constraint timing on creativity. The first study was an ideation task, where participants were asked to use various “parts” to design a series of toys. The experiment looked at whether those presented with no constraints, those who had the constraints from the start, or those who got the constraints midway through the process were more creative. Participants in the no-constraint group had the most creative results. A follow-up study involved a two-part design task that included an ideation phase followed by a development phase. Constraints were given to participants prior to starting the design task, midway through the ideation phase or midway through the development phase. Creativity was highest when constraints were given prior to the ideation phase and was lowest when constraints were given during the ideation phase. When constraints were given during the development phase creativity was not affected. We also examined various boundary conditions such as fluency and paradox mindsets.

Creativity, constraints, design methods, organizational behavior, paradox mindset

Herrmann, M., & Goldschmidt, G. (2013). Thinking About Design Thinking: A Comparative Study of Design and Business Texts. In ICoRD’13 Global Product Development (pp. 29–40).
Herrmann, M., Goldschmidt, G., & Miron-Spektor, E. (2018). The Ins and Outs of the Constraint-Creativity Relationship. In DS 89: Proceedings of The Fifth International Conference on Design Creativity (pp. 160-167).

Creativity, Design Methods, Design Thinking, Organizational Psychology, Psychological Time Perspective, Motivational Psychology