Creativity is the biggest differentiator of an organization, because it ensures continued innovation. If you are not creative, this is bad news for you.
The good news is: Creativity and innovation can be learned. Basically, the creative process is the same as any learning process; decision making process or problem solving process.
What is creativity?
Creativity and innovation are closely related, but yet distinct concepts. While the concept of creativity produces extraordinary results, the concept of innovation actually leads to purposeful novel results with a certain degree of deviance from the status quo. The necessary skills for creativity are integration and differentiation of frameworks, methods and tools, combined with a learner mentality.
Recently, the agile movement as well as design thinking methods have put a strong emphasis on contextual aspects of creative work, like “safe space” or “non judgmental” environments. While theses aspects are true and important, they miss half of the problem. The other side of the problem lies within the individual and has the following three aspects:
- level of intensity of thinking, feeling and acting
- level of integration between thinking, feeling and acting structures necessary for flow
- level of tension that decrease flow
Creativity is often referred to as “thinking outside the box.” But what is exactly inside and outside the box? We have visualized the boundaries of creativity in the illustrations below.
Normal thinking has the potential range between “right” and “wrong”, normal feelings range between “hope” and “fear”, and normal behavior ranges from “buy in” to “check out.” If creativity is outside these normally observed phenomena, it is not different, just more intense in thinking, feeling and acting.
Our research studied the most creative people, the people with special or extreme abilities in thinking, feeling and acting, in an attempt to disclose the full range of creative possibilities or responses in a problem solving situation. This meant to integrate state of the art knowledge about highly sensitive persons, borderline, bi-polar and autistic personality and mood characteristics, very common in all creative professions including writing, acting, performance and fine arts.
Prerequisites for creativity
Creativity is not only the skill of managing extremes in thinking, feeling and acting, but much more a state of being, precisely the state of “flow.” The concept of flow has been described in other places in detail, so we will focus here on the the aspect of flow in integrated structures necessary for general problem solving.
The necessary flows are first, information flows in our our thinking structures, emotional flows in our feeling structures, and energy flow in our acting structures. To have 100% creative ability, all structures need to be fully integrated to have flow ability, and all flows must be able to flow freely without any obstacles. Obstacles in flow are tense structures. Tensions in structures are the result of one sided tension, which can ultimately lead to injuries and protective postures against pain. In which cases surrounding structures take over the function of a injured area to enable “emergency functionality” until the injured structure has been restored.