What is 48create? – with Dr. Alon Amit by Mel Rosenberg - מל רוזנברג - Ourboox.com
I'm a writer, scientist, musician, inventor and lecturer. During the daytime I am advisor to the President of Shenkar College. In the evening I write children's books, satire, and "how to" manuals ("Mel's ten tips). I'm co-founder of Ourboox and married to Ourboox CEO Shuli Sapir-Nevo.
Oct 2013
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What is 48create? – with Dr. Alon Amit

by Mel Rosenberg - מל רוזנברג

I have been teaching university students for over forty years. Time and again I am surprised by their minimalist attitude towards learning. About anything. “Will it be on the exam?” they want to know. And nothing else.


Of course there are those amazing students who are curious about the world. Who notice things all the time. Who ask a lot of questions. Who surf Wikipedia, wandering happily from one hyperlink to another, to find out what a seven string ukulele looks like and whether fish do have wings. After all, creativity is all about linking things to each other. Especially when the links are special and unanticipated.


So how do you engender this kind of behavior in those who are not accustomed to it? Using techniques, that’s how. And that’s how we came up with one of our own.

48create is a simple method to use. It’s wacky and fun, just as creative thinking should be.



It starts with a list of 48 things, most of them ordinary things that we want to change. Why? No special reason.  Out of the list, we pick four things. We usually let the students do the picking. Oh, and if they want to add and subtract a thing or two, that’s just fine. But no more than four things in one exercise.


How do we want to change them and make them amazing? We have a list for that too. Forty-eight ways to change the world. Of course, in a single exercise we will pick only four of them. Together with the students.


The exercise is simple. The students (usually in small groups) take the four ‘things to change’ and the four ‘ways to change’ that they have chosen. Now, the creative process: can you take one of the four things, change it in one way to make it awesome? That is the challenge of 48create.


Let’s consider the following sample exercise. Out of the ‘things to change’ list we might have chosen:

Maple syrup


Queue (line) to the ATM





And from the ‘ways to change’ list we have chosen



Payment methods


Now the fun begins. Which of the four items do we want to change and in what way?


We can take the queue ATM as a ‘thing’ and TRANSPARENCY as a ‘way to change it’. We consider the problem that people can look over your shoulder to see what you are doing. Our amazing solution will be a polarized screen that you cannot see from more than 30 centimeters away.



Or, we can take the combo ‘sunglasses’ and ‘smell’. When the sunglasses have been exposed to too much heat and sunshine, they give off a warning odor.

And what about maple syrup and payment? Pay directly to the folks in Northern Quebec who have produced this elixir and find out a bit about their technique and their lives.


What about syringe and transparency? How about a syringe that is opaque to the person whose blood is being drawn (but the blood level can be seen at an angle by the health care worker drawing the blood)?


These are ideas that Alon and I came up with these ideas in minutes while writing this book. This illustrates just how much fun it is (and simple) to come up with cool ideas using the technique.



Why did you do it?

There are dozens of methods for creative thinking: brainstorming, TRIZ, SIT, Six Thinking Hats, and many more. All these methods were developed by very creative people.


But we felt that to teach innovation, we had to be innovative ourselves. So we developed 48create as an original tool of our own. Since then we have taught it locally and abroad, and it always works!!!


What were your working premises?

There were a few, actually.

First, people have trouble being highly creative and innovative when presented with infinite possibilities.


I remember once doing a test in which I was given a blank piece of paper and asked to draw or write on it. I was dumbfounded. What should I draw? What should I write? I usually have no trouble writing, but when confronted with infinite options, my mind froze on me. I literally stared at the paper for twenty minutes. People are less creative when only presented with ‘one alternative’.


Secondly, people have trouble being highly creative and innovative when presented with one possibility.

If I am asked to draw a tree, I will draw a tree. It will come out something like this picture. It may be beautiful or ugly, big or small, lean and tall or short and bushy. It may or may not have flowers, fruit, a bird, a nest. But it will not be lying sideways in a vat of peanut butter.


It turns out that when your goal is not to have a goal, the wacky ideas have more chance of being practical. Or so we think. After all, didn’t Einstein say that if an idea doesn’t appear at first absurd, it has no hope?


Unfortunately, as educators, we often give our students a specific ‘brief’.  “In my design class you can be as creative as you like, but everyone must create a chair to pass the course”.  Yuck.


Thirdly, goals can limit creativity. Too often, we teach innovation with a goal in mind. Save the world. Improve a process. Start a start-up. Invent a patentable invention.  Cure cancer. Sell a chewing gum. What happens when the goal is not the goal? What happens when the sole goal is to come up with cool, wacky ideas?


Why is ‘48’ your magic number?

Why 48? Well, first of all, it rhymes with ‘create’. Actually that is a very important reason. “But why not 58?” you might ask.

We ran out of ‘ways to change the world’. If you have ten more, perhaps we’ll make 58create.



Why do you choose ‘four’ things and ‘four’ ways in any given exercise?

Why four? We thought that three things was too limiting and five was too many.

You might disagree with us. That’s perfectly fine. So please go and invent your own creativity method.

What is 48create? – with Dr. Alon Amit by Mel Rosenberg - מל רוזנברג - Ourboox.com
What is 48create? – with Dr. Alon Amit by Mel Rosenberg - מל רוזנברג - Ourboox.com

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