Sir Ken Robinson illustrates his own take on creativity and innovation in his book, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative. Originally written in 2001, the book has been completely revised to explore creativity with more depth, breadth, and relevance to this critical period in our time. He discusses how creativity and innovation function in work and practice, which he elaborates as three separate ideas:
“They are imagination, which is the process of bringing to mind things that are not present to our senses; creativity, which is the process of developing original ideas that have value, andinnovation, which is the process of putting ideas into practice.”
This fundamental approach provides a good framework to explore creativity and innovation. I will continue to explore these themes within this context, as creativity and innovation seem to overlap quite a bit in various ways. One can pontificate for days on the ‘value’ of various innovations, or the ‘originality’ of a creative idea, or how a particular innovation is actually put to good use. Robinson’s take on segmenting imagination from creativity and innovation also speaks to a key distinction between internal processes of the mind and the external ‘work’ that takes place when an idea comes to fruition. You can imagine a purple elephant wearing a tutu and swing dancing—it’s another question altogether how to execute this idea even though there are countless ways you can do it. Creativity is often associated with radical free-flowing ideation sessions that are unfocused and unrestrained. There is certainly value in liberal creativity but for the purposes of business you must employ not only a wide variety of these creative exercises to achieve goals but you must execute through succinct action-orientated strategies.
Creativity takes place on multiple levels, internally and externally, and can be amplified by creating new networks of ideas. Companies and organizations can manifest this by creating a unique culture of collaborative innovation, awareness, and instilling a succinct and structured creative innovation strategy. By enhancing your creativity on a personal level, you not only grow more intelligent but you also become more innovative. You learn to improve your performance. You start to come up with more ideas and the quality of those ideas improves as well. You learn to become indispensible—a linchpin, as Seth Godin calls it.
For instance, my book started out as a commonplace notebook—a fragmented matrix of ideas that piqued my interest and allowed me to explore creativity. I was interested in all aspects of communication, business, psychology, art, entertainment, music, films, literature, mythology, and innovation. It was just a platform that helped me understand my own creative process while improving my creative skills and evolving my career as a producer, marketer, business executive, leader, and writer. I continue to be fascinated by the creative process in all forms. It led me to get my M.F.A in Writing and to pursue a career in advertising and media. At first all of my notes were so fragmented. Notebook after notebook of aimless rambling. Perhaps it was a slow hunch that became a slow burn in my head. I went deeper, immersing myself in every aspect of creativity, leadership, and personal development.
But then a real challenge presented itself to me. I wanted to produce something that leveraged all of my work experience, concentrated all of my interests, and explored all of the things that fascinated me in life. I was always a philosopher so the question of my purpose and existence in this world was always on my mind. Why not explore this as well? I wasn’t about to leave anything off the table. If you’re reading these words, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I figured it all out. But I’ve definitely attained some extremely valuable insights. Writing my book has provided me with profound revelations about being more innovative and executing ideas through concise and collaborative strategies.