Stepping back: What is creativity anyway?

Wed, Sep 9, 2009

Blogs, Fearless Creativity

Stepping back: What is creativity anyway?

“Creativity is a mental and social process involving the generation of new ideas or concepts, or new associations of the creative mind between existing ideas or concepts. Creativity is fueled by the process of either conscious or unconscious insight. An alternative conception of creativeness is that it is simply the act of making something new.”

Above is the definition of creativity found in Wikipedia. It’s a good one in my opinion.

The word Creativity has become part of our business lexicon. It’s overused and misused. So much so that there is a cloud of vagueness that surrounds its meaning. Creativity has become scary since all the business leaders say we must be creative or die trying. What does that mean exactly? Who are these new ideas new to anyway?

Creativity is a noun that describes or represents the ability to be creative. Yet, we can’t hold it in our hands; you can’t pick up a piece of creativity or be a creativities collector.

Creativity is most evident in the visual or performing arts because we tend to look at those things as something the rest of us can’t do. They involve skills; they have craft. Arts are tangible things that we can point to, call creativity, and everyone agrees – yes – that is creativity. Yet, it’s not always innovative.

Creativity is personal. We make new associations from our thoughts and experiences. Children are massively creative because they are forging newness every day. Yet later in life, what once felt creative fails to inspire. Nope, it’s too derivative – I’m borrowing from myself – seen this, done that.

Additionally, being derivative can mean borrowing from someone else. It can be argued that everything is derivative but borrowing way too much is plagiarism and nothing about that is interesting. In varying degrees, derivative creations are very useful and make up most of what we call new. We buy and sell derivatives every minute – they can be harvested like feed corn.

Eureka! Innovation is creativity that everyone else will see as new. It’s no longer just personal. Innovation is what many business experts imply when they say “creativity”. An innovation is something you can hear, hold, smell or see; it’s tangible. It’s simpler to appreciate how innovations affect a business or society even if it’s not always obvious upon first reveal.

When business leaders say they need creativity, they really mean they need ideas whose outcomes move the needle in a changing market landscape – creative or not, derivative or not.

Creativity leads to innovation if you’re lucky or good – and we all know which the better of the two is. There are no innovations without being creative but creativity isn’t an end. Business leaders aren’t really asking for creativity, they’re asking for innovative solutions.

You are creative without being innovative. Everyone is creative. Creative people are a commodity. It’s how we live, it’s what we do. It’s probably even why we live – yet – that will take some very innovative thinking to prove.

Art, creative, Creativity, Innovation, Performing Arts, Visual Arts

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