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What Is Creativity?

what is creativity

Creativity Comes From A Conflict Of Ideas

Donetella Versace

The Question,What Is Creativity?

In the quote above Donatella Versace shares with us her concept of where creativity comes from. Can you see her standing in front of you, arms outstretched, fingers intertwined as she expresses her idea of the conflict of ideas? Or maybe her hands are open in a cup shape and she mimics the overflow of ideas. Either image is of course correct and she’s correct in her bold description, but it’s a bold topic. Don’t you think?

For me, the quote paints a wonderful image of ideas and thoughts careening around an invisible mountain road first on one side, then in a blink on the other side scraping heavily against guard rails. The ideas seem to be on the verge of losing control and before I can clearly finish my imaginative picture they smash into a thousand pieces within my minds eye.

The smashing into a thousand pieces fills my mind with a cloud of sparkling glitter bobbing upon ocean waves of opportunity yet to crystallize, into something recognizable. Can you imagine the unlimited nature of this moment? Nothing has been decided, nothing is impossible. This is creativity’s moment.

What does her quote engender in your mind? What feelings shimmer throughout your being? What was it like for you to even imagine something being created from a collision of ideas, perhaps a violent collision? Or maybe you imagine a more serene collision much like a breeze gently expanding the possibilities of a fuzzy dandelion.

But even with all its awesome possibilities her definition does not answer the question, What Is Creativity? Her quote sends us hurtling down a rabbit hole to find the genesis of creativity, and not it’s birth. Hers is a tipping point, she’s offering us a view of creativity’s conception, a view of creativity unfolding from nothing, yet still needing to take it’s first step, still longing to express itself.

The process of congealing into something new and tangible still needs to occur, and only once that happens is it easy to answer the question, What Is Creativity.

On the other side of a rapidly churning stream a magnificent grove of apple trees lays spread out as far as our eyes can see. There’s no bridge to the other side, no strategically placed stepping stones skimming on top of the stream, no barge guided by a seasoned pilot, no inflated tubes bobbing in wait. Nope, there doesn’t seem to be a way to cross the stream.

I can see the apples I need if I want to create (cook) a delicious baked apple pie. What can I do? I’m stuck with only an idea of creating an apple pie. It’s a good idea, but by itself it’s not yet born with creativity, nope it’s only an idea and no matter how much we think it’s interesting, it’s not creativity.

Creativity takes courage.

Henri Matisse

Ideas birthed in hail soaked brainstorms don’t require courage, though they require a modicum of risk in sharing them with others, the risk of our feelings getting slightly bruised. But like the apple dropping to the ground in this moment across the imaginary bubbling stream, we’re fine. The apple is fine.

Ideas flow in an endless procession along our thought stream. Anything can exist on the other shore and if something is lacking over there we can quickly imagine it into existence. At the top of their lungs those on the other shore will shout Hooray and then wave in gratitude.

The – What Is Creativity – Stream

For a moment picture yourself walking waist deep in the middle of our imaginary stream, bubbling along happily. The water’s clarity allows you to see individual stones sitting on the stream’s floor. Bend over and choose a bright stone, and place it on the shore for all to see.

This small action of retrieving a stone from the streams floor and placing it upon the shore initiates the creative process, initiates movement leading to completion. Action or perhaps more intimately, engagement is the answer to our question. What Is Creativity? But I think I’m getting ahead of not just the answer but the journey itself. 

There’s an abundant grove of sweet apples waiting on the other shore of our imaginary stream. I wonder, are the apples also imaginary? You decide.

The Creative Business Connection

Often we find ourselves confronted by a bombastic leader tightly gripping the steering wheel, and for good or ill deciding a teams creative direction and outcome.This alpha dog has been an institution in most large companies for as long as anyone can remember, and the alpha dog is usually an older man who at some historical point had success.

Don’t challenge the status quo is the message written on the walls, scribbled in bathroom stalls and whispered in the corners of staff meetings we most often hear when attempting to explore creative solutions within corporate culture.

Screaming Let Me Out

David Bowie – under pressure

Companies go along with the traditional way of doing things while turning a deaf ear to younger women and men who may be more in-tune with the customers base of today’s market.

Businesses often disdain any outward appearance of support for collaboration or deeper communication such as on-boarding a Dialogue Path with it’s employee team s or groups.

The most talented, thought-provoking,
game-changing people are never normal.

Richard Branson

1. Turn Down The Internal Noise

Quieting our internal dialogue will tone down that pesky internal editor getting in the way of our creative process. This will allow for more flow of ideas to express themselves.

For individuals, I’ve found the best ways to shut off the internal noise is through a mindfulness practice or through walking (hiking) in nature. Both ways will help you achieve the needed silence and freedom inside your mind, thus allowing you to tap into a deeper connection with your creative self. The more consistent you are on these routes the sooner the quiet will appear.

For teams and groups within an organization I’ve found incorporating a more structured practice led by an professional works best. Programs such as Generative Dialogue or a Collaboration Workshop work best, and really help produce the understanding needed to work together as a cohesive and creative group.

Many professionally led programs such as Generative Dialogue incorporate techniques such as mindfulness, active listening and moving beyond assumptions in their group practices.

Once the group has incorporated techniques that encourage listening, letting go of assumptions and mindfulness then the real (and productive) work of creating as a group can get rolling.

Once a team is free to create, build and construct their ideas in a truly collaborative environment the magic happens and amazing creativity can result.

Creativity requires the courage
to let go of certainties.

Erich Fromm

2. The No-Walls Escape

Gather your employees and invite them to come away with you on a walk, a walk where the mind has no walls to rein in the imagination. Invite them to see how the many shades of creativity are expressed and celebrated at a local art museum.

Spending an afternoon at an art museum and doing so as a group will inspire minds and create shared experiences with your team of employees. I’m not making this up, studies have shown using an MRI that looking at painting, sculptures and or creative pieces stimulate the area of the brain related to creativity and empathy.

The benefits of escaping the confines of work is a 2 for 1 win. First your team has their minds stimulated and second the team bonds. And the business gets this all less then paying for the team to see a movie.

Imagination Grows Business

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