What is Creativity?

"Creativity is marked by the ability or power to create-to bring into existence, to invest with a new form, to produce through imaginative skill, to make or bring into existence something new." 
- Webster

"A product is creative when it is (a) novel and (b) appropriate. A novel product is original not predictable. The bigger the concept, and the more the product stimulates further work and ideas, the more the product is creative."
- Sternberg & Lubart, Defying the Crowd

"Creativity is the process of bringing something new into being...creativity requires passion and commitment. Out of the creative act is born symbols and myths. It brings to our awareness what was previously hidden and points to new life. The experience is one of heightened consciousness-ecstasy." - Rollo May, The Courage to Create

Creativity has two parts: thinking, then producing. Innovation is embedded in the creative process. It is the implementation of creative inspiration. -Linda Naiman(Peopletalk Magazine Spring 2004)

What is Innovation?

The dictionary defines innovation as the introduction of something new or different. Innovation is the implementation of creative inspiration.

The National Innovation Initiative TM (NII) defines innovation as "The intersection of invention and insight, leading to the creation of social and economic value."

Innovation is fostered by information gathered from new connections; from insights gained by journeys into other disciplines or places; from active, collegial networks and fluid, open boundaries. Innovation arises from ongoing circles of exchange, where information is not just accumulated or stored, but created. Knowledge is generated anew from connections that weren't there before. 
-Margaret J. Wheatley

Innovation requires a fresh way of looking at things, an understanding of people, and an entrepreneurial willingness to take risks and to work hard. An idea doesn't become an innovation until it is widely adopted and incorporated into people's daily lives. Most people resist change, so a key part of innovating is convincing other people that your idea is a good one - by enlisting their help, and, in doing so, by helping them see the usefulness of the idea. 
- Art Fry (Inventor of 3M post-it notes)

Myths about Genius

Beliefs that only special, talented people are creative-and you have to be born that way- diminish our confidence in our creative abilities. The notion that geniuses such as Shakespeare, Picasso and Mozart were `gifted' is a myth, according to a recent study at Exeter University. Researchers examined outstanding performances in the arts, mathematics and sports, to find out if "the widespread belief that to reach high levels of ability a person must possess an innate potential called talent."

The study concludes that excellence is determined by:

  • opportunities
 & most of all-practise.

"Few showed early signs of promise prior to parental encouragement." No one reached high levels of achievement in their field without devoting thousands of hours of serious training. Mozart trained for 16 years before he produced an acknowledged master work. Moreover many high performers achieve levels of excellence today that match the capabilities of a Mozart, or a Gold Medallist from the turn of the century. (The Vancouver Sun, Sept.12/98)

Psychological Perspective

"Behavior is generative; like the surface of a fast flowing river, it is inherently and continuously novel... behavior flows and it never stops changing. Novel behavior is generated continuously, but it is labeled creative only when it has some special value to the community... Generativity is the basic process that drives all the behavior we come to label creative." - Robert Epstein PhD, Psychology Today July/Aug 1996

• Generative research shows that everyone has creative abilities. The more training you have and the more diverse the training, the greater potential for creative output.

• The average adult thinks of 3-6 alternatives for any given situation.

• The average child thinks of 60.

• Research has shown that in creativity quantity equals quality.

• The longer the list of ideas, the higher the quality the final solution. The highest quality ideas appear at the end of the list.

• Creativity is an individual process. Traditional brainstorming has been proven ineffective because of fear of social disapproval.

• Groups are best for idea selection rather than idea generation.

 The Age of Creativity

The Nomura Institute of Japan classifies four eras of economic activity:

1. Agricultural

2. Industrial

3.Informational and now through the evolution of technology

4. Creative: constant innovation.

Daniel Pink expands on this idea in A Whole New Mind (2005):

"Logical and precise, left-brain thinking gave us the Information Age. Now comes the Conceptual Age - ruled by artistry, empathy, and emotion."

 See also

The Transformative Power of Art by Linda Naiman

Creative Alliances - The interplay between arts and business
Artful Creation by Lotte Darsø

Artful Making: Why Managing Innovation is Like Theater,
by Robert D. Austin and Lee Devin

The Art of Possibility by Ben and Rosamund Zander

Xerox PARC: Collaboration at the Intersection of Art and Science
An interview with John Seely Brown

 Innovation at Hewlett-Packard

Carly Fiorona, CEO Hewlett-Packard:

Invention -- which is at the heart and soul of what HP has been about and must continue to be about -- invention depends fundamentally on creativity. And creativity, I believe, springs from a diverse group of people talking about the possibilities. And when I say diverse I mean people who look different, people who think differently, people who have different backgrounds, people who have different skills, people who have different styles. I believe diversity is critical to creativity. And I believe creativity is at the foundation of invention. And so we must include everyone. It is at the heart of our success going forward.

HP's philosophy for fostering an environment for creativity and innovation:

Rules of the garage:

Believe you can change the world.
Work quickly, keep the tools unlocked, work whenever.
Know when to work alone and when to work together.
Share - tools, ideas. Trust your colleagues.
No politics. No bureaucracy. (These are ridiculous in a garage.)
The customer defines a job well done.
Radical ideas are not bad ideas.
Invent different ways of working.
Make a contribution every day. If it doesn't contribute, it doesn't leave the garage.
Believe that together we can do anything.
~1999 HP Annual Report

Business is a creative activity

If we are to thrive in business we must be creative. Business is a creative activity. Success in business today demands constant innovation. Generating fresh solutions to problems, and the ability to invent new products or services for a changing market, are part of the intellectual capital that give a company its competitive edge.

In a world of change, success comes from looking for the next opportunity and having the ability to find hidden connections and insights into new products or services, desired by the customer. Developing the radar to spot an opportunity, takes creativity.

While brain power is our most valuable resource, great ideas are in short supply. Fortune 500 companies now place a premium on attracting and keeping talent because wealth flows directly from innovation.

Creativity is the root of innovation. It is a process and a skill which can be developed and managed throughout the entire organization.


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