“Creativity can be described as letting go of certainties.” -Gail Sheehy
Creativity is not only a process of generating ideas, it involves making judgments about them. Creativity is not just a matter of being original, but of producing outcomes that are of value. Other people may come to their own views about the worth of a new work or idea, but the person creating is also making judgments as an integral part of the process of creation. In any creative process there are likely to be dead ends: ideas and designs that do not work. There may be failures and changes before the best outcome is produced. Evaluating which ideas do work and which don't involves judgment and critical thinking. Understanding this is an important foundation for creative development.
Critical evaluation involves a shift in the focus of attention and mode of thinking as we attend to what is working or not working. This can happen throughout the process of generating ideas: it can involve standing back in quiet reflection. It can be individual or shared, involve instant judgments or long-term testing. In most creative work there are many shifts between these two modes of thought. The quality of creative achievement is related to both. Helping people to understand and manage this interaction between generative and evaluative thinking is a pivotal task of creative development.
The phases of creativity - successive approximations.
Sometimes a new idea comes to mind fully formed and needs no further work. Often the process is more complex. We begin with an initial idea of some sort, a first rough sketch, a maquette for a sculpture, some general ideas for the design of an experiment, an outline of a new construction. The idea takes shape in the process in the of working on it - through a series of successive approximations. The first idea gives way to a more refined version, or even a completely different one. Creativity is often a dialogue between concept and material. The process of artistic creation in particular is not just a question of thinking of an idea and then finding a way to express it. Often it's only in developing the dance, image or music that the idea emerges at all.
There is a classical division of stages in creative thought: preparation, incubation, illumination, verification. This model is contested by different scholars, but it does suggest a common pattern of focus, withdrawal and then breakthrough. The key point is that creativity is a process rather than an event. The nature of this process is personal to the individual, but it often involves waking and sleeping moments or unconscious ruminations as we do other things. For everyone, creative activity involves a combination of control and freedom, conscious and unconscious thought, intuition and rational analysis.
-Sir Ken Robinson - Senior Advisor to the J. Paul Getty Trust, advisor on creative strategies to governments and companies worldwide and author of Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative.
The Six Hats Method of Creative Thinking (part 4 of 5)
“An idea can turn to dust or magic, depending on the talent that rubs against it." -William Bernbach
Thinking is the ultimate human resource. The main difficulty of thinking is confusion. We try to do too much at once. Emotions, information, logic, hope and creativity all crowd in on us. It is like juggling with too many balls.
The six thinking hats method allow us to conduct our thinking as a conductor might lead an orchestra. Putting on any one of these hats defines a certain type of thinking. Green thinking hat is concerned with new ideas and new ways of looking at things. Green hat thinking is concerned with escaping from the old ideas in order to find better ones.
Creativity involves provocation, exploration and risk taking. Creativity involves "thought experiments." You cannot tell in advance how the experiment is going to turn out. But you want to be able to carry out the experiment.
Personality and Skill
I am often asked whether creativity is a matter of skill, talent or personality. The correct answer is that it can be all three. But I do not give that answer. If we make no effort to develop the skill of creativity, it can only be a matter of talent and personality. People are much too ready to accept that creativity is a matter of talent or personality, and since they do not have this, they had better leave creativity to others. So I put the emphasis on the deliberate development of creative thinking skill (for example, through lateral thinking techniques). I then point out that some people will still be better at it, just as some people are better at tennis or skiing - but most people can reach a competent level. I do not like the idea of creativity as a special gift. I prefer to think of it as a normal and necessary part of everyone's thinking. We are not all going to be geniuses, but then every tennis player does not hope to win at Wimbledon.
Creative thinking is usually in a weak position because it does not seem to be a necessary part of thinking. The formality of the green hat promotes it to being a recognized part of thinking, alongside the other aspects.
Six Thinking Hats
-Edward De Bono