Creativity in business can be a slow, incremental process, as Wallas identified in 1926:
- First insight – problem/opportunity finding and redefinition
- Preparation – the groundwork is often done here
- Incubation – in many cases, this is where unconscious processes play their most important part
- Illumination – often described as the ‘aha’ experience
- Verification – where the idea is validated and accepted by others
In other cases, creativity can pour out of people, at the speed of sound and almost to order. Such was the occasion about 6 years ago, when I wrote a song and recorded a demo of the song all in less than an hour. The piece was inspired by my 8 year old son James, who seemed to demonstrate an ability to wrap my wife and I around his fingers at a level of competence well beyond his years and quite different to my older boy. One day, the idea of a song called “Cowboy James” came to me – words and music flowed and the whole thing was finished in minutes. I previously wrote about Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and the state of flow and this is a good example of flow in action. I recently re-recorded the piece. Please take a listen to this product of naïve and rapid creativity:
The business lessons?
- Sometimes the first thing we do is the best thing. Resist the temptation to refine and overanalyse if your creativity feels right the first time.
- Steve Jobs was known to trust his intuition as much as a spreadsheet. Balance head and heart if you want to convert creativity to innovation
- Read Bill Nelson’s principles for continuous creativity to gain an insight into how to create the flow state – More on this in my books.
- As part of my MBA teaching and innovation consultancy over the years I have practiced with a suite of about 120 creativity techniques which improve the speed and effectiveness of brainstorming. Technique is only part of the equation to get an innovative climate, yet it can help produce creativity ‘on demand’ and certainly more reliably than a poorly run brainstorming session. Contact me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
- Bill Nelson has just released a beautiful box set album covering 40 years of continuous creativity and flow. It is a testament to an intuitive approach to creativity, matched by discipline. Check it out at The Practice of Everyday Life: