I recently completed a course on Creativity, Innovation and Change on Coursera. It lasted for 8 weeks and it was a pretty hard commitment, provided that I had plenty of other things going at the same time but it was good, and it was so good that it’s the first course I feel like detailing somewhere, so that I leave it with enough knowledge and learning as possible.
I’ve been keen on courses on creativity for a while, as I thought there must be a process, a method to unleash the creativity within me, and help me make up tons of ideas from nothing. Because this is how I saw creativity: “making something out of nothing”. But I couldn’t have been more wrong!
So, following this course and the Design Thinking Lab on NovoEd, I made some epic discoveries – which may seem trivialities for a person who does creative work since forever, but for me those are beautiful new concepts to play with:
1) We are all creative! Yes, my first discovery is a very much used cliché. But we don’t really believe in it, do we? We think creativity is something that certain people were born with – you know, the ones that were drawing and writing as kids while we were wasting time playing basketball or doing whatnot. We think we’re not creative and most of the time we pass the work that requires innovation and new ideas to “the creative ones”. Well this time, we are the creative ones. You are creative, get used to it!
2) Creativity doesn’t come from thin air. There is a process one can follow – a thinking process, a creating process, whatever you want to call it – to reach innovative ideas or ideas in general.
3) There is structure in the creative process, which is a paradox as every structure is enabling and limiting at the same time. The trick is to use this structure wisely, so that you don’t limit yourself too much but at the same time you build limits so that your idea is effective and practical.
4) We are not creative in the same way. The concept of Creative Diversity was one of the most interesting concepts I read about so far. The creativity differences vary depending on several variables and there is no one combination of these variables that is ideal all the time:
- Creative level: refers to your mental capacity => one example is a special talent for math vs. a talent for art
- Creative style: how your brain is creative in different ways, from person to person; some people are more structured, others are more …chaotic so to say
- Creative motive: what motivates us determines how we create, how we apply our energy to create
- Creative opportunity: we all see opportunities differently (or we don’t see opportunity, but that’s another topic)
5) Creativity involves many skills, not just one or mainly one skill. It is basically the result of a system of skills and processes coming together. You can summarize these skills in the acronym CENTER – see below, which is a good exercise to figure out which one of these pieces is important to you and how you can use them to change yourself:
- Character: I am … and I will be the best I can be
- Entrepreneurship: I take smart risks and run smart experiments towards my dream of …
- owNership: I choose … (fill in your choice)
- Tenacity: I will hold on in my pursuit of …
- Excellence: I will commit and focus to …
- Relationship: My family / home / friends are …
6) There are all kinds of “villains” that stops us from being creative:
- We’re scared
- We lack focus
- We are afraid to experiment – for the above reasons
7) Failure is a natural part of the creative process. The Intelligent Fast Failure concept uses failure as a method of experimentation to obtain good results in the end. Because the final result is the most important and can not be obtained without experimenting, and experimenting means failing. But you can maximize the acquisition of knowledge through failure. Intelligent Fast Failure means:
- Conduct experiments using minimum resources in the shortest time possible (fast)
- Sub-optimal outcomes that are inherent when exploring new creative and innovative ideas (failure)
So, surprisingly, but not so much: YOU ARE CREATIVE! There are no more excuses now, you know, for the thing that you are not doing, even though you think about, but you’re not good enough for, you have no time for, you’re scared it won’t work, you can’t focus on and so on (villains!).
Below a video that I really appreciated – even though the book not so much – on how we’re all little geniuses: