Friday, 20 July 2012

What makes you creative? Part I

Some individuals are incredibly creative and artistic.  Some are more logical and practical.  You know both types of people.  At school, you had the nerds and geeks, who knew the answers to all the maths and science questions in class and received A-grades in every subject.  Apart from… art and English, and some of the other humanities subjects perhaps? 

Those who excelled in the arts wowed you with the vividness of their paintings, the accuracy of their drawings, the imaginative stories that they wrote so quickly and effortlessly, generally struggled to scrape C-grades in the maths and sciences.

In the office, you can distinguish between the arty-types and the boffins.  Your imaginative, inventive colleagues will regularly propose interesting and innovative projects to work on, niche areas of the industry to explore.  They can even defend and develop their ideas should you query and question them.  In line with Guildford’s model of creative ability (Guildford, 1950), this individual comes up with several ideas (‘fluency’), of many different types (‘flexibility’), and these are sometimes unusual (‘originality’), but the thinker can develop them (‘elaboration’).

A colleague of mine fits this model perfectly, but when I ask him to implement his ideas, he often fails to deliver the most practical, efficient and organised methods of achieving his goals.  As the casual process model of creativity (Basadur, Runco, & Vega, 2000) points out, creativity isn’t simply about producing ideas.  One has to source good problems, solve them and implement the most appropriate solutions. 

Writers, in my opinion, are able to generate interesting ideas and discover the best methods of making them work.  We think up intriguing characters, epic scenes, even create a whole new world of make-believe, but we still treat our ideas as problems to solve.  Scrutinise them from every angle.  Predict and prevent future complications.  The most talented and successful authors however, take one good idea, find all the problems that are likely to arise from utilising it, resolve these issues and in doing so, they generate a whole new string of ideas to build on, explore, and in turn making that first good idea even better than when it started.

Read the second part of this post here.

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