Human creativity is what drives us forward as a species. It is this unique ability to harness our thoughts and ideas that has been responsible for some of the world’s greatest inventions, from the wheel to the microprocessor.
Despite our incredible capacity for creativity and imagination, many of us actually understand very little about the creative process.
“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.”–. Edward de Bono
The very phrase “creative thinking” gives rise to associations connected with something mysterious and new. How can we define creative thinking? How to improve and develop creative thinking skills? This kind of mental activity is associated with a special brain function – imagination.
Imagination is not part of any of the mental functions (memory, perception, attention). It unites them and becomes a transitional form between all structures of holistic intelligence. What is actually the definition of imagination? What techniques and exercises can we use to develop it? And what benefits can we get?
Generating reality in images is the physical ability of the human brain only. Its peculiarities are that it has a connection with organic, semantic and mental components of thinking and unites them. It is still unknown where the neural structures of the brain responsible for its appearance are located. Therefore, in general, the word “imagination” justifies its mystery and phenomenality, it is the essence of the creative principle. With its help, artistic and cultural masterpieces are created: literature, painting, sculpture. All these achievements are realized by mankind due to this phenomenon.
In the imagination there are hidden opportunities that create unlimited the processes of knowledge in our world. The reflection of reality in the mind with the help of imagination is essential both for the intelligence and for the psyche:
- a person with the help of imagination plans his further actions and can mentally imagine his behavior, think over the preliminary result of his actions;
- due to imagination, a person can be transported in time – into the past or the future, randomly evoke long-gone events from memory, relive these feelings, extracting material for creativity from them.
- in the imagination tasks are solved when the immediate real action in practice is unavailable or is not completely clear; with its help the missing details of the information ca be refined
“Creativity” is not the miraculous road to business growth and affluence that is so abundantly claimed these days. And for the line manager, particularly, it may be more of a millstone than a milestone. Those who extol the liberating virtues of corporate creativity over the somnambulistic vices of corporate conformity may actually be giving advice that in the end will reduce the creative animation of business. This is because they tend to confuse the getting of ideas with their implementation—that is, confuse creativity in the abstract with practical innovation; not understand the operating executive’s day-to-day problems; and underestimate the intricate complexity of business organizations.
The trouble with much of the advice business is getting today about the need to be more vigorously creative is, essentially, that its advocates have generally failed to distinguish between the relatively easy process of being creative in the abstract and the infinitely more difficult process of being innovationist in the concrete. Indeed, they misdefine “creativity” itself. Too often, for them, “creativity” means having great, original ideas. Their emphasis is almost all on the thoughts themselves. Moreover, the ideas are often judged more by their novelty than by their potential usefulness, either to consumers or to the company. In this article, I shall show that in most cases, having a new idea can be “creative” in the abstract but destructive in actual operation, and that often instead of helping a company, it will even hinder it.
Suppose you know two artists. One tells you an idea for a great painting, but he does not paint it. The other has the same idea and paints it. You could easily say the second man is a great creative artist. But could you say the same thing of the first man? Obviously not. He is a talker, not a painter.
That is precisely the problem with so much of today’s pithy praise of creativity in business—with the unending flow of speeches, books, articles, and “creativity workshops” whose purpose is to produce more imaginative and creative managers and companies. My observations of these activities over a number of years lead me firmly to this conclusion. They mistake an idea for a great painting with the great painting itself. They mistake brilliant talk for constructive action.
But, as anybody who knows anything about any organization knows only too well, it is hard enough to get things done at all, let alone to introduce a new way of doing things, no matter how good it may seem. A powerful new idea can kick around unused in a company for years, not because its merits are not recognized but because nobody has assumed the responsibility for converting it from words into action. What is often lacking is not creativity in the idea-creating sense but innovation in the action-producing sense, i.e., putting ideas to work.