CREATIVITY IS HERE! - 26 MAY 2012
Field of Albatross at Night - Midway Island, North Pacific, File #1124260
What are these things; imagination, creativity, and innovation? That's today's discussion. After the last discussion about "The Problem Ahead" I bet you're looking for something a bit lighter in content. Today we're going to talk about things you might or might not feel you have connection to. The best part about today's discussion is it's all about possibility, pure unadulterated possibility.
Let's get down to each of them.
Imagination is the forming of images and sensations without the need of senses. Imagination ties meaning, context, or any other opinion to what you perceive using your senses. Imagination might possibly be the most important capability we have as humans. Directly it allows us to see things that at first don't appear. It's the causation of us making opinions, of discovery, our gut feelings, to know there are things that simply don't have evidence. It is basic and it is good. We, whether you believe it not, all have imagination. We're born with it. You simply can not operate in our world without it. To learn, to make more of than what you're receiving--which really is all about learning--has a basis in imagination. You can't learn without imagination. As a result, unless you're like me that never seems to learn, you definitely have imagination. If you're reading this at sometime in your life you lived a life of imagination. And, in that life you learned words.
Let's end here with one thing about the characteristic of imagination. Imagination is non-linear. The product of imagination simply don't subtly come into focus. Products of imagination just appear. Imagination makes things that didn't exist to you to suddenly appear. You've recognized that phenomena at some point. It's a part of an epiphany, that "ah ha!" moment--"Ah, Ha! Now I understand". That's imagination at work. At its core, it's non-linear as in it's not gradual. Sure the discoveries might be small discretely, the product of imagination is poof, IT EXISTS. Even though the discovery might be small, it's still a leap. That's not very linear if you ask me and sounds very powerful. It should because it is very powerful.
Creativity is the process by which someone makes something new of value (of course, value is in the eye of the beholder). You can see making something creative you might need imagination. Actually it's a requirement. You need imagination to be creative. I'm sure at some point in your life you thought of yourself as creative. You might've been a kid and was covered in finger paint at the time. Nowadays since you're older, you might not consider yourself creative. Not so much finger paint involved in your current life is there?
Most people seem to think of creativity as something related to the arts as in music, painting, drawing, those types of things. Really, creativity is applicable to anything you do. Whether it's from trying to design a trip itinerary, figure out a family vacation, how to get the kids to their six thousand after-school activities. You know what I'm talking about. Most activity we do involves some type of creativity. At least, I hope it does.
For me highly active creativity opportunities are what I'm all about. It's energizing to be engaged in the creative process. Creativity is at work when I'm out in the field trying to find that compositional solution for a camera shot. Or, it could be used to solve that organizational problem at work. Maybe, it's about developing a plan on how to interact with that stubborn customer. These are all examples of creativity at work.
Whether you believe it or not, you have to be creative to effectively get through the day. There is no all encompassing playbook covering all situations you might encounter. As in "hey, I just had a fender bender, what do I do now? Let's read the playbook?" Or, "I'm coming to a Y in the road, what does the playbook say for which fork to take?" Maybe it’s "I'm at the grocery store, what does the playbook say for what I should bring home?"
You see, creativity is a part of your life every single day and you probably aren't even playing an instrument or using a paint brush. You're a creative and didn't know it. How awesome is that?
The last item we'll define is innovation. Innovation is the creation of new and better products, processes, or types of things. Innovation is less about the thing like an invention is. It's more about using that thing in a creative fashion.
Innovation is an interesting word because it's really hard to nail down. So far imagination and creativity were relatively easy to identify. But, we'll find innovation is hard to identify/define because, well, you can't put your finger on it. The funny part is we all seem to know innovation when we see it. Clearly it's never more of the same. Being innovative is not something that happens all the time. Innovation is about new and different. Here's another thing. Innovation is also not only about being different, anyone can be different. The question is can they be innovative?
When you see someone being innovative, there's more than simple new or different associated with them. There's a quality aspect associated with it. There's value associated with being innovative. At least for this article, I'm presuming there's value with innovation otherwise, what's the point.
Let me also clarify for this article quality is something of a goodness we all have an inherent sense of. If you’re read Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance by Prising, you know exactly what I’m talking about. For everyone else, just take this. At our most base level, we get quality. Whether we can put our finger on why that item, product, process, idea has quality, that's a totally different issue. We know quality when we see it. Let's just say quality is a goodness.
For this article, I'm tying innovation to quality because I want to emphasize there's more to innovation than simple change. Change is the antiseptic difference between one state and the next. For this article, I'm stating innovation is more than simple change--i.e. difference. Innovation has a quality, a goodness associated it. Innovation has a vector to it in a quality direction. And, you recognize that innovation when you see it.
Notice I'm also defining innovation in the context of being creative. The thought is you can't innovate unless you're creative. Tied with the discussion on quality, innovation is about “making” being good and creative. It's about moving into a positive direction. Whatever that might be.
Enough definition. Let me make this statement. Imagination, creativity, and innovation are absolutely necessary for adaptive, agile, effective organizations. The condition of being effective (make product) and adaptive (responsive to changing conditions) and agile (doing it quickly) is the organization has to be imaginative, creative, and innovative. To have none of the latter does not allow you to become any of the former. Are you catching a drift here? We'll talk more about that later.
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