Managing Creativity revisited

Today I went back and had a look at something I wrote at the height of the boom. While some of the quotes I used look a little creaky, the central argument seems just as relevant today as it did then. Take a look here and let me know what you think. Here’s a chunk as a sample:
5 Capabilities
Creativity is often described as a problem-solving activity. The problem with problem-solving is that it focuses on what is rather than what could be. If we want to do things differently rather than better we have to learn to search for the capabilities in any situation. Instead of identifying problems we will have to open ourselves to potentials. Instead of a world of fixed unchanging categories we will have to learn to see the world as more fluid, more open to change, and, ultimately, more mysterious. The trick we have to learn is to balance our habits, our experience, with the fresh and the new. We have to find ways of making the familiar strange to us. We have to tune in to the mysteriousness of the everyday. It is here that play and playful activities assume their role. Play releases us from a hardening of the categories. Play is the tool that allows us to see the capabilities concealed in the familiar.

“The great landscape gardener, Lancelot Brown, when confronted with a client’s estate, did not say “what is your problem?”, he asked “what are the capabilities of this piece of land?”. Optimism, generality, and scope flowed where otherwise all would have been pessimism, specificity, and narrowness. That is what is wrong with conventional wisdom: not enough Capability Browns and too many Problematic Tom, Dicks and Harrys.”
Michael Thompson “Rubbish Theory: The creation and destruction of value, Oxford University Press, 1979: pp51
“To think of design as ‘problem-solving’ is to use a rather dead metaphor for a lively process and to forget that design is not so much a matter of adjusting the status quo as of realising new possibilities and discovering our reactions to them.”
J.Christopher Jones, ” Design Methods: seeds of human futures”, 1980 edition, John Wiley & Sons, 1980, ppxxiii

One thought on “Managing Creativity revisited”

  1. This is right on. Problem solving essentially keeps you “in the box” because of the very nature of the context for problem solving. Yet we are unfortunately addicted to solving problems – a habit of mind that limits our potential as you point out. I guess that is why this post is still so relevant today!

Comments are closed.