Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Age of Creativity

We live in the age of creativity.  As the economic recovery accelerates, there will be tremendous opportunities for people who can generate ideas and experiences that are unique and authentic. Software, clothing, business models, user interfaces, manufacturing processes....everywhere you look, the demands for creativity are unlimited.

On the other hand, the opportunities for people who don’t create unique value are continuing to fade away. If the tasks that you do, or your company does, can be broken down into a series of easily defined steps, then your job or your company is at risk of being outsourced or automated out of existence.

If creativity is in greater demand than ever before and a prerequisite for success or even survival in the new economy, many of us will need help learning how to become more creative.  How does a person who has been trained by an education system that stresses rote memorization and a work environment that stresses following instructions learn how to create on their own? We need to be taught.

Teaching creativity brings us to the heart of the creativity paradox.  I believe that creative skills can be learned and developed through study and practice. For most of us, we learn best when a skill can be broken down into simple steps which can be rehearsed. After we learn the basics, we can move onto more advanced skills.  However, once we can define a step-by-step process for creativity, is it still creative?

No one can teach us to be creative in five easy steps. Each person has to find their own unique talent and develop that talent in their own unique way. But we can learn methods and techniques from each other that can help us discover our own approach to creativity.

Seth Godin has coined the term “Linchpin” to describe a person who has unleashed their creativity and developed their own unique “superpower.” He calls on all of us to become artists and quotes Steve Jobs to point out that “real artists ship.”  

What I hope to “ship” in this blog are ideas and techniques to enhance creativity based upon my own personal experiences and the writings of experts including Godin, Daniel Pink, Mihalyi Csikzentmihalyi, Malcom Gladwell and others mixed in with musings on marketing, social media, photography and anything else I find interesting.

While contemplating a good name for this blog, I discovered an interesting Lens on Squidoo named Creativity and the Creative Paradox which has been assembled by Todd Edmands.  Check it out at http://www.squidoo.com/creativeparadox .  You might also want to look at some of the blogs that I have included in the list below.

As we explore these ideas together, I am looking forward to your comments and learning how you develop your creative talents.