What is creativity? And why do some people seem more creative than others?
Creativity is inherent in all of us. Just watch any young kids when they play.
Christmas is always an interesting time to observe this – kids will play with their new, shiny, expensive toy. But only for a little while and their interest soon wanes as the creative potential of the toy dries up. Often, they’ll find more excitement within their own imagination and end up with the boxes that the toys came in, which have endless potential to be a castle, a house, a hospital, a hat, a hiding place etc. etc. etc.
So what happens when we grow up?
Well, at least two things:
Unlike our child selves, we become afraid of what people may think of our ideas or actions, through assumptions borne of societal and environmental factors. This is amplified in a workplace setting when we have the opinions of bosses, clients and teammates to consider. People whose opinion really matters to us (and maybe our careers).
We begin to define and perceive creativity in a certain way. Usually, this is based on how skilled someone is at either communicating their ideas in an effective and compelling way or turning them into something tangible and real, or both. Just because you don’t have the fine motor skills to draw, code, design etc. doesn’t mean you don’t have ideas, and shouldn’t mean that you’ve lost the creativity you had as a kid.
The most effective creative skill to craft, as an adult, is your ability to communicate your ideas, after all, communication of ideas is inextricably linked to having ideas.
The more you communicate your ideas the more you’ll see which ones attract other like-minded people and which ones sounded better in your head. This taps into our child mindset, as can be seen in the now-famous marshmallow experiment (here), where children just build, create and evolve with little regard for what the final output might be. This leads to a fluid, iterative and instant feedback driven design process that leads to kindergarten students being outperformed only by engineers (and CEOs, but only if supported by EAs).
So, how do organisations unlock the creative ideas within their people, develop their ability to express them, and provide a channel to bring them to life? Here are three fundamental ways we co-design with our clients:
Through various means, such as conferences, co-design workshops, team coaching and individual coaching, we encourage people to verbalise an idea or ideas for testing. Not something ‘perfect’, just something to test. By re-framing the output of creativity, people allow themselves to broaden their horizons in the knowledge that their ideas are valuable either way. If they’re successful through testing, great, if they’re not, there’s just as much learning to be taken from that.
2_ People, not job titles
Research has shown time and time again that labels are limiting. Whether hair colour, race or job titles, the perception attached to it can define what you are and therefore what you are not. Your job title might indicate your skills (and this is important) but it is no measure of your potential. And creativity should be everyone’s job.
We provide the skillset and expertise required to turn creative ideas into something tangible that can be used to communicate - a film, an image, a prototype. There is nothing quite as liberating in someone who doesn’t perceive themselves to be creative, as seeing their ideas come to life.
“A good idea expressed poorly looks a lot like a poor idea.”
So back to our question ‘what is creativity’?
It is letting go of barriers and opening up possibilities.
It’s about grabbing your cardboard box and making it a castle, a house, a hospital, a hat or a hiding place. About ripping off flaps, cutting out holes and drawing on it with a marker pen to make it into something new. But the tricky adult step it how you share it with others and make them a believer.