Change and Creativity. Part 2: Components of Creativity.

Posted by on October 14, 2010 in Blog | 0 comments

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In the second part of this blog series on Change and Creativity, I’ll look at the Components of Creativity.

A lot of leaders and business people tend to shun creativity under the false impression that they are not creative or “arty”, or “out of the box thinkers”. The truth is, creativity is both a creative and an analytical process. People with both these traits can be very creative.

But what are the components required to be creative?

Before we consider the components of creativity, let’s look at what holds us back. What are the hindrances to creativity? The first and glaringly obvious one is our mindset. The way we have been raised, the schooling we have undergone.

Below is a column of numbers. They are in base 10. Add them in your head as quickly as you feel comfortable. Do not use a pencil. Then write the sum at the bottom of the numbers.

If your total is 5000, then you agree with 95% of people who add these numbers. Add the numbers again, in fact do it three times (like I had to). If you are still getting 5000, then read on to find out why.

The reason we make this mistake has everything to do with our adeptness at adding. Because we have so much confidence in our adding ability, we overlook the obvious. Many people get it correct at 4 090, and then for some reason screw up completely when carrying the 1. The correct answer is 4100. You were thwarted by your own skill, in being trapped in your particular way of thinking. In order be creative, we have to first unlearn the paradigm that we know.

“All learning is preceded by first unlearning.”

In order to become creative in our sphere of influence, we need to develop 3 skills.

a) Domain Skills.
These are skills that we need in order to do our job. Skills to help us to function in our domain. To be more creative, we need to learn more about our job. We need to be able to look broader, to make connections between the domain skills of our other skills and interests. In other words, how can you apply skills you require in your hobby of building and flying model aeroplanes with your day-to-day job of selling widgets? Finally, you need to look at what skills or competencies you (and your company) may require in the future.

b) Motivation.
Extrinsic motivation hampers creativity! When your boss or manger puts pressure on you to be creative, you can’t. Creativity can only come to the fore when you are intrinsically motivated. The reason that extrinsic motivation hampers creativity is that it encourages stress. When people are under pressure and become stressed, their level of brain functioning increases and moves out of the lower levels to over 25Hz. In this state, known as High Beta, the brain is not very effective at solving problems. The deal state for being creative is at Theta level which is found between 4-7Hz. This is why we come up with so many good ideas and concepts when we are trying to fall asleep! The bottom line then to being creative at work is love your job!

c) Process Skills.
These are the skills referring to what needs to happen in your mind and brain – the process of being creative.

“The biggest difference in people is the questions they ask.”

Successful people are creative at some level. They know how to ask empowering questions rather than disempowering questions. They understand not only how to reason, but how to gain a different perspective on problems they are facing and required to solve.

Think of perspective in the following scenario – the recent public servants strike in South Africa.

Just weeks ago civil servants (well we can’t call them “servants” can we because that will imply that they actually deliver) across the country embarked on Strike action over a wage increase dispute. Government offered them 7%, they wanted 8,6%. The strike lasted 3 weeks, during which there was not only violence and lots of negotiations, but none of them got paid whilst on strike.

Consider that the average public worker gets a monthly salary of around R 10 000-00. If the 3 week action was successful, the strike action would have netted this “average” individual R 160-00 per month. However, in the 3 weeks of the strike, this same person lost R 7 500-00 in income. It doesn’t take a Rocket Scientist to figure out that it’s going to take him 46 months – that’s 4 years – to recover financially from a 3 week action!

Had they had this perspective, I bet they would have more creative in finding a solution to their problem!

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