Creativity Is the Edge
By Eric Wright, Sept. 2012
Next to courage, the most essential ingredient in nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit has to be creativity. We have a myriad of terms for it – innovation, originality, ingenuity, thinking outside of the box, etc. – but often creativity is simpler than you might imagine.
Bernice Fitz-Gibbon observed, “Creativity often consists of merely turning up what is already there. Did you know that right and left shoes were thought up only a little more than a century ago?” It’s true; the boots issued to soldiers in the American Civil War could fit on either foot!
The Key to Every Door
Creativity isn’t just the domain of artists and innovators – it is what makes going to work fun; it causes education to be engaging and a nice meal to be enjoyable. It also gives a business its competitive edge. Edward de Bono said, “Creativity is a great motivator because it makes people interested in what they are doing. Creativity gives hope that there can be a worthwhile idea. Creativity gives the possibility of some sort of achievement to everyone. Creativity makes life more fun and more interesting.”
Perhaps one of the primary hindrances to creativity is our assumptions about what produces it. Victoria Dzenis wrote in Fast Money, “Innovation is a discipline that can (and should) be planned, measured and managed. If left to chance, it won’t happen.” Then she added, “Everyone has the power to innovate by letting their brain wander, explore, connect, and see the world differently. The problem is that we’re all running so fast that we fail to make time for the activities that allow our brains to see patterns and make connections. Such as pausing and wondering…. what if?”
Get Off the Couch
Experts tell us that by asking questions our brain automatically engages in a process that attempts to answer the question, find a solution or come to closure. According to an article in Newsweek, “The new view is that creativity is part of normal brain function.” The secret to creativity seems to be asking questions that open people to possibilities, new ways of looking at the same information and new interpretations of existing data.
If that’s the case why aren’t we all more creative? As we pointed out earlier, being creative takes time, focus and energy. Consultant Dennis Kelley observed, “There are many possible solutions to every problem. Most people go with the first plausible one that comes up and they miss the value of thinking longer and finding more effective answers.” I think that is a polite way of saying we’re too lazy.
From Creativity to Innovation
Creativity, however, is just the first step in the process. If the stream of creativity is going to continue to flow towards innovation, implementation is crucial. Dzenis concluded, “New ideas are a dime a dozen. The hard part is turning those ideas into new products and services that customers value and are willing to pay for.”
“In business, innovation is the act of applying knowledge, new or old, to the creation of new processes, products, and services that have value for at least one of your stakeholder groups. The key word here is applying. Generating creative ideas is certainly part of the process. But true innovation requires that you actually
do something different that has value.”
Since everything began with a Creator, creativity is as fundamental to our progress as the actions it inspires. Scott Adams, creator of the comic strip “Dilbert,” said, “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”