Dosing up: creativity pills or Jack?

In the corporate and education world, our problem isn’t lack of creativity – it is a lack of valuing the process.

Innovations are happening so rapidly due to the compounding nature of technology. Once upon a time, before the horseless carriage was an option for transportation, people didn’t see a lot of change and certainly not at the speed that we are exposed to today. In fact, after the motorcar were invented, people wondered why on earth they needed this new contraption when a horse and carriage work perfectly fine thank you very much (Robinson 2011). Today the story is quite different.  If ideas don’t come speedily enough or prove more valuable than the last, this somehow equates to not being creative. So what is the solution? Well creativity classes of course. Naturally.

Strategising and brainstorming in workshops, programs, group work, vitamin D, E, A, and niacin. Oh sorry, I thought we were talking about supplementation.

Supplementation is designed to assist a healthy diet just as creativity classes should assist a healthy creative process. I am afraid all the hype behind crash courses in creativity will teach our children these are the only environments and conditions in which the creative process can be accessed. What happened to learning how to ask questions? Be inquisitive? Oh that’s right, education! So now adults are learning creativity at work as an afterthought.

The process of creativity involves spontaneity, hypothesising, pleasure, senses, fun, excitement, meaning, silliness, humour, connections, associations, questions, sadness, the grotesque and beauty and that is just the tip of the iceberg in the unlimited sea of ‘making new’.

I actually agree with Tina Seelig, Executive Director, Stanford Technology Ventures Program who runs courses in creativity and innovation, when she said “all really good learning is experiential”. What I would like to add however is that creativity needs to be a part of our everyday living, not just in the crash courses.

So I reiterate my opening statement. Our problem isn’t lack of creativity but not understanding the value of its process. If these courses can bring our attention back to the creative process then I am on board. I want one where I can be silly. I love being silly. Is there any out there that foster silliness? Sorry, just being silly.

Seriously now, my advice (which will be substantiated), continue to learn the guitar even though your son can play better than you, write that song even though you’re tone deaf, make that tree house and don’t worry that you have never used a power tool before (hello …. youtube). Continue to study insects, knit blankets, learn to code, develop new recipes, buy that bright jacket you wouldn’t normally wear and write that novel even when it seems hopeless and a personal one to me – draw and be silly.

Think I’m just pulling this from thin air? Well Shalley (2008) suggested “if managers would like their employees to be more creative, to undertake creative activities. A major way to do this is by creating role expectations either by setting goals or making creative activity a job requirement” (p. 160).

As for me, I’ll pass on the pills and continue to be a Jack of all trades and a master of none. That will be my specialty.

Before I go, I know if you have read this I have already taken up a great deal of your time. BUT! This TED presentation from Benjamin Zander is wonderful, engaging, entertaining, funny and uplifting. Watch it! One of the best I have seen. Oh and it has Chopin in it.

References:
Robinson, Ken. 2011. Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative. United Kingdon: Capstone Publishing Ltd.
Shalley, CE. 2008. Creating Roles: What Managers can do to Establish Expectations for Creative Performance. In Zhou & Shalley, pp. 147-64.

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2 thoughts on “Dosing up: creativity pills or Jack?

  1. Nicely said! I think the saddest thing is that children are inquisitive and information-seeking by nature, but schools and many adults tell them not to be, or teach them not to be by creating environments that thwart their creative ambitions.
    We wouldn’t have to teach children or adults to be creative and silly 😉 if we wouldn’t go out of our way to unteach it first. It is often a long and difficult process to re-learn it as an adult, to regain the sense of wonder and the fun of experimenting that comes natural to children. But I think it is indeed worth it!

    1. I know, even as a mum of 3 young boys I find it hard to not contradict myself in what I teach them since society in general is geared around conventionality and stability.

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