Creativity means creating new things or arranging old things in a new way. It could mean more than “thinking out of the box.” It could mean tearing “the box” apart.
A short parable, written by George McDermott explains this process.
Creativity Likened Unto a Coffee BeanOne day…a long time ago…in, say, a million B.C. somebody figured out that you could put things in water and boil them, then throw out the water and eat the things.
(Somebody also figured out that that was called cooking, but that’s a minor-league creativity.) Well, Cooking was very nice, but it was still a relatively new invention, and they hadn’t worked all the bugs out yet. For instance; coffee beans, even after people cooked them, still tasted crummy. So everyone gave up on coffee beans…at least until some genius had a flash of inspiration. “Hey, maybe Cooking doesn’t always work the same way, “ he said. “Sure, the beans taste lousy, but we haven’t tried drinking the water we cooked them in.”
If that doesn’t sound like significant genius to you, ask your self these questions: Have you ever-tried eating coffee grounds? Would the taste inspire you to drink the water?
The creative process consists of five steps:
1. Gather raw material, i.e. previous work done by others but given up on.
Talk to others who have solved similar problems. Unleash your curiosity.
2. As these raw material pieces are absorbed, start the “kaleidoscope” process. Turn these pieces over and over in your mind. See how these pieces keep repositioning themselves in relation to the others. Look for the coming together like a jig-saw puzzle.
3. Drop the whole subject. Relax. Put the whole project out of your mind. Don’t worry because your subconscious is effectively working on it, even if you go to sleep.
4. Eureka! Wow! Bingo! The idea appears at the most unexpected time. Say to yourself: “But don’t forget there is a fifth step.”
5. Verification. Is it suitable for the situation? Is it feasible? Will it be acceptable to those who use it? When Thomas Edison’s laboratory team had a break through he always challenged them by saying, “There’s always a better way. Find it.”
The best way to sum this up is with this piece from Apple Computer’s “Think Different” campaign.
Here’s to the crazy ones,
The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently
They’re not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them,
Disbelieve them, glorify them, or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them
Because they change things,
They invent. They imagine. They heal.
They explore. They create. They inspire.
They push the human race forward.
Maybe they have to be crazy
How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art?
Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written?
Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?
And it’s these people who are crazy enough to think
That they can change the world, and they actually do.
(Used with permission and blessings of Apple Computer Co.)