Creativity Paradox Creates New Value

Contradictions?

Creativity is a force for change. Yet so much creativity is deployed by defenders of the status quo to find arguments showing that change is unnecessary.

Creativity is a progressive force for mankind. Yet great creativity was involved in making the first atom bomb, carrying out the attacks of 9/11, making designer drugs, cosmetic surgery and products that many of us would not call progressive for mankind.

To generate creative ideas we are encouraged to suspend judgment ie to be defer criticism. Yet within every creative idea resides a critique of an older one. And from every critique many potentially creative ideas can arise.

To generate creative ideas we search beyond reason, we venture out into the impossible, the fantastic world of dreams – we even go back to our childhood. Yet we know that a truly creative idea is not silly for it must be solid, rational and logical.

Creativity thrives in competitive free market conditions. Yet it is government that put man on the moon, a government-funded organization that created the worldwide web and governments that created the best generalized healthcare systems.

Innovation is never a solo act – somewhere there is teamwork involved. Yet Nobel Prizes are handed out as recognition for the rare creativity of exceptional individuals.

As proponents of creative thinking and innovation practice we must learn to live with such and many more paradoxes of our subject matter. Our vocation is fraught with ambiguity and our capacity to accept many solutions to a problem is the very source of our insight. Arthur Koestler once wrote about the paradox that lies in the creative mind:

“Most geniuses responsible for the major mutations in the history of thought seem to have certain features in common; on the one hand skepticism, often carried to the point of iconoclasm, in their attitude towards traditional ideas, axioms, and dogmas, towards everything that is taken for granted; on the other hand, an open-mindedness that verges on naïve credulity towards new concepts which seem to hold out some promise to their instinctive gropings.  Out of this combination results that crucial capacity of perceiving a familiar object, situation, problem, or collection of data, in a sudden new light or new context: of seeing a branch not as part of a tree, but as a potential weapon or tool; of associating the fall of an apple not with its ripeness, but with the motion of the moon.”

Innovators have no choice but to accept the contradictions and make the best of creative tension and ambiguity, for these are at the core of what brings new value to the world.

image credit: kathyescobar.com

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Creativity isn't what it used to beDimis Michaelides, Managing Director at Performa Consulting, is  global business consultant and keynote speaker on The Art of Innovation.  His book, The Art of Innovation: Integrating Creativity in Organizations, was published in 2007.

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