John Howkins developed the concept of creative economy in 2001 to describe economic systems where value is based on novel imaginative qualities rather than the traditional resources of land, labour and capital. Some observers take the view that creativity is the defining characteristic of developed 21st century economies, just as manufacturing typified 19th and early 20th centuries.
Creativity has been associated and envisaged as a cure for all in the last years. If we look at the top skills as published by the World Economic Forum we understand how important creativity is for the future of work.
Let’s look closer to the creative process.
- Creative thinking it is not something we can do at will. It often happens in silence and solitude. Leaders who want to foster creative thinking cannot demand it to themselves nor to their teams. Instead, to make space for it, they need to show respect for alone time and patience for the timing of the creative process.
- You are not in control, the creative idea is. A creative idea, to grow and develop in something eventually tangible, requires openness. In a certain way it demands to become comfortable with a mystery that, to be birthed, needs first to enter us.
- Creative thinking is a sensuous experience rather than a mere intellectual activity. The so called Eureka moment requires incubation and preparation. The inspiration is only the tip of the iceberg. It isn't a mere event rather a competence that requires nurturing.
Focusing on speed and outcome, so prized in the business world, isn't really conducive to creativity. It requires instead discovering and perceiving new paths and connections. To be able to do so we need to design environments that allow twists and turns, even false starts.
Creativity is central to change and to the future of business and central to creativity, is the shift of perception. When we can change our perception we open up to new ways that generate new ideas which then fuel change into an organization. We believe that things (words, events, situations) have one and only one meaning. This perception leads us to ingrained ways of thinking; thinking of how things should be.
Poetry does support the creative process (I talked about it on Business in Rhyme podcast episode 4, you can listen to it here. For all Business in Rhyme podcast check ReNEWBusiness SoundCloud channel here.) by supporting this change in perception, making space and opening up connections. I am a poet (among other things) myself and experience poetry as the revolution of how I see the world. Poetry encourages me to “break rules”, those rules that privilege logical fact and prevent creativity to flourish. Poetry isn't bounded to deductive capacity, it is more an associative capacity which frees us up from the predictability of everyday logic. Poetry calls for associations that evoke images and generate ideas rather than a pursuit of proofs. A poem allows us to become more flexible in picking up nuances and postpone closure, moving away from the either/or approach toward the both/and.
In business we are constantly pressured to make decisions and provide evidences, proofs, logic, we urge for hard data to back us up. A poem instead opens up a space for contemplation around alternatives.
Creativity, as poetry, isn't about quick solutions. It gets us to question assumptions, it liberates from the old and leads to innovation.
In my view the creativity of a poet is the same as the one we demand of a 21st Century leader. Actually, these leaders are poets, or if you prefer the poets are the leaders of 21st Century.