What is Creativity?


Welcome to Episode 8 of The Creative Life podcast. In this episode, we look at what is creativity and how do we define it?

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In this episode you’ll discover:

  • What is creativity?
  • How do we define creativity?
  • The difference between the small “c” and the big “C”
  • The six “P’s” Model

Please leave a comment below and tell me what you think.




What is Creativity?

One of the questions I’m asked all the time is, “What is Creativity? How do we define it?” Well, at its most simple, creativity is the ability to generate and refine ideas. Generate and refine. However, there are a couple more elements, if you really want to go deeper into the difference between small “c” creativity, and big “C” creativity. So think of it as some kind of continuum. Or, creative or creative ideas, you’re generating and refining ideas, is what you’re doing. However, you have to ask yourself another three questions to understand whether something is small “c” creative or big “C” creative. And so, when we talk about small “c” creative, it’s something we call everyday creativity. Like, you come with ideas, improve things, but it’s not going to change the world, only improving your life. Or big “C” creativity, these are the Picassos, the Hemingways, the Einsteins… they really change the world.

If you look at it, the first of these three things, thinking about creativity, is “is the idea useful?” Let’s say, if you’re decorating a room in your home, you’ve obviously generated ideas, you’ve refined them – such as which color, which skirting boards – that’s definitely useful. No doubt, you’ve created something that is useful, you’re room looks great now, looks so much nicer. This is at the small “c” level of creativity. The next thing, well, it’s useful but is it original? Is it novel? Is it new? Chances are, the way you’ve decorated the room, is not really that original. It’s useful, but it’s not particularly new or novel. But you may have, you may have done something to the room that no one has done something like it before, something new and novel. And so now you’re close to the big “C.”

But what really defines big “C” creatives, if when they’re generating ideas and refining them, is it useful, it it original and do they change the domain of which they are working? Hemingway changed the idea of novel writing. Einstein changed science. Picasso changed art. These are big “C” creatives. There’s nothing with, most people, myself included, are focused on creating new things that are useful to the world, but who knows? We may change the domain, we may not change the domain. That’s the initial way of thinking about that continuum. Another way of thinking about it, and this is very useful, if you want to model other creative people, if you’re a musician you want to model other great musicians or if you’re a designer you want to model other great designers, or if you’re an executive you want to model other executive who’ve built their companies in really creative and innovative ways. Then this is the model you can use, called the six “P’s” model. I think I teach that in C-school here.

So six “P’s.” The first thing to think about is the purpose. What is your creative purpose? Why are you doing this? And likewise, if you are looking at an individual you are looking to model and learn from, what was their drive? What was their mission to do what they’re doing? Cause I can tell you a lot about that individual and what they’re creating. Secondly, what is their personality? We all have different creative types. We can go more in-depth on this in C-school, but it’s kind of identifying and understanding what your creative type is, and also in the context if you are working on a team in an organization, what the creative types are of the other people on your team, so you can put together a high performing team. That’s the personality point. And then the third point is the process, and this is understanding the process of how you work, how you generate ideas, how you refine ideas, so your creative process. Also, you will be looking at an organization or company at their process on how they create their product or service. The fourth one is place.

So thinking about the environment from which you are working. Actually I find companies to be very very good at this, understanding how to build a creative work environment, creative space, to get the best from their people. Likewise, you as an individual, where do you work best? In terms of you doing your creative work? Probably what you fill find, at different stages of the creative process, you might want to be in slightly different environments. So when you are trying to absorb a lot of content, you may be working in a quiet space. Maybe then you’ll start to think about ideas and find patterns, you might want to work in a coffee shop. But then when you need to get your “aha” moment, you need to get with nature, walking around. So, thinking about the importance of the place.

The fifth one is product. I won’t go too much in-depth with this, but what is the actual product? What is the modality, what is the thing being created? Then the final thing is persuasion. And this is such a critical element of it because the thing is, being able to change the domain, can you persuade other people that this idea is original, it’s novel or new, it’s useful, and is it going to change world, change the domain. And that persuasion, that final sixth “P” is one of the most important things. You have to do the work, you have to create something that’s going to change the world, but you have to persuade other people to do it. You’ve got to persuade the gatekeepers that this is going to change the world, that this is an idea that’s going to change the domain. So hopefully that’s been useful, understanding creativity, to generate and refine ideas, and we have this continuum of small “c” creativity and big “C” creativity between is it original, is it useful, and will it change the domain.

I do like to thank one of our sponsors which is lynda.com. Lynda.com is being used by millions of people including myself and my team, and they have over 3,000 courses from web development, design, music production, photography, and much, much more. I actually use it for software training. So if a new version of software comes out, I go straight on lynda.com and learn how to use that piece of software. They’ve got some great teachers, it’s not just your usual Youtube bunch of videos, it’s really well thought through these courses they have, and it really teaches you step-by-step. So, you can sign up for free by going to jamestaylor.me/lynda and that’s L-Y-N-D-A, and you’ll get unlimited access to every courses for ten days if sign up using that link. The link again is jamestaylor.me/lynda.

Did you enjoy this episode? If you did, you can do two things to continue your journey. Firstly, you can subscribe to this podcast in iTunes and I would love it if you leave a comment. Secondly, you can receive my free Creativity Training Series by going to jamestaylor.me.

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