As one of the most innovative companies in recent years, Apple does not fit any of the traditional criteria for innovation. It does not invest large amounts of money into research and development, nor does it have a formal innovation funnel. Instead, it produces a small number of innovative products. The social dynamics leading to Apple-style innovation, including serendipity, connection, discovery, networking and play, are more typical of a college campus than a big corporation. According to a 2010 IBM survey of 1500 CEOs, creativity ranks among the most valuable management skills in the contemporary business environment. It has become something to train for and an accessible skill.
The work of Teresa Amabile of Stanford University in the 1980s revealed that creativity has a social context. People in different career fields interpret the ability for original thought by different criteria, making domain knowledge a prerequisite for creative innovation.
Cognitive psychology theories about the mental processes of creative people produced psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s idea of “flow”–a distinctive, cognitive state of mind people enter when they create. The elements of flow include:
*Absent sense of time
*Feeling of great confidence
*Absent fear, hunger, and fatigue
*Joy or rapture
In the 1990s, brain imagery technology showed psychologists images of brain functions while people were creating. It debunked the belief that creativity is exclusive to the right brain. In fact, during a creative task, a person’s entire brain is involved.
The best way to decode creativity is to learn from creative individuals and organizations. In Florence, Italy, during the Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Botticelli, and Donatello were at the forefront of a group of great painters who frequently collaborated in a society highly appreciative of their work. The super creativity of this group of masters was largely due to the social and cultural context in which they were working.
Three elements are essential to creative teams:
- Familiarity with each other
- Shared commitment to similar goals
If cognitive psychology and neuroscience have shown that individuals have the ability to be creative, then a sociocultural approach demonstrates how to act within groups to foster creativity. Rather than search for a specific spot in the brain where an individual’s creativity originates, people should team up with others to multiply their creative abilities.
Creative intelligence exists across several disciplines and in all spheres of life. It is a social activity that grows through collaboration and sharing. With the rise of social media networking, corporations, schools, hospitals, and all other large organizations must adapt to social technology or be phased out.
Facing an uncertain future, people must be innovative and agile. They must seek ways to create things that change their lives. Five competencies are essential to this endeavor:
1. Knowledge mining to discover what is meaningful to themselves and others.
2. Framing, a lens that helps people focus and adapt to changing situations.
3. Playing to open up creativity, free people from rules, and find new ways to solve challenges.
4. Making products locally.
5. Pivoting to bridge the gap between innovation and creation.
People using creative intelligence are building a new business model called Indie Capitalism. It is free of many of capitalism’s traditional constraints, and it is a social system that is local rather than international.
Creativity is not a lightning bolt, but a light bulb. It can be common and routine. It is a means of expressing humanity and the uniquely human ability to create, connect, and inspire.