I’m sitting on a rooftop in Oaxaca, Mexico, attempting to de-rat-ify from the American ratrace, seeking creative renewal as I wrap up a year of “blarticles.” This is the 86th time I’ve reflected on creativity and innovation this year (Click to access my full Innovation on My Mind blog), and I’m going to use this final blarticle as a summary index of my thinking, distilling with hyperactive hyperlinking the key concepts and perspectives of what’s been On My Mind throughout 2009.
My main argument is that as a culture, country and planet, there is now an innovation imperative like never before. As the speed of change continues to increase, we, as individuals and organizations, must improve our skills of innovation–which guide are ability to change successfully–to be able to prosper economically and to solve the increasingly complex challenges of our day.
Simply put, we need to become more creative people.
I’ve made that case for innovation by sharing ideas and videos from President Obama to thought leaders like Richard Florida, Daniel Pink and Thomas Friedman. I’ve taken you with me as I discussed breakthrough innovation and explored innovation efforts locally, including Chicago’s Innovate Now initiative. I’ve grappled with ways to help organizations harness their creativity, and underscored our need to make radical changes in education to activate creative thinking for children and adults in ways long overdue.Because the engine of innovation is creativity, I’ve focused in large part on clarifying what creativity really is and how we all can learn to be more creative. To understand creativity is to first understand the distinction between divergent and convergent thinking, which I touch on in this video (click on picture above, me presenting at Google this summer), and to embrace a shift of mindset that ground rules like P.T.S. offer. Throughout the blog, I’ve been fleshing out the three key competencies of divergent creativity, which make up my curriculum for creativity training:
2. Flexibility: Our ability to think differently and generate different kinds of ideas. Since innovation most often occurs through the unusual combination of ideas, perspectives and domains–what I call multiparadigmatic or hybrid thinking–the flexibility competency is perhaps our most fertile. It includes skills of shifting, associating and challenging assumptions–and the leveraging of diversity.
3. Originality: Perhaps the most difficult competency to teach, this is our ability to generate unique ideas. It all comes down to the dance of the heart and the mind, and the skills of passion, engagement and synthesis. The more we can express our own unique selves–which was the initial intention of the Kreativity Network I founded and the Creativity Jams I now host–the more innovation will happen, guaranteed.
Finally, I am indeed passionate about changing education, and believe we need our curriculum for K-12, colleges and adults to build these creativity competencies and empower individuals to pursue their innate talents and more experientially tackle real issues. My contention is that we must create a new cadre of comprehensivists–those who can facilitate creativity and change in multidisciplinary ways. We need to break down the silos of expertise that currently separate and stifle us both in academia and organizations, so that we truly leverage our collective brainpower to creatively solve the challenges of our time.
I’m taking a break from the blog for a few weeks. Thanks so much for being part of this conversation and may the new year bring creative renewal–and proactive change–for you in work and life.