Sometimes the truth hurts. But knowing it still will set you free. The article below has a very businesslike tone, but don’t let that stop you from reading what is nothing less than the painful truth all creatives need to know:
by Milena Z. Fisher, Ph.D.
In response to a high demand for answers, the bunkum and balderdash of oversimplified creativity solutions are continuously shoved down a hungry market’s throat. The question remains: Is the current state of knowledge about creativity in a position to deliver meaningful, scientifically sound conclusions to what creativity is and how to foster it?
The Creativity Post just turned six years old. I want to thank our amazing authors and loyal audience for their active participation in this ongoing project exploring creativity from every possible angle. To mark this happy occasion, I would like to share with you a few remarks on how creativity studies are looking.
Before I start my soliloquy, I would like to express my most profound appreciation to all researchers working on understanding creativity. It takes a lot of guts to swing at this complex and vague subject with scientific tools. At the same time, I also want to emphasize that creativity, like every subject of science, needs constant reexamination—a permanent state of epistemological vigilance—which is even more critical when it comes to a discipline so young and yet so important to all of us.
Science is a noble pursuit of the truth in all things, and if you fully understand the process of scientific discovery, then you know that it rarely happens “on demand.” Science has its own dynamics, including a hypothesis and an empirical experiment, which make for a grueling and often slow process full of detours and retractions.
Right now, a rigorous science of creativity is still emerging. In fact, it’s a miracle we’re able to comprehend anything about creativity, knowing that our precise understanding of high mental processes is still in its infancy.
Here are some challenges we’re currently facing in the field of creativity research:
Supply and Demand
The biggest problem in the more “mainstream” side of popular creativity studies comes from a mismatch between supply and demand. While there is a high demand for definitive answers to questions like “How does one foster creativity?” and “What makes some people more creative than others?” the supply, or a systematic and rigorous knowledge of the subject matter, is often limited, vague or incomplete.
So who is driving this demand? The eager audience comes from two sources: education and business. Smart and caring teachers know all too well that in order for kids to compete and succeed in the new, unknown world before us (a place that is increasingly more fast-paced and technology-driven than ever before), they must foster skills like mental flexibility, open-mindedness and the ability to come up with ingenious solutions to problems. We have no clue what jobs will be available for next generations, therefore nurturing creativity in students is a safe bet for the future. Creativity, to teachers, seems to be the last bastion of natural human excellence, especially when pitted against automation.
Simultaneously, the business world is interested in fostering creativity for their bottom line. It’s simply much cheaper (and more cost-effective) to retain the employees they already have and support those employees’ creativity skills than continuously rotate their workforce. However, creativity and open-mindedness diminish proportionally to the time employees work in a particular field. While they will gain experience and knowledge about their industry after enough time, the more employees settle and become comfortable with the status quo, the more they produce routine solutions and become less innovative…