In this post, I want to talk briefly about creativity and why it is an important part of our lives. There is a lot of literature on creativity, but I want to focus on 3 areas: identifying and nurturing creativity in your own work, how you can nurture the creativity of others, and how you can use your own creativity and the creativity of others to create something new.
If you’re like me, you have probably heard people say things like “creativity is just a matter of seeing things differently” or “letting go is the best way to bring out your creative spark” or “what’s really creative isn’t that different from what everybody else does.” All of these statements assume that there is a universal standard for what it means to be creative or that there is a single way to discover one.
Most people are familiar with the idea of creativity. But few of us can easily define it. For some, creativity is seen as an innate quality. For others, creativity is a skill that can be learned and honed. This blog will explore some of the different definitions of creativity and try to come up with some tips on how to nurture creativity in your business. There are two types of creativity:
- The creative impulse that arises spontaneously from inside us, in a moment of inspiration or illumination, and is directed towards a specific goal.
- The creative impulse that we use to generate material and information, which directly influences the way our minds work in order to achieve some goal.
What is Creativity?
For the last century, creativity has been defined as an important aspect of innovation, but there’s a lot of misunderstanding around what it is and how you can cultivate it. In fact, creativity was something that was blatantly missing entirely from the definition of innovation itself. The phrase “innovation” means many things, but most commonly it means:
- a new product or service that disrupts existing markets
- a new market you can enter into
- an approach to a problem that could be solved by someone else
- a novel way to think about an old problem
- deep internal innovation with no external input.
Does it matter?
The question itself is simple: if you want to get things done, you should make sure that your work comes from within you. It’s hard enough to be productive with others — let alone when you are working alone. But even more importantly, there’s nothing more powerful than coming up with your own ideas and coming up with work that has real value for the customer.
Creativity is not something we can learn or cultivate — it is inborn and almost always comes naturally to us. It’s not something we can force or force-feed; it cannot be taught and cannot be forced into being. In fact, it is so inherent that some people seem better at it than others: some authors are better writers because they have a natural gift for language; others are better photographers because they can see more clearly; some musicians have a natural ear for music; others play an instrument only because their parents insisted that they do so as soon as possible (or when their friends were around).
All these examples illustrate one thing — creativity doesn’t happen in isolation from us and from other people around us. It happens only through interactions with other people. We all have our own strengths when interacting with other people — but what about our weaknesses? What about those things which undermine creativity?
That’s where this post comes in: it attempts to answer questions like these: what are strong areas of weakness? What specifically does lack of creativity cost us? And most importantly, how can we get creative in those areas where we would otherwise feel creative fatigue? A lot of the answers come through discussions and interactions with other people online, but some things just fall into place based on observation and experience: overall lack of interaction between different kinds of innovation teams and departments leads to general lack of creativity; individuals who lead groups don’t always follow each other’s lead (despite being encouraged to do so) leads to general lack of creativity; open communication leads to general lack of creativity; small groups (usually working on a single thing
How to nurture your creativity
“How do you nurture creativity?” is a question that has been asked by people all over the world, but I think it is one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves.
It is the question that will determine whether we have success as an organization or not and indirectly determines if we can continue to grow and develop our product. We may be able to afford more expensive tools like Photoshop or 3D modeling software and hire more technical people with more expertise, but if we can’t find people who are willing to put in those extra hours on their creativity, then our product won’t get any better. In fact, too many people only think about the time they spend on their creativity rather than whether it actually moves us forward in any meaningful way towards our goals.
Many people are good at creating products, and many people are bad at it. Some people have trouble dreaming up ideas. Others can’t think of a thing, once they’ve written one down. So what is it that makes creative people tick? Can we, as designers and developers, help create more creative people?
Is creativity intrinsic or extrinsic? People are born with creativity or not? There are both similarities and differences between the two: intrinsic vs. extrinsic.
Extrinsic creativity comes from our innate ability to imagine things or make them come to life in our minds; is it something we “just” have or does it come from the brain itself? We don’t know for sure, but we do know that certain parts of our brains are involved in these processes—and these parts seem to work differently in different people—so maybe there is some kind of neural circuit regulating our ability to be creative.
Intrinsic creativity is a bit more vague concept: you can argue that creative thinking comes from inside us (the brain), but we can also argue that being creative is a skill that can be learned too–that the brain itself can develop this ability via neural pathways (much the same way you learn how to play an instrument by playing scales).
But what is really important here is not whether someone has innate talent—which depends on many factors—but whether they have something inside them which helps them draw on their innate talents when they need them–and also when they don’t need to use these talents because doing so would be detrimental to their own well-being–that is, when they’re not needed for survival or for solving real problems.
So what does this have to do with our work? I think it has everything to do with how we view the work we do from an intrinsic (or self-motivated) perspective rather than an extrinsic (or external) one. We often feel bad about ourselves when we get things wrong — we ruminate (and usually fret) over whether it was our fault they didn’t work out, whether they were too difficult or weren’t done right — so we tend not to view the process …
But if you look at your own work as if it was intrinsically motivated by something other than money, status or accolades — if your job had intrinsic value — then you will be more likely to let go and embrace spontaneity when it comes time to put out that next idea: “you don’t have enough money in the bank right now; now is not the time for financial pressure. Instead, let yourself go where you feel most alive.
Let loose! Create! You are only here because others gave up on you; release them from their chains! Now go outside yourself and see what inspires you! Go beyond yourself! What else can inspire? What else can inspire in others? What else will inspire us all? That which makes us unique! That which makes us unique…