Research Paper By Esther Muthoga
(Transformational Coach, KENYA)
What Is Creativity?
It is the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.
Is Creativity Inherent Or Learned?
Some measure of creative ability or power is inherent in all humanity but we call him a genius, a person who is exceptionally intelligent or creative.
All around us are the manifestations of creativity: our gadgets, buildings, advertisement, our hobbies, interests and art forms. Our beings exude creative energies and we feel the need to unleash our passions be they creative or inspirational, to explore, do things differently and find solutions. The fact that creativity is all around us, our very environment influences our creative thinking and we are innately creative, even if we do not often realize. Creativity, although innate requires cultivation for some individuals, we do not realize that our passions or the things that brings us the greatest joys is part and parcel of our creative being. Individuals need to be motivated to nurture, harness and cultivate that innate passion or express their creative imaginations through various forms, being expressive (poetry), innovative (invention) or artistic (design or art). There is an acknowledgement, then that creativity can be developed as a skill, a hobby or an interest, however a process of nurturing, guiding and managing such might be required.
Creative Ability And Creative Power
There are two parts to our creativity. One is our creative power. The other is our creative ability. Creative ability is different than creative power. The two are integrally linked and often seem inseparable but they are different.
Creative power is about a flow of energy and the passion to act. To access our creative power, we need to be open to what we feel at each and every level of our being. We need to become aware of what we feel non-consciously that may be directing us in life. We need to explore what methods allow the greatest feelings to arise within our being. Creative power is about accessing the internal and external flow of creative life energy available to us. To access our creative power, we need to develop our creative ability. We need to develop understanding. With understanding, the power we have is amplified. Our creative ability lies in the development of our mind and how it is focused to direct what we feel and whether or not we are willing to follow our intuitive guidance to act. Our mind is a powerful creative tool which allows us to focus our attention and awareness. Creative ability is determined by our belief structure – it is not only what we think and believe (both consciously and non-consciously) but how we think and believe that integrate to create the perception we hold. Without the proper perspective we will never find what we desire.
Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions,
your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, and your values become your destiny.― Mahatma Gandhi
The tools listed here can help you to become more creative. They are designed to help you devise creative and imaginative solutions to problems, and help you to spot opportunities that you might otherwise miss.
There are two completely different types of creativity. The first is technical creativity, where people create new theories, technologies or ideas. The second is artistic creativity, which is more born of skill, technique and self-expression. Many of the techniques in this section have been used by great thinkers to drive their creativity.
Approaches to Technical Creativity
There are two main strands to technical creativity: programmed thinking and lateral thinking.
Programmed thinking relies on logical or structured ways of creating a new product or service.
Morphological Analysis, Matrix Analysis and Attribute Listing
These are useful techniques for making new combinations of products, services and strategies. You use the tools by identifying the attributes of the product, service or strategy you are examining. Attributes might be components, assemblies, dimensions, colour, weight, style, speed of service, skills available, and so on. Use these attributes as column headings. Underneath the column headings list as many variations of that attribute as you can. You can now use the table or “morphological box”, by randomly selecting one item from each column, or by selecting interesting combinations of items. This will give you ideas that you can examine for practicality.
- Attribute Listingfocuses on the attributes of an object, seeing how each attribute could be improved.
- Morphological Analysis uses the same basic technique, but is used to create a new product by mixing components in a new way.
- Matrix Analysisfocuses on businesses. It is used to generate new approaches, using attributes such as market sectors, customer needs, products, promotional methods, and so on.
When you’re stuck on a problem, it often helps to look at it from another perspective. This can be all that you need to do to come up with a great solution. However, it is sometimes difficult to think about what these perspectives might be. This is when a tool like the Reframing Matrix is useful. It helps you to look at business problems from various perspectives. Using these, you can come up with more creative solutions. The approach relies on the fact that different people with different experiences are likely to approach problems in different ways. The technique helps you put yourself into the minds of different people, imagine the way that they would face these problems, and explore the possible solutions that they might suggest.
Here are the steps:
- Draw a simple four-square grid
- Decide on four different perspectives to use in your matrix. Two useful approaches for doing this are the 4Ps Approach and the Professions Approach. The perceptual positions technique can be useful when you want to see things from other people’s viewpoints.
- Brainstorm factors related to your problem from each perspective, and add these in to the appropriate quadrant of the matrix.
The other main strand uses ‘Lateral Thinking’.
How often have you used brainstorming to solve a problem? Chances are, you’ve used it at least once, even if you didn’t realize it. For decades, people have used brainstorming to generate ideas, and to come up with creative solutions to problems. However, you need to use brainstorming correctly for it to be fully effective. When managed well, brainstorming can help you generate radical solutions to problems. Brainstorming can also encourage people to commit to solutions, because they have provided input and played a role in developing them. The best approach to brainstorming combines individual and group brainstorming. During the brainstorming process, there should be no criticism of ideas, and creativity should be encouraged. To get the most out of your individual brainstorming session, choose a comfortable place to sit and think. Minimize distractions so that you can focus on the problem at hand, and consider using mind maps to arrange and develop ideas.
Have you ever found yourself stuck while brainstorming a problem, going over the same ideas over and over again? In situations like this, it can be difficult to break out of your normal thinking patterns and come up with truly new, creative ideas. This is when using creativity techniques like Random Input can be helpful. Random Input is a lateral thinking technique, which moves you outside your established thinking patterns so that you can develop creative and innovative ideas. Random Input was developed by psychologist Edward de Bono in 1968. It’s useful for generating new perspectives on a problem, and can lead to startling creative leaps. The technique works by providing an easy way of breaking out of restrictive thinking patterns. It helps you to link in whole ranges of new solutions that you would not otherwise associate with the problem. To use Random Input, you select a random noun from the dictionary or from a pre-prepared word list. You then use the noun as a starting point for brainstorming your problem. It is best not to choose nouns that come from the same area as the problem you’re considering, as the whole idea of Random Input is to link in new thinking patterns; not to stay inside old ones.
Many of us need to come up with innovative ideas from time to time. However, it’s easy to get stuck in the same thinking patterns, which can limit our creativity. This is why using a technique like provocation can be useful. Provocation is a useful lateral thinking technique that can help you generate original starting points for creative thinking. To use provocation, make a deliberately outrageous comment relating to the problem you’re thinking about. Then suspend judgment, and use the statement as the starting point for generating ideas. You can then move forward using the moment-by-moment technique, imagining how it would play out in the real world. Last, you extract value from picking the ideas that might be feasible, and by developing them further. As with other lateral thinking techniques, provocation does not always produce good or relevant ideas. However, sometimes it does, because it forces you to think in different and original ways. Ideas generated using provocation are often fresh, creative and original.
Programmed Thinking and Lateral Thinking
Lateral thinking recognizes that our brains are pattern recognition systems, and that they do not function like computers. It takes years of training before we learn to do simple arithmetic – something that computers do very easily. On the other hand, we can instantly recognize patterns such as faces, language, and handwriting.
The benefit of good pattern recognition is that we can recognize objects and situations very quickly. Imagine how much time would be wasted if you had to do a full analysis every time you came across a cylindrical canister of effervescent fluid. Most people would just open their can of fizzy drink. Without pattern recognition we would starve or be eaten. We could not cross the road safely.
Unfortunately, we get stuck in our patterns. We tend to think within them. Solutions we develop are based on previous solutions to similar problems. Normally it does not occur to us to use solutions belonging to other patterns.
We use lateral thinking techniques to break out of this patterned way of thinking. Lateral thinking techniques help us to come up with startling, brilliant and original solutions to problems and opportunities.
It is important to point out that each type of approach has its strength. Logical, disciplined thinking is enormously effective in making products and services better. It can, however, only go so far before all practical improvements have been carried out. Lateral thinking can generate completely new concepts and ideas, and brilliant improvements to existing systems. In the wrong place, however, it can be sterile or unnecessarily disruptive.
Taking the Best of Each…
A number of techniques fuse the strengths of the two different strands of creativity. DO IT and Min Basadur’s Simplex embed the two approaches within problem solving processes. While these may be considered ‘overkill’ when dealing with minor problems, they provide excellent frameworks for solving difficult and serious ones.
It is a structured process for creative problem solving. You can use it individually or with a group. The steps in DO IT are as follows:
- Define the problem.
- Open your mind and explore solutions.
- Identify the best solution.
DO IT is a relatively simple approach for creative thinking.
It is a powerful approach to creative problem-solving. It is suitable for projects and organizations of almost any scale.
The process follows an eight-stage cycle. Upon completion of the eight stages you start it again to find and solve another problem. This helps to ensure continuous improvement.
Stages in the process are:
- Problem finding.
- Fact finding.
- Problem definition.
- Idea finding.
- Selection and evaluation.
- Selling of the idea.
By moving through these stages you ensure that you solve the most significant problems with the best solutions available to you. As such, this process can help you to be intensely creative.
Ten Ways To Jumpstart Your Artistic Creativity
- Listen in: Listen to your intuition and capture your new ideas. Whether from your morning shower, night time dreams, when running, in the car, or in nature, keep an idea notebook and jot it down.
- Mind your mind-set: When you start something new, you can either choose to put yourself down and succumb to the inner critic (fixed mind-set) or enjoy the process of creation (growth mind-set).
- Get in the flow: Focus on the moment rather than the goal. When you are totally immersed in a creative activity, when hours feel like moments, you open to tapping into something bigger than yourself. Let it flow through you.
- Let your senses come alive: Notice not only how things look, but how they feel in your hand, how they smell, the sounds surrounding you, even the nuances of taste. Don't forget to listen to your gut -- that's an important sense too!
- Happiness spurs innovation: Sadness inhibits innovative ideas, causing people to exercise more restraint, but happiness expands creative thinking, fresh associations and new perspectives. Remember to take a break and make time for fun! You'll come back refreshed.
- Gratitude rules: Being grateful for where you're at and "taking in the good" helps sculpt your brain's neural pathways to receive more of it. Imagine what you are creating. Like an athlete training for peak performance when you visualize something special, your can embody it even more.
- Seek out challenging tasks: Just for fun, challenge yourself with projects that don't have solutions, like how to make a horse fly (no -- we're not talking unicorns) or build a perfect model of a part of the body. This opens the mind for all types of strategies, which helps generate fresh ideas.
- Surround yourself with interesting people and things: Spend time with diverse friends, listen to new music, and see new exhibitions to broaden your horizons. Having unusual objects around you also helps you develop original ideas.
- Learn something new: By taking a class outside your typical area of interest, you can have a wider range of ideas to draw from and interconnect Research shows that connecting in new ways is the basis for all creative thought.
- Know your strengths and passions: Get to know what makes your heart soar, what makes you feel most alive and energized, and use it as fuel for the creative process.
The key metric in both creativity and innovation is value creation. Listed below are illustrations in three areas:
21st Century Education
Our current education system is ill-prepared to educate the next generation of creative leaders. Developing every individual’s creative potential will be one of the crucial value-creating factors for leading economies in the Imagination Age. We live in a time where things are constantly changing and evolving. The old, established rules used by past generations to educate and secure success are not suitable for the next generation who will thrive in such an innovative time. Unfortunately, traditional education gives little room for students to develop their creativity and outside-of-the-box thinking beyond predetermined, standardized boundaries. The next generation needs to be prepared to tackle not only the known, but also the unknown problems our world will face. Therefore, we must be forward thinking about how we train and inspire our upcoming generation. In the coming age, creative thinking and problem solving, as well as teamwork, will be key traits for success. According to author Cathy N. Davison, 65% of today’s pre-schoolers will grow up to work in jobs or pursue careers that don’t yet exist.
Marketing / Business
While creative ad and marketing types are running for the agency door, CEOs are looking for more creative minds, begging the question: Is creativity depreciated or simply misunderstood? In a recent IBM research study, CEOs from around the world cited “the rapid escalation of complexity” as the biggest challenge confronting them and their organizations. These same CEOs identified creativity as “the single most important leadership competency for enterprises seeking a path through this complexity.” Marketing and creative types who bemoan their roles and their perceived value are missing a unique opportunity and invitation to lead. Creativity, after all, is not valued as an end itself but a critical means to that end. Further, creativity is needed at all levels within an organization. Like many others, Novell has a company-wide “Incubator” program where they encourage and reward employees who submit business proposals for new solutions they feel deserve development funding. In the last year, two completely original ideas have been taken to market. This scenario demonstrates how product development initiatives can be driven by many individuals across an organization and how a creative approach embraced by everyone within a company can ultimately play a significant role in driving market leadership. True business and marketing leaders embrace uncertainty and complexity as creative catalysts that invite and, in fact, demand innovation. Creative leaders should view constraints at every level as exciting challenges that release–not restrict–creative responses. Additionally, creative leadership recognizes the risk in trying new things and doesn’t fear failure.
Creativity is essential to the entrepreneurship that gets new businesses started and that sustains the best companies after they have reached global scale. But perhaps because creativity was considered unmanageable—too elusive and intangible to pin down—or because concentrating on it produced a less immediate payoff than improving execution, it hasn’t been the focus of most managers’ attention. Creativity has always been at the heart of business, but until now it hasn’t been at the top of the management agenda.
To help make the connections between theory and practice, the article’s author recently convened a two-day gathering. In all, they brought together nearly 100 people who were deeply concerned with the workings of creativity in organizations and let the sparks fly. By the end, however, most attendees agreed that there is a role for management in the creative process; it is just different from what the traditional work of management might suggest. The leadership imperatives they discussed, which is shared in this article, reflect a viewpoint they came to hold in common: One doesn’t manage creativity. One manages for creativity.
Drawing on the Right Minds: The first priority of leadership is to engage the right people, at the right times, to the right degree in creative work. That engagement starts when the leader recasts the role of employees. Rather than simply roll up their sleeves and execute top-down strategy, employees must contribute imagination. As Cook put it, Traditional management prioritizes projects and assigns people to them. But increasingly, managers are not the source of the idea.
Tap ideas from all ranks: Cook told the story of an eye-opening analysis of innovations at Google: Its founders tracked the progress of ideas that they had backed versus ideas that had been executed in the ranks without support from above, and discovered a higher success rate in the latter category. Similarly, it was noted that Philip Rosedale, the founder and chairman of Linden Lab, the fast-growing company that manages Second Life, claims to give most workers enormous autonomy, and says the greatest successes come from workers’ own initiatives.
How Creativity Can Be Used With Coaching
Often the only difference between creative and uncreative people is self-perception. Creative people see themselves as creative and give themselves the freedom to create. Uncreative people do not think about creativity and do not give themselves the opportunity to create anything new.
Being creative may just be a matter of setting aside the time needed to take a step back and allow yourself to ask yourself if there is a better way of doing something. Edward de Bono calls this a ‘Creative Pause’. He suggests that this should be a short break of maybe only 30 seconds, but that this should be a habitual part of thinking. This needs self-discipline, as it is easy to forget.
Another important attitude-shift is to view problems as opportunities for improvement. While this is something of a cliché, it is true. Whenever you solve a problem, you have a better product or service to offer afterwards.
Coaching is a useful way to develop people’s skills and abilities, and of boosting performance. It can also help deal with issues and challenges before they become major problems. A coaching session will typically take place as a conversation between the coach and the client and it focuses on helping the client discover answers for themselves. After all, people are much more likely to engage with solutions that they have come up with themselves, rather than those that are forced upon them! It means that the background of an issue and the options available are generally known to the client. The coach’s job is to ask the right questions to help clients arrive at their own conclusions. This is a very powerful way of helping people to change.
The creativity techniques listed in this article can be useful in the coaching process by integrating them among many other coaching competencies.
Here are a few listed;
Co-creating the relationship
- Establishing trust and intimacy with the client
- Coaching presence
- Active listening
- Powerful questioning
- Direct communication
Facilitating learning and results
- Creating awareness
- Designing actions
- Planning and goal setting
- Managing progress and accountability
However, creativity is sterile if action does not follow from it. Ideas must be evaluated, improved and polished before they have any value.