The Transformative Power of Digital Networks
Nothing since the printing press has changed our world more than the spread of digital networks, running on the backbone of technology. Then came 2020 and a global pandemic, pushing most of the world into an intense period of change never experienced before - impacting every aspect of our lives.
The Pandemic's Acceleration of Change
The pandemic has resulted in rapid advances in medicine, education, and work, changes that were already underway. Like Gutenberg’s press or the explorers who discovered new routes for trade, these changes have opened new ways for humans to connect, share information, and influence one another.
We tend not to crave change. In the past, when we were forced to change, it was usually to survive. Today, change is seen as a necessary and positive ingredient in many aspects of our lives. This doesn’t make embracing, fostering, or encouraging change any easier.
The Role of Creativity in Guiding Innovation
Rapid innovation without the guiding light of creativity could direct us into dangerous territory. What is creativity, and why is it important?
From "Human Motivation, 3rd ed." by Robert E. Franken, creativity is defined as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others.
People are motivated to be creative for three reasons: 1) the need for novel, varied, and complex stimulation; 2) the need to communicate ideas and values; 3) the need to solve problems.
Understanding and Nurturing Creativity
To be creative, you need to view things in new ways or from a different perspective. You need to generate new possibilities or alternatives.
Tests of creativity measure not only the number of alternatives people can generate but also the uniqueness of those alternatives. The ability to generate alternatives or to see things uniquely does not occur by chance; it is linked to qualities of thinking, such as flexibility, tolerance of ambiguity or unpredictability, and the enjoyment of things heretofore unknown.
We must ensure that shifts in our world are coupled with thinking that can imagine alternate pathways and apply empathy and problem-solving skills that generally lie within the toolset of the creative mind.
Creativity as a Key Ingredient for Growth
Creativity is not a fringe talent or skill. It is a key ingredient for growth, evolution, and advancement.
A creative spirit, process, culture, or value adds a tremendous advantage to any system it becomes a core tenet of.
When building your company’s team, selecting partners for a startup, choosing where to take a new job, or looking for investment opportunities, examine closely how creativity is spoken about, valued, and integrated into the overall culture of the group.
Steve Jobs on Creativity
Steve Jobs claimed that “creativity is just connecting things.”
To achieve higher levels of creativity, you need to have more things to connect. Fill your life and mind with new and different experiences, thoughts, and moments — these will become the rich pallet you can refer to as you allow those connections to happen.
Completely unrelated curiosities should be honored, whimsical urges should be followed, as these will lead you to new ways of thinking and making new kinds of connections.
Diversity as a Critical Ingredient
This is why diversity - in our businesses, our lives, and our realities - is a critical ingredient to better outcomes. Look around you. Are you surrounded by a team that sees the world differently than you do? Do you regularly interact with people from different racial and economic groups, cultural origins, or geographic locations?
Encourage your thinking to be challenged by diverse perspectives. Be self-aware enough to recognize the trappings of a non-inclusive bubble.
Invoking Creativity and Diversity for a Better World
One of our greatest gifts as humans is to be the owners of each decision we make — conscious of our actions and thoughts, and fully aware of possible outcomes.
If we want to be better, we must invite creativity and diversity into the conversation so that we can do better. If we want the world to be better, we need to invoke these aspects of our humanity and elevate them to the highest pinnacles of respect and acknowledgment.
By tapping into what truly makes us special as a species, we can unleash our most powerful and compelling superpower — creativity.