Creativity is so inherent to human beings it’s often an unconscious reaction. Our mistake is to insist on focussing on art whenever anyone mentioned the word.
The result of this denial is our highly industrial, technological and increasingly uniform world. Creativity is how we as individuals navigate our world, coming up with solutions, solving problems, learning and growing. All of this involves large degrees of creativity. The insistence that creativity is a maverick talent that few have is the same as insisting that only a doctor can tell you what is wrong with you when you are ill… it is a total surrender of control over your environment, your destiny and your happiness.
The industrial age is long over. So too should be the demand for an endless row of robot humans doing highly compartmentalised tasks with no understanding or thought to the greater web that connects each task. We now live in the information age and the currency of this age is IDEAS and thanks to our education system and a culture of creativity denialism, we are ill-equipped to navigate it… as individuals and as teams, businesses and cultures.
The newest entrants into our labour markets are a generation of humans who demand purpose and meaning from their work. Drone assembly work just isn’t for them. But what frameworks have we built to facilitate this? Very little. The Boomers and the Gen Xers are still firmly holding the wheel and insisting on conformity. It’s what keeps us safe, we think.
But for humans to thrive and survive the various political, ecological and economic storms of this age, we need to change the way we think. After all, you cannot solve problems with the same kind of thinking that created them in the first place, can you?
Businesses around the world are waking up to the idea that happiness and diversity are key factors to keep employees focussed, productive and loyal. Yet they still insist on total control and a hierarchy of ideation that excludes the majority of workers from interfacing with ideas, future storming or just plain problem-solving.
Studies have identified autonomy and a sense of competence as two of the biggest factors that drive happiness and a sense of purpose and achievement at work… and its true of home life as well. And yet, most of us do not feel free to make decisions, to solve problems, to join the dots and sketch a new picture. First, it must go through those who know, then those who can decide and then those who will pay. By the time this has all happened, the moment is lost, someone else has stepped into the breach and the person who came up with the idea has left to do something else.
The current pace of change brought about by technology on our society is so fast that none of the assumptions of yesterday can be trusted. Anyone wanting to get ahead of the curve, innovate, disrupt or just own a market slice, needs to be way ahead of the curve, thinking out of the box that this box came in and frankly, breaking all the rules. Because if you’re just looking at your competition for clues, you’ve already lost the race.
The change to a more creative, flexible way of seeing the world is fundamentally linked to sustainability as a practice. One of the shortcomings of our current economic and political situation is its short-term, reactive nature: we live from financial quarter to financial quarter, from election to election. No-one is looking beyond these short terms and asking the big questions and joining and rejoining the dots in new, disturbing ways to find alternatives that are just not possible under the current status quo.
Creativity and only creativity will give us the power to have that kind of impact on the future of humanity: in medicine, science, politics, art, society, finance and more… what is needed is not more rigid thinking, but far more flexible approaches and a mindset that fundamentally agrees that rules are meant to be bent, blended and broken in order to unlock the secrets of how things work and discover or make new alternatives.
We need to be focused on a diversity of thoughts, inputs and perspectives, not on yes-men and compliers. If we do not, not only will large businesses fail, but the creative industries too. Where is the creative education that underpins the art, literature, film, theatre and performance industries? Wished away by governments focussed on big business who forget how large a slice of the GDP comes from music, movies, theatre and art.
A focus on creativity isn’t about better business, a happier, more fulfilled life or even more art. It’s about reclaiming our identity. Without creativity, intelligence is worth nothing. What makes us human is our ability to make what is imagined real through our creativity. Own it, seize it, demand it.
5 Steps to take Right now to increase Creativity and ideas generation in your life or your business:
1) Leave time in every day to relax and consider the options you have: don’t force it, in a slightly disconnected yet content way, contemplate your situation/challenges. Make the time.
2) Observe everything carefully, notice the details
3) Don’t be too ambitious:
BEND existing ideas to new purposes
BLEND two existing ideas to create a new one
BREAK existing answers into their parts and add different pieces, or put them together in a new order
4) Update your definition of Creativity
Modern thinkers differentiate between
We tend to focus on Big C, but lots and lots of Little C gains can add up to a significant increase in creative activity. Set yourself or your people free to make the small creative steps that make up every big creative leap
5) Take creativity out of the studio basement and place it front and centre in your life. Use it, grow it, become it.