Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Five Creativity Credos

Creativity is a high-level thinking because it evolves multiple thought processes.

Either working in the science like STEM or art like painting, writing or acting, the content of creativity is different, but contextually, it’s all about connecting the dots to create something fresh or figure out the better way to do things. To put simply, regardless of which discipline you take, art or science, creativity is about having the novel ideas or a new way to do things. Creative people are both nature and nurtured. The environment is like a catalyzer, which can inspire imagination and trigger creativity by stimulating one’s brain to connect the dots and synchronizing one’s mind and heart to concentrate and transcend for novel ideas to emerge. Here is a set of creativity credos.

Creativity is about thinking beyond conventional wisdom: Creative thinking is unique and original, many other types of thinking are not, such as the repetition of memory, the way of least resistance, emotional reaction, social conformity, approval seeking, dogmatism, etc. Creativity clearly comes from "opening" of the mind and focus of one's conscious. A certain mental, psychological and conditional chemistry is needed to break-away from thoughts that others have thought about. Creativity appears to be beyond the conventional thinking, where you have left the confines of other people's thoughts. Everyone has a creative potential that can be expressed through artistic or scientific creativity. Creativity is imaginative, expressive, productive, inventive, innovative, or emergent. A creative mind desperately needs to absorb the new knowledge across the disciplinary boundary in order to connect the wide dots and work out with more ideas consciously or subconsciously. When the brain is able to seek out solutions outside of the domain knowledge and irrespective of the direct linkage that any knowledge might have with the concerned domain, there will be a greater probability of success in creativity.

Creativity is not a "thing," it´s a process that happens as a proactive mental activity to a problem: Creativity is as much defined by the problem as by the capacity of the individual to connect things to resolve that problem in new and sometimes unexpected ways. Creativity can be stimulated via asking those open questions such as “what if” or “why not.” What fuels creativity? It is a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors: On one hand, we have the level of curiosity, desire to learn and natural ability to maintain an open and inquisitive mind, and on the other hand, we have the conditions of the environment in which we operate, with all the restrictions, the needs, the gaps and pressures that might push our creative minds to soar. When the good ideas have been captured and managed well, the creative process is converged with innovation management process, and further built into the core collective capability for solving the old and emergent problems.

Creativity appears to require two styles of thinking, "associative" and analytic: The “associative” or connecting the dots seems to be more perceptually based, related to the "aha" phenomenon and can be below conscious awareness, while the analytic thinking is more cognitively based and entails the logical thinking through the products of the associative process. Creativity is a high-level thinking because it evolves multiple thought processes. When you are on a higher plane of thinking you are not confined by walls. You may see others confined by it. That creativity in the human sense is not due to connecting of two shallow pools of knowledge, but the ability to make deep connections and build on those connections. Creativity is context - dependent. When you are wanting to come up with a creative solution to a challenge, an essential aspect of creativity is the ability to challenge assumptions, conclusions, and beliefs, and to be able to contemplate multiple, even conflicting views of a situation. Creativity is a higher level of thinking because it often imposes a higher cognitive load as you think 'harder' and consciously uses different kinds of thought actions and thinking tools like association, perspective shifting, opposites etc. Creativity happens with the great harmony of associative and analytics, conscious and subconscious.

Out- of- the-box-thinking keeps the creativity flowing: Great ideas only happen outside of the usual restraints. In today's competitive environment, what was outside the box yesterday, may not be such today. Our thinking has to continuously evolve, adapt, and prepare for changes. With increasing speed of changes, the exponential growth of information, and hyperconnected digital new normal, there are no such things as too much outside the box thinking, but it's also important to shape the newer and bigger box to stay focus. Think of creativity as going from divergent thinking (out-of-the-box) to convergent thinking where you filter or funnel down the ideas to those that make sense given your capabilities. The point is not to be unduly constrained in your thinking, but at the same time not to lose sight of the objective of thinking. Particularly, the box keeps changing. Often a problem is seen very differently by two different parties. By stepping outside your own box and getting into theirs, a solution becomes obvious, then get back in your own box and think how that solution will work for you. This method works particularly well with complex problems and the results can be surprising, two diametrically opposed parties sometimes end up working together on a solution that suits them both.

The collective creativity has its own dynamic and flux: Creativity can be manifested in a collective environment. While the individual contributions perhaps provide the 'building blocks,' it is the collective consensus on what to do with them that is exciting. The collective creativity is not just a sum of creative pieces; but a more meaningful achievement for problem-solving, continuous improvement or breakthrough innovation. It builds up a momentum that draws creative contributions from the participants that they did not previously conceive or understood they were capable of. It is not just a mere cumulation of the creative inputs of those involved. It is also not only a synchronization of their individual inputs to make something that no one individual would achieve. It is more than that. It has its own dynamic which is in a state of constant flux. The collective creativity is amplified via human interactions, emotional intelligence, transparency of management, staff engagement, recognition of effort and an optimized process flow.

Creativity is a flow, an abstract and an imagination. The root of our differences is in the different perceptions and the lenses we use, which we have with respect to creativity or innovations. You can put creativity in a box and say it's "all just creativity," or you can pull it out of the box and look at it through different lenses. Creativity has many faces and creatives need a problem to solve.


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