• Katie Trowbridge

The Creative Product - What Makes Something Creative?

Updated: Jan 4


To Create or Not to Create…

How many of you have a refrigerator covered with drawings from your children or grandchildren?

Remember the sense of pride you felt when you saw your finger-painted masterpiece hanging for all to see? Or maybe your teacher displayed your essay on the bulletin board as a model product. Have you tried the new paint-by-number kits lately? They are sooo fun.

So the big question is...are these all creative products?

First, let’s review the 4 P’s of creativity:

  • Our definition of creativity is the production of something new and valuable.

  • Over the past few blogs, we discussed the creative person and established that we all are creative.

  • We also discussed the creative process by establishing three broad stages of Creative Problem Solving (CPS): Clarification, Transformation, and Implementation. Remember, these three stages are flexible, and you can start the process at any point. This process is rarely linear and may need to be repeated several times before clearly solving a problem.

The third P is the creative product. Go back to our definition of creativity - it is the production of something. That “something” can be an idea that turns into anything new and valuable.

One of the biggest myths about creativity is that your product must be merely original for it to be creative. In fact, according to Creativity Rising: Creative Thinking and Creative Problem-Solving in the 21st Century by Gerard J. Puccio, Marie Mance, Laura Barbero Switalski, and Paul D. Real,

Creativity is the intersection of novelty and usefulness. Don’t take this the wrong way, but ideas are cheap. Perhaps the most common definition of creativity is the production of original ideas that serve some purpose. This definition recognizes that creativity is not synonymous with pure novelty or simply being different. Being original and being creative is not the same, despite the widespread usage of “creative” to describe something that is merely original, nearly original, or just bizarre. We must assert: no, that’s not it. Creativity is doing something in an original way that is also—that must also be—useful, valuable, or appropriate.

Think about your child’s coloring book page decorated and hanging on your office bulletin board - is this a creative product?

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Did it exist before? Well, it existed in black and white inside a coloring book. So, it did exist before.

  2. Did it exist but in a different form? Did you make improvements or adapt it to the situation? Sure! Your child may have used an existing format but made it his/her own by adding colors and designs.

  3. Is the outcome valuable in some way? Is it beneficial to society, an organization, your community, your family, or perhaps just you? Of course - it may not be something that will change the culture or your community - but it is precious to you.

This may be a simplified version of the creative product, but the same goes for the professional environment.

Your co-worker presents a fresh idea on how to make the factory line more productive, streamlined, and efficient. Using Creative Problem Solving, your team brainstorms ideas