1. An itty bitty BIG Problem

    By Costa Michailidis

    While creative ability in the US declines, the challenges that require creativity are increasing in size, complexity, and quantity. In the past, even a mere half-century ago, problems that we faced on a daily basis had fairly predictable solutions. Most manufacturing jobs could be summed up as the routine execution of a handful of tasks. Today, the challenges we face have far less predictable answers. Software engineers are constantly inventing new solutions to programming challenges. Health care professionals are taking more challenges diseases and an aging population. Teachers are faced with the obstacle of educating their students for jobs that don’t exist yet. These challenges, and most others today require Creativity to solve. Bad news: there is less and less creativity going around.

    What is Creativity?

    We often think of creativity as an intangible, sometimes even magical, property. You either have it, or you don’t. It can’t be quantified, broken down, measured or improved. Some ancient civilizations even believed creativity (or genius) was a spirit that possessed you and helped you to produce creative work. Perhaps we won’t ever fully comprehend creativity, but over the last half century, psychologists and other researchers have uncovered incredible insights that reveal a little bit about how that magical property works. Aspects of creativity have been identified, measured, even improved. One of the earlier researchers in the field of Creative Studies, Ellis Paul Torrance, created an assessment that measures Divergent Thinking, a critical skill needed to think creatively.

    "The Creativity Crisis"

    In 1958, the first Torrence Tests for Creative Thinking (TTCT) were conducted with Minnesota elementary school students. Since then researchers have followed up with longitudinal studies. The verdict: In the US, creativity peaked in 1990. A Newsweek article, titled The Creativity Crisis, explains the details.

    Science isn’t alone in concluding that creativity is declining. The most watched TED Talk in the last two years is titled Schools Kill Creativity.

    Creativity may be in decline, but what does it matter?

    Faster World, Tougher Challenges

    The world is changing at an accelerating pace, and as things change we must adapt to survive. Adaptation, in essence, is the ability to solve new problems, and the class of problems that we’re beginning to face puts 20th century challenges to shame. The Climate Crisis, Peak Oil, and a Global Water Shortage, are some chief challenges highlighted by the Arlington Institute. For a deep dive into the top ten challenges facing humanity, check out a TED Talk by Stephen Petranek titled 10 Ways The World Could End.

    Creativity is declining, and our challenges are getting bigger and more complicated. It’s like we’ve leaped off a cliff and the ground is rising up to meet us.

    What to Do?

    The pace of change is so fast that we can’t foresee the problems we’ll need to solve tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean we won’t need to solve them. What we need to do is get better at problem solving, and creativity is key!

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    Posted: 2 years ago
  2. Why is it so Damn Hard to Find Time to be Creative? - Part 1

    By Sharon Walsh

    A common excuse for not being creative is not having enough time. Actually, it is hard to find time to do lots of things. Being creative often falls to the bottom of our to-do list. We all know that being creative is a good thing, something that we want, yet, we are full of excuses for why we don’t.

    Looking at what we know about creativity can help us understand why it is high on our list of desires, yet, finding the time to be creative is so challenging. Creativity helps us adapt to the changing world. While we might want to be lazy and always do the same thing (which probably would get boring anyway) - but the world around us doesn’t let that be possible. Since our environment changes, we have to change too. And we want to grow and develop as people in our personal and professional lives.

    So why don’t we find the time? What are those pesky excuses that we come up with that hold us back? And what benefits do these excuses give us?

    • Many people prefer to focus on getting things done. Implementation is increasingly important in today’s society. At home and work, more and more is demanded of us which requires us to be highly task focused. Just stepping back and considering the full scope of objectives can ensure that we are getting the right things done.

    • We think that being creative takes a long time. We are so busy with obligations that we think we don’t have time to think. The irony of this is that creative thinking can save us time by helping us think through the what we are doing to be more efficient and effective.

    • We are afraid of the unknown. Ambiguity of the future path leads to uncertainly, discomfort and fear. Even when we think that a different way might be better, we sometimes choose to stay the course.

    • We don’t think we have the permission to do things differently. We live in a hierarchical world and may feel that we don’t have the responsibility to challenge the status quo. Or we may feel that it is just easier not to change things. After all, when doing new things it takes more time.

    In future posts, we will be delving into these areas in more depth.

    Click here to read part 2.

    Click here to read part 3.

    Click here to read part 4.

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    Posted: 2 years ago
  3. "We are continually faced by great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems"

    - Lee Iacocca

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    Posted: 3 years ago