In his book, The Creative Curve, Allen Gannett identifies an interesting phenomenon: the existence of a creative community around people who are creative successes: inventors, entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, scientists etc.

What his research uncovers is that these people all have loosely the same KIND of community around them. Gannet identifies four pillars:

  •                Master Teacher
  •                Conflicting collaborator
  •                Modern Muse
  •                Prominent Promote

Apart from the specifics of each role, what is really interesting about this idea is the notion that Creativity is something that can be supported by others. Traditionally, we view creativity as something inherent.

But since the 60’ when Mel Rhodes formulated the 4 Ps (Person, Product, Process, Place) there has been an understanding of how important the environment (Press) is for creative skills and thought. Gannett supplies a research-driven analysis of what needs to be in the environment in order to support on-going creativity.

The Master Teacher ties neatly into modern notions of life-long learning. The truth is that, as technology continues to develop at a lightning pace, we have no choice but to commit to life-long learning. However, as a master teacher is more like a source, a person or a library, that continuously invites and challenges us to learn and to grow. For creativity, this is hugely important. If we understand the creative act as essentially joining the dots, it makes sense that, the more dots we assemble, the more connections we can make.

The Conflicting Collaborator also ties neatly into a current business idea: diversity. Yes-men, groupthink and linear understandings are predictable, limited and limiting. In order to escape these pitfalls, it is important to cultivate a peer group, friends and/or colleagues that challenge and question what you do… not because they hate it, but because they want the best.

The Modern Muse is open to far broader interpretations. I prefer to think of it as being in direct contact with your personal WHY, your real, deep motivations for doing things. Not money but WHY you want the money. The inspiration for this can be provided by another person but it is something that needs to come from deep within. When our motivations are external or extrinsic, we runt he risk of meeting them and being left with the question, ‘What now?’ and this question reveals that what we had were goals, not the actual purpose. The modern muse requires us to connect with purpose.

The Prominent Promoter is mirrored by many constructs: your manager, your CEO. But they don’t have to work in the same company as you. A prominent promoter is someone who goes out into the world and tells everyone else how great you are, and how much they should definitely be working with you. This support can take many forms. I realise that I have never had a prominent promoter. It takes some planning to identify and connect with one.

Creativity is what allows us to add value in business, to solve problems in life and come up with the ideas that can revolutionise our world. But all too often, our appreciation of this ability is too one dimensional. A better understanding of the 4Ps and Gannett’s Creative Communities can free us up to be more directly connected with creatively, and to act with it in concrete, visible ways.