„Creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.” ~ Sir Ken Robinson
Writing code is a synonym for building, for creating. Code contains the bricks the future is made of. You let your mind develop incredible tools. This entails a level of creativity which is not found in another field, or at least not in a similar format.
Creativity is the ability to turn imagined ideas into practice. Creativity consists of the ability to perceive the world in different ways, of being able to identify hidden patterns, of making connections among apparently unrelated phenomena, and, last but not least, of solving problems by generating and implementing solutions.
Creativity goes hand in hand with innovation. Both require imagination and discipline. Everything that was ever created around us first existed in someone's imagination.
No innovation is possible in the absence of creativity. Innovation actually refers to implementing a new or improved product, service or process, which brings added value to a business, an institution or to society as a whole. The key performance indicator for both creativity and innovation is the generated value.
Researchers in the fields of behavioral sciences even talk about the "innovators' DNA". The ability to generate innovative ideas is not solely a mind function. It depends on five key behaviors which optimize the brain for discovery. In The Innovator's DNA, Clayton M. Christensen describes these behaviors, enumerated briefly below:
Association: connecting questions, problems or ideas from seemingly unrelated fields.
Inquiry: asking questions which trigger common understanding or knowledge.
Observation: examining the behavior of customers, suppliers and competitors to identify new ways of doing things.
Relationship: interacting with people who have different ideas and different perspectives.
Creativity is not talent; it is a way of doing things. It is not a hobby; it is a way of life. Creativity is a way of establishing new connections and of finding solutions. In spite of all this, discouraging creativity is widely spread.
To live a creative life means to live a courageous life. It is the courage to express yourself in non-standard ways; the courage to explore; the courage to put yourself out there as you are; the courage to be vulnerable, confuse (sometimes), contested, gossiped about; the courage to move on, to listen and to express only what some people understand; the courage to make mistakes and start fresh; the courage to start fresh, to change and to shine. Seen from this perspective, creativity is a form of resilience.
We praise creativity, we look for it everywhere, but we rarely recognize it. The creativity that we so long for, that we so much praise, scares us when it becomes manifest, when we notice it in our case or in other people, because it brings about chaos and uncertainty. To live one's creativity, one needs courage, clarity and the power to stand for their beliefs.
It is worth understanding creativity to understand ourselves and the others, to understand the creative people around us, the ones we live and work with.
First, to be creative does not necessarily mean to be an artist. It happened to me several times. For example when telling someone how much I enjoy working with creative people, I was told: "Oh, yes, the artists." It is not necessarily the artists, it is rarely the artists. It's rather about working with engineers, developers, doctors, teachers, therapists and entrepreneurs. Out of the 45 respondents to a quick Facebook survey, only 5 mentioned something other than artist/painter/writer/actor as an answer to the question "What job/skill/trade comes to mind when we talk about creativity?".
Creativity is a hallmark of all people from all fields and all walks of life (professional environments, relational environments etc.). In technical fields, creativity is a source of innovation. In economic fields, creative destruction is one of the models of economic development.
Creative people find solutions due to their ability to make unexpected associations among concepts, words, tools, technologies, methods, domains and situations. Quite often, these associations are not obvious to other people as well, and, out of these, some can be brilliant, life-saving, while others can be irrelevant or meaningless. We can therefore imagine the challenges creative people have. Creative people can be perceived as being weird, awkward, incoherent, slow, superficial, not serious or professional enough, a person who merely passes judgments and lacks the necessary rigor. This happens if the person is not acknowledged as being creative and valued as a result.
Since creativity often requires solitude, creative people can be perceived as being withdrawn, uninvolved, arrogant and unsociable. If the person also has the habit of coming up with new, strange ideas, they will first manage to confuse and irritate others who perform things according to methodologies which are set in stone. Creative people are also in the good habit of being preoccupied by more things at once, often from different fields. They are involved in more than one project and have more than one job. For this reason, some label them as being undecided, unprofessional or shallow. Others suspiciously admire their dynamic nature and their ease.
People who manifest their creativity work more intensely because they are passionate about what they do.
This is the reason why it is so important to have a courageous organizational culture which understands and fosters creativity. This is why we need to understand creative people and their role in the way teams, departments, organizations, communities and societies work.
Sir Ken Robinson, expert in education sciences and reputed international leader in the development of creativity, innovation and human resources, claims that, to be successful and competitive in this new millennium (in the post-revolution, informational era) we must make creativity equally important to learning the alphabet.
The very same idea is expressed by company managers in various ways: creativity is the crucial factor to succeed in today's context and in future contexts.
In 2012 Adobe published a global study on creativity. 5000 adults where interviewed in the USA, Great Britain, Germany, France and Japan. The piece of research shows that 8 out of 10 people believe than unleashing creativity is essential for economic growth. Almost two thirds of the respondents interpret creativity as being valuable for society. And yet, only one in four people believes to live their life enjoying their full creative potential.
Are you living your creative potential to its fullest?
Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, Clayton M. Christensen, *The Innovator's DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators*, HBR Press, July, 2011
Sir Ken Robinson, Do schools kill creativity? TED Talk, 2006