George Prince was a mentor, friend and role model. It was some small satisfaction that we corresponded again after a gap of many years, a few months before he died on June 9th 2009
After too long a gap, we had reconnected by email in late 2008. He sent me a remarkable message in reply to mine enquiring how he was. He reported his declining health in typically upbeat style.
The exchange of emails took me back to the time he spent in England in the 1960s, as part of his work promoting creativity. George had attracted the attention of The Unilever organization and it was my good fortune to have learned from him how creativity in project teams could be stimulated by appropriate structures.
George M. Prince is ..co-founder of Synectics©, Inc., the company that initiated research into the creative process and then became the leading teacher of inventors for business and industry. As long time Chairman of Synectics, he and his partners originated the idea of videotaping invention groups to learn how the process of invention occurred. Based on their discoveries, they developed courses in creativity and innovation that have been taught all over the world. In 1970, Prince published one of the early books about the process: The Practice of Creativity, Harper and Row, 1970. It became a best-selling trade book.
It would be misleading of me to leave the account without making mention of his erstwhile colleague, Bill Gordon with whom he conducted pioneering work in the Arthur D. Little engineering consultancy. As often happens, the two young pioneers went their different ways. Bill, always the more academically-inclined, turned to creativity within educational contexts; George, the former advertising executive, founded a successful and innovative management consultancy.
We were later to meet in various locations, including a conference on whole brain creativity at Key West, where he shared celebrity status with Paul Torrance. The Practice of Creativity was to me rather more than a trade book as described on his own web-site.
His ideas had influenced my writings, and have been gratefully acknowledged in a range of publications across several decades.
More importantly, he opened my mind to an approach to facilitating team creativity which he would demonstrate in training workshops. His own style was that of a remarkably inviting and unthreatening friend. The experiences contributed to notions of trust-based leadership which I associated with the work of Monty Roberts. (More recently, and in hindsight, I would add Sid Parnes as another exemplar of the style).
The approach to facilitation of group work has been an influence on me ever since my first and most impactful experiences of it four decades ago.
George Prince, like Monty Roberts and Sid Parnes, taught by example and invitation. His legacy, as of many charismatic leaders, resides not so much in what he wrote, but what impact his actions have had on others.
To Vincent Nolan former chairman Synectics Europe who passed on the news and the obituary to George Price in The Boston Globe.