"Emergence denotes the presence of properties, features, behaviors, or capacities that appear in systems but are not easily traceable to their component parts.” ~ G. Tomlinson

This quality of “not being easily traceable to a specific source” defines emergence. In some cases of emergence, it is fundamentally impossible to trace events back to sources — the feature in these cases is truly an emergent property of the whole.

From the “parts,” a whole emerges. And this “whole” becomes distinct from and irreducible to the parts. And ultimately, the “whole” starts to shape the parts.

In regards to creativity, this is a radical shift: no longer can we point to a single instant, source, or individual and say they invented this — they are the creator — rather, we now have the conceptual tools to both understand and, more importantly, do creativity differently.

Understanding emergence in detail offers us a whole new set of tools to approach creative processes without falling back on individualism and the hunt for ideas.

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on What Is Innovation, and How to Innovate

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