Creative Problem Solving: Increasingly Valuable but Misunderstood
Discussions about creative intelligence are ever more frequent, the accompanying skill sets sought after more and more in all sectors of society. The ability to think creatively has always been highly valued, but it is increasingly becoming an essential skill that everyone in a diverse array of fields from science and engineering to business and education must demonstrate.
Applying creative potential on a wide scale is certainly a vital component of socioeconomic growth, but simply employing more people in the creative industries is not the answer. Cultivating associated skills in fields where creativity is not traditionally viewed as a defining approach to growth is likely to make the biggest impact. The problems begin, however, with the fact that many of us feel unsure as to what this seemingly intangible concept really means on an individual level in everyday life.
Adobe Systems Inc, the computer software company that brought the world the PDF document format among other powerful tools, recently conducted a worldwide study on the way people view creativity individually and in society (http://tinyurl.com/777jxaf). They asked 5,000 individuals in 5 different countries (United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Japan) a series of questions. Their results were startling. Among the most prominent findings, it was concluded that creative potential is viewed as something that must be “unlocked,” that less than half of people surveyed globally view themselves as creative, and finally that only 1 in 4 people feel they are living up to their creative potential.
The biggest reason behind the differences seen in the demand for and delivery of creative thinking likely stem from a misconception about its meaning. It is easy to think of creativity as only applicable to the disruptive and paradigm shifting achievements of extraordinary people like Mozart, Einstein, and Leonardo DaVinci. When viewed in this way, we understandably feel inadequate and unable to relate to these sensational feats of the mind. As a result, most people are lead to the conclusion that first, they are not creative individuals, and second, that they will never know how to be. But creativity is not in any way exclusive to special people doing special things. It is time to dissolve this narrow and misguided conception, and to view creativity for what it really is: solving everyday problems in novel, efficient, and elegant ways.
Creativity is not a trait that remains unusable until it is magically “unlocked.” Because humans exhibit innate creative potential in the form of exploratory behavior and associative thinking, fostering creative intelligence is based on the practical approach of developing and applying novel ideas. While there are an ever increasing number of articles and self-development books that use buzzword concepts like creativity and innovation, our approach at the Copenhagen Institute of NeuroCreativity is founded in empirical evidence and our research driven background. Investigating how creative ideas are developed by studying the cognitive and neurological processes occurring in the brain enables a more complete understanding of how creative intelligence can be trained and better applied.
In fact, our research demonstrates that simply arming individuals with the awareness about the neural networks that enables the formation of remote associations allow them to increase their divergent thinking ability. Reaching a creative solution to a given problem is not only about divergent ideation, however; our research indicates that a carefully controlled balance between divergence and convergence in thought processes is essential.
-The CINC Team