A Creative Tapestry

July 23rd, 2017 / By Mary Ventrella

A Creative Tapestry

Creativity is considered the most desirable 21st century skill and vital to the life of an organization (Pink, 2005); therefore, successful leaders recognize that creativity is critical in any kind of organizational environment (Amabile, Schatzel, Moneta & Kramer, 2004).

Definition of Creativity

Creativity is defined as the production of new ideas or novel solutions to problems (Puccio, Murdock & Mance, 2005; Amabile, 1983; Stein, 1974). The main theme in many definitions of creativity is that the creator has a relationship with the process, and that the product is novel and useful to the environment (Langer, 2005; Sternberg & Lubart, 1995; Weisberg, 1986). Creativity is a relational process with self, others and systems.

4 P’s of Creativity

Rhodes’ framing of the 4 P’s of Creativity uses Person, Process, Press and Product as headings to describe the workings of creativity. As the creator, some “Person” is the source, the originator of any creative idea (Rhodes, 1961). How do you view your impulse and attitude toward creating? And is creativity an awareness and an integral act in your endeavours and aspirations?

The “Process” of creativity is ones muse, or sense of inspiration (Loori, 2005) that gives the artist, inventor, designer, problem-solver and teacher or leader free expression of thoughts, emotions and reflections. The process of creativity values the building blocks over the end product. The creative process forms a bridge from present to future when we reflect on relationships and plan endeavours. All systems involved directly or indirectly form a collective muse that inspires concepts and relationships. Engaging in the process means being mindful of relationship to concepts, ideas and relationships that are sources of inspiration.

Press is the term Rhodes uses to describe the relationship a person has to the environment; for example, the connection to places, family values, traditions, culture and organization. Societal influences have a significant impact on creativity (Rhodes, 1961). The space itself, plus the social environment of schools, home, workplaces, workshops, recreations and ceremonies all contribute to a culture of relational practice. The social environment needs to provide a nurturing place for ideas to flow freely without judgment. The creative environment of conversation and listening to fascinating ideas promotes dialogue and allows relationships to develop. Explore your environment and relationships and how they contribute to your creativity.

Product is the result of the creative process and by definition is useful in the social context and is easy to measure because there is a tangible end result (Rhodes, 1961; Amabile, 1988). The end result demonstrates the results of the creative process. What product do you believe will meet a need in relationships and/or social context? Explore the evolution of products and how you relate to them.

Creativity in Practices

Without creativity our daily practices can easily default to standard and stale routines. Creativity gives rise to fresh approaches and makes the greatest difference to success in your desires and goals.  The Torrance Model offers ways to develop creative skills that we can integrate in relationships as well as teach to others; for example, the skill “Produce and Consider Many Alternatives” is about going beyond the obvious and producing a variety of possible solutions, ideas or options and is thus more likely to have more viable, successful solutions (Burnett & Figliotti, 2015). Allowing yourself to broaden your thinking in a way that makes connections, and seeking novelty without judgement will expand your possibilities.

How to Consider, Produce and Implement Alternatives in Your Creative Process

  1. Explore more than one way of engaging with others who are important to you.
  2. Allow yourself, others and workplace to explore “What if…” thinking.
  3. Practice brainstorming with others, colleagues and community.
  4. Ask yourself and others to redefine a problem.
  5. Ask yourself to express ideas and feelings in alternative ways other than using words.
  6. Explore different relationships that have demonstrated productive alternatives to a problem.
  7. Ask yourself, relationships and colleagues to record many different solutions on sticky notes.
  8. Ask yourself what practices you have been doing for a long time and explore fresh ideas to meet the same need or goal.
  9. During team meetings, ask the group for alternative ways to interact and still meet the same goals.
  10. Explore alternative ways to promote your relationships.

Have fun and promote creativity in relationships. Integrate an awareness of creativity in your life. And take the time to see relationships as opportunities to explore creativity.