The favourite of all the many courses I have studied was the creativity and innovation module in my MBA. So it was interesting to read about a creativity roundtable of leading academics from innovation, psychology and creative writing backgrounds in a recent edition of the Open University’s Open Minds magazine. Here’s a brief summary:

What is creativity?

  • Thinking laterally and making new connections
  • It is about play and allowing yourself to perceive anew
  • Something new but something apt
  • Often about synthesis, the juxtaposition of seemingly disparate ideas
  • A “yes and” mentality

What is the process of creativity?

  • Flexibility, play, logic, motivation
  • ‘a room of one’s one’
  • The compulsion to create
  • Research and preparation, pre-conscious cognition, incubation and deeper gestation
  • Collectivism and serendipity

Is creativity the same in every discipline?

  • Spending time asking the right questions
  • For exceptional creativity, experience in the area is very important
  • It is not a process and not repeatable
  • Creativity is often about breaking the rules
  • Pressure – too much unhelpful, too little problematic

Can creativity come from suppression and oppression?

  • Too many constraints can diminish the potential for creativity
  • Flexibility, freedom, licence and permission in playful terms is required

Is there a creative personality type?

  • The type normally associated with creativity is an open minded non-conformist
  • People interested in the big picture gather lots of different ideas – they may be less good with detail
  • Incremental creativity – that builds on others’ work
  • Learn to think outside the box but explore inside the box too

Can you teach creativity?

  • In writing there is a distinction between art and craft
  • You can create the conditions that allow a person to reach starting points
  • You can facilitate aspects of it
  • You can teach creative thinking and problem solving
  • Provide environments and processes that encourage people to look at things differently