“People often avoid the uncomfortable uncertainty of novel solutions regardless of potential benefit.”
That quote comes from the Forbes magazine article Managing The Psychological Bias Against Creativity by Todd Essig, who notes the situation where “You come up with a great new idea at work, or at home.
“Or a political leader actually tries something ‘new and different’ when faced with a previously intractable problem. But then, rather than grateful acceptance, or even a fair hearing, the idea is squashed, ridiculed, or otherwise ignored.”
New research, he says, “empirically documents how our resistance to uncertainty makes the ‘old ways’ far stickier than they should be given the practical benefits of creative, new solutions.
“Once again, the biases built into our minds leave us simultaneously moving in opposite directions; we like creativity but avoid creative ideas because creative ideas are too, in a word, creative.”
Do we need to invest exceptional levels of time and attention in becoming experts before we can make significant creative contributions?
One of the key ideas of author Malcolm Gladwell is that “outliers” on the upper end of intelligence, ability and achievement have engaged in about 10,000 concentrated hours of practice and study in a specific knowledge area.
From my post Outliers and developing exceptional abilities.
Malcolm Gladwell is author of Outliers: The Story of Success.
But a new article by entrepreneur and philanthropist Naveen Jain, the founder of World Innovation Institute (among other credits) writes that while this may be “an interesting thesis” and perhaps true earlier, it may not apply “in today’s world of growing exponential technologies.”
Einstein was expelled from school for “undermining the authority of his teachers and being a disruptive influence.”
I was reminded of that item when reading the article Can Innovative Thinking Be Learned? (Forbes mag.), in which writer Erica Swallow lists several “disruptive innovators”: Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and Pierre Omidyar, referring to the book “The Innovator’s DNA” – which fortunately also includes a number of women innovators.
She writes that they think and behave differently, and “possess a suite of skills that enable them to connect dots that the rest of us don’t usually perceive.”
Tom Kelley, general manager of award-winning industrial design firm, IDEO, writes about a common form of response to creative ideas in a “pivotal meeting where you push forward a new idea or proposal you’re passionate about.
“A fast-paced discussion leads to an upwelling of support that seems about to reach critical mass. And then, in one disastrous moment, your hopes are dashed when someone weighs in with those fateful words: ‘Let me just play Devil’s Advocate for a minute . . .’
Kelley notes the speaker “now feels entirely free to take potshots at your idea, and does so with complete impunity. Because they’re not really your harshest critic.
“They are essentially saying, ‘The Devil made me do it.’ They’re removing themselves from the equation and sidestepping individual responsibility for the verbal attack. But before they’re done, they’ve torched your fledgling concept.”
“Only one set of skills can ensure this generation’s economic future – the capacity for innovation.”
That quote comes from the website of the new book “Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People That Will Change The World” by Tony Wagner, which declares that nurturing creative thinking is crucial and that “only one set of skills can ensure this generation’s economic future: the capacity for innovation.”
The book asks, “What do the best schools and colleges do to teach the skills of innovation? What are some of the most forward-looking employers doing to create a culture of innovation?”
In his review article, Jonathan Wai, Ph.D. notes he shares author Wagner’s interest “in what constitutes a meaningful science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.”
Wai writes that the book profiles five STEM innovators and three social innovators, and that “These stories are worth learning from and developing hypotheses from,” but warns “it is important to remember that the plural of anecdote is not data.”
He continues, “In addition, the STEM innovators he profiles are very much entrepreneurs.
Executive Director for the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, Tina Seelig, PhD also teaches courses on creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
In her post Seeing Your World in TechniColor in her blog CreativityRulz, she writes about one way to enhance creativity: Paying more careful attention to our environment, which, she notes, “actually takes some effort.”
“Most people see the world in black and white, missing most of the opportunities in their midst.
“They travel down the same routes day after day. The path is so familiar that they can practically navigate it in their sleep.
“But, there are some people who see the world in Technicolor.
“There is a myth, common in American culture, that work and play are entirely separate activities. I believe they are more entwined than ever before.”
Laura Seargeant Richardson, a principal designer at global innovation firm frog design, continues: “A playful mind thrives on ambiguity, complexity, and improvisation—the very things needed to innovate and come up with creative solutions to the massive global challenges in economics, the environment, education, and more.”
From my post Creative Development: Actively Caress Wonder. Play.
Creative endeavors often start small.
One of a number of articles about him notes that “Nine-year-old Caine Monroy spent last summer creating an elaborate cardboard arcade in his dad’s used auto parts store in east Los Angeles, armed with little more than packaging tape and whatever materials he could find.
“I have never been a fan of learning in a classroom. Inside a laboratory or a garage, I always wanted to know more, but never inside a classroom.”
Caltech physicist Caolionn O’Connell, PhD.
“It is often said that education and training are the keys to the future. They are, but a key can be turned in two directions.”
Ken Robinson continues, “Turn it one way and you lock resources away, even from those they belong to. Turn it the other way and you release resources and give people back to themselves.
“To realize our true creative potential—in our organizations, in our schools and in our communities—we need to think differently about ourselves and to act differently towards each other. We must learn to be creative.” [From his book "Out of Our Minds."]
“I started out as a painter, and then painting led to cinema… Then cinema led to so many different areas…” David Lynch
In her book, Mary-Elaine Jacobsen quotes some insightful comments by Annemarie Roeper (founder of the Roeper School and The Roeper Review, a professional journal on the gifted) about the intense inner pressure to create as a characteristic of high ability people:
“Gifted adults may be overwhelmed by the pressure of their own creativity. The gifted derive enormous satisfaction from the creative process.
“Much has been written about this process: how it works, the pressure of the inner agenda, the different phases it involves, the excitement and anxiety that comes with it, and the role played by the unconscious.”
She adds, “I believe the whole process is accompanied by a feeling of aliveness, of power, of capability, of enormous relief and of transcendence of the limits of our own body and soul. The ‘unique self’ flows into the world outside. It is like giving birth.
“I love breaking the myth of the starving artist. That is such a lie that people tell artists from the day they are born, and it’s so sad that so many artists psych themselves out with this myth.”
Musician Magdalen Hsu-Li continues, “There is always a way to make a great living from music or any art form if you are willing to use your creativity to the business aspect.
“People think that creativity should only be in art and the business should be in business. But the most successful business people use their intuition and creativity to problem solve and figure out how to make things work.”