Turning around the Western World’s Crisis of Creativity

Is the Western world really suffering from a Creativity Crisis?  “Yes,” according to a recent report in Newsweek that looked at scores on tests of creativity.  The scores recorded on Torrance tests of creativity have been dropping since 1990, particularly among children.  In comparison, IQ scores continue to rise with each new generation. Forget challenging the reliability of the Torrance scores.  As Newsweek reports, the test appears to be a reasonably reliable method for predicting creative output.  Further, no matter the accuracy of the test results, working to improve the quality of our creative thinking, our ingenuity, will generate numerous benefits to individuals and society as a whole. “The necessity of human ingenuity is undisputed,” according to Newsweek.  We agree. And so do business leaders.  A recent survey by IBM found that CEOs site creativity as the most important quality for leadership.  The U.S. and the world need more great creative thinkers to solve many problems from economic and environmental to war and hunger.  On an individual level, the only real defense against having your job shipped overseas is to be the person that creates ideas that lead to new profits.

So what can be done about this crisis of creativity? There are two factors vital to creativity that anyone willing to challenge themselves and have fun can improve on immediately.

The first factor is to recognize that creativity belongs to ALL fields, not just the arts.  Whenever you develop an original and useful solution to a new problem you are being creative, whether that problem is the need for a disruptive new product, a better method for your company to ship product, or an improvement that reduces a client’s tax obligation, — You are being just as creative as any painter, poet, or composer.

Scientists are creative when they generate Ideas for new cures, new forms of energy, and new theories of space.  Business people develop new Ideas for generating revenue from existing assets like patents and intellectual property. Engineers create new aircraft designs, specialty chemicals, and increase the efficiency of motors. Sometimes these creative people develop breakthrough Ideas that change the course of humanity, bring wealth and success to their company and to themselves, and cure childhood illnesses.  Most of the time, however, these creators solve small but important problems; creative work with little glory, recognition, and no noticeable impact on humanity.  Yet these people are also just as creative as any painter, poet, or composer.

The second part of growing your creativity is to completely revise your understanding of how to think creatively.  Brainstorming and similar techniques are rarely effective, and more frequently a waste of time.

Most creative methods teach that when you are thinking creatively your first step should be to develop a large quantity of ideas. Therefore you should initially ignore the barriers and constraints that you face because thinking about them will prevent you from creating a large quantity of Ideas.  The fundamental flaw in this approach is that you are ignoring your barriers and constraints at the time when you are performing your most productive creative thinking. This is the time when you should be paying the most attention to your barriers and constraints because that focus will force you to create Ideas that are great because they are executable despite the barriers and constraints.

Real creativity that lasts a lifetime can be taught and learned. The Ideative Process is simple and highly effective tool for developing creative thinking skills.  The best part is that you are already an Ideative thinker! You already have a basic set of Ideative building blocks for use in creating new ideas; these are your life’s Experiences and Knowledge.  To grow more creative – Ideative, your challenge is to refresh and grow these building blocks by using the IDEA acronym:

I: You Inundate your brain into your Ideative field by cramming so much information on that subject into your brain that the subject literally follows you into your dreams at night.

D: You Deviate from your Routines.  Routinely break routines.  I offer a listen of ten ways to routinely break your routines on my website.

E: You Enhance each block of Experiences and Knowledge by Inundating and Deviating while engaging as many of your five senses and emotions as possible.  Senses and emotions are powerful tools that label memories so that the more sensory and emotional tags on the memory the easier that memory is to recall.

A: And, if you Inundate yourself thoroughly, Deviate from your routines and Enhance both with plenty of sensory and emotional input, you will –A- Assemble Ideas.

These steps are simple to remember; remember the acronym, IDEA: Inundate, Deviate, Enhance, and Assemble.

Newsweek identified core problems in our nation’s culture and educational system as the causes of our Creativity Crisis.  These problems include an educational system that stifles the development of creative thinking skills, and too much time watching television and playing electronic games; problems deeply embedded into our societal norms.  We are not going to overcome those problems easily or quickly.  The good news is that you can help yourself, your company, your children, and perhaps your schools, by leveraging the simple acronym; IDEA.

For more information on creating innovative, realistic, and valuable ideas using The Ideative Process please explore this website. To arrange for Robert Siegel to speak to your company or organization about The Ideative Process, The Anybody’s Approach to Creative Thinking, send an email to: robertssiegel@gmail.com.

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