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:
Did it exist before? Well, it existed in black and white inside a coloring book. So, it did exist before.
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.
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, makes a plan, and puts it into motion. Is this an innovative product? It’s not a tangible item that was created, so does it still count?
Well, let’s address the questions.
Did it exist before? Yes, the factory line is already in production; your idea will not change the product.
Did it exist but in a different form? Did you make improvements or adapt it to the situation? You sure did! You took something that was already working but made it more efficient and productive. You eliminated waste.
Is the outcome valuable in some way? Is it useful to society, an organization, your community, your family, or perhaps just you? You bet! Your employees will be more efficient, your company will be more profitable, and maybe it will even help your community or society because you eliminated waste by recycling products.
Therefore, even though your idea is intangible - it is still an innovative product.
The creative product is what is most visible and tends to be what gets judged. It is the public side of creativity and probably the most intimidating. Will people like it? Will they approve of it? Will they invest in it?
Fear of judgment and failure can cause us to doubt ourselves and the product we created.
Organizations want to share the best outcome with the public - they can’t afford to release a faulty product.
Individuals want to share their best work with others - they don’t want to be embarrassed or judged.
Artists want to find consumers who will value their products. Often, this is to sustain a profitable career, but it can also be more altruistic (to help people) or even develop a reputation.
The fact is that it doesn’t matter if the product is from an organization, individual inventor, artist, or entrepreneur - we all seek the audience, client, investor, consumer, or the general public to see the things we create as valuable.
How do we accomplish a creative product, one that makes an impact on others? That’s really what we all want to know. Is there a secret recipe? Are there full-proof steps we can use to ensure that everything we create will be new and valuable? Sorry, but there isn’t.
Here’s what we do know:
Producing a creative outcome requires tremendously hard work by individuals and organizations. This process isn’t easy and may require you to be patient with yourself and others.
The process can be very messy, very long. The more complex the challenge, the more issues you need to address, including many you didn’t anticipate. Embrace the chaos - it will lead to creativity.
There will be mistakes and failures along the way. Organizations spend a lot of money on research and development, and we don’t see everything they come up with. You may see a fantastic product, but all the mistakes that happened along the way are what you don’t see.
The process is crucial to the outcome. This is why there are trade secrets and special techniques that are closely guarded—to prevent people from mimicking or stealing products that have been developed.
Ultimately, success is measured by the final outcome - something the public loves appreciates, celebrates, admires, and will buy.
Sometimes, the most challenging part may be getting started. Here are some tips:
Find an unmet need! That will increase your chances of having to create something new. Is there an issue or problem at home, work, or school? Maybe you could make an app, a new organization method, a new way to teach a subject. Whatever the need is - you can meet it.
Establish your criteria for the solution. What must your solution (product) contain? Are you concerned about the cost? Is there a price point you may need to set? Who will be your audience?
Get Creating! After you determine what you need to fill the unmet need, start brainstorming, get feedback from others, design your prototype, and finally, test it.
Stay persistent and patient! You will make mistakes and face some failures but don’t give up. Developing and refining a product can be the difference between a product that is just sort of useful and something that is both very useful and a joy to use. Think of things you have around your house or workplace that at first seemed like a great idea, but eventually, you stopped using it. Have any exercise equipment that is lying around unused? Or technology gadgets that you “had to have” yet couldn’t figure out how to use it? Compare those items to ones you consistently use. Most of us can’t live with our cell phones or smartwatches. Maybe there is an app that you use almost every day.
At Curiosity to Create, we are passionate about helping you develop your creative skills and produce innovative, exciting, and transformative products. You are never too old or too young to start creating. Check out our social media and let us get you started.
Ready, Set, Create!
Creativity Rising: Creative Thinking and Creative Problem Solving in the 21st Century by Gerard J. Puccio, Marie Mance, Laura Barbero Switalski and Paul D. Reali. International Center for Studies in Creativity, Buffalo, NY: ICSC Press, 2012.