What Is Creativity?

January 30, 2007 at 3:26 pm | Posted in Design, General | Leave a comment

Much of the thinking done in formal education focuses on the skills of analysis, teaching students how to understand claims, follow or create a logical argument, figure out the answer, eliminate the incorrect paths, and focus on the correct one. However, there is another kind of thinking, which focuses on exploring ideas, generating possibilities, looking for many right answers rather than just one. Both of these kinds of thinking, Critical and Creative thinking are important to a successful working life, yet the latter seems to get ignored.

In an activity like problem solving, both kinds of thinking are important to us. First, we must analyze the problem; then we must generate possible solutions; next we must choose and implement the best solution; and finally we must evaluate the effectiveness of the solution. As you can see, this process reveals an alternation between the two kinds of thinking. In practice, both kinds of thinking operate together much of the time and are not really independent of each other.

What is Creativity?

An ability. A simple definition is that creativity is the ability to imagine or invent something new. However, it’s not the ability to create out of nothing, but the ability to generate new ideas by combining, changing or reapplying existing ideas. Some ideas are astonishing and brilliant, while others are just simple and good practical ideas which no one seems to have thought of yet.

Believe it or not, everyone has substantial creative ability. Look at how creative children are. In adults, creativity has too often been suppressed through education, but it is still there and can be reawakened. Often all that’s needed to be creative is to make a commitment to creativity and to take the time for it.

An attitude. Creativity is also an attitude: the ability to accept change and newness, a willingness to play with ideas and possibilities, a flexibility of outlook, the habit of enjoying the good, while looking for ways to improve it. We are socialized into accepting only a small number of permitted or normal things, like chocolate-covered strawberries, for example. A creative person would realize that there are other possibilities.

A Process. Creative people work hard and continually to improve ideas and solutions, by making gradual alterations and refinements to their works. Contrary to the mythology surrounding creativity, very, very few works of creative excellence are produced with a single stroke of brilliance or in a frenzy of rapid activity. Much closer to the real truth are the stories of companies who had to take the invention away form the inventor in order to market it because the inventor would have kept on tweaking and fiddling with it, always trying to make it better.

A creative person knows that there’s always room for improvement and knows that there’s never only one answer for a given problem.

For further reading, I suggest taking a look at Psychologist Jay Brand’s article, “Creativity Demystified”.

Original Article: dA News

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