Alex Osborn

Alex F. Osborn

Dr. Alex F. Osborn was a co-founder of the now-iconic BBDO advertising agency, where he coined and developed a deliberate creative-thinking method known as “brainstorming.” Osborn’s persona as a high-powered New York advertising executive often overshadows what might be his most laudable and courageous accomplishment—establishing the field of creativity education. 

Osborn’s radical ideas and persistent efforts led to the founding of the Creative Education Foundation and, by extension, through his close collaboration with Dr. Sidney J. Parnes, to the establishment of the Creative Studies Program at Buffalo State. Working with Parnes, the two developed the Osborn-Parnes Creative Problem-Solving Model and later, together with Dr. Ruth Noller, a methodology for teaching it to students. 

As a business leader, Osborn was acutely aware of the contribution creativity made to organizational success and, as such, began to develop and test methodologies that would enhance the probability that individuals and teams could generate creative solutions in response to complex problems. The success of his creative-process methodologies led to the publication of several books, most notably “Applied Imagination.” Released in 1953, this book introduced the Creative Problem-Solving process to the world. In literature related to the creative process, Applied Imagination remains one of the most frequently cited books on this topic. 

Although he was a businessman, Osborn’s dream was to impact education in such a way as to preserve the creative imagination of students. With that in mind, he founded the Creative Education Foundation in 1954. Later this foundation led to the establishment of the Creative Studies Department at Buffalo State, which has helped countless students develop and grow their understanding and application of creative thinking and problem-solving.