Creativity Is Not About Ideas

Crow offering a lens of perspective

When we say creativity is not about ideas by this we mean that creativity starts with an individual coming up with a novel idea in their head and then figuring out how it is put into reality.

This model - ideation for creativity has a strong dualism of inner and outer: thinking happens removed from the world and then is imposed on the world.

And in this model the inner and outer are connected by our perceptions — the analogy often used is that we see reality through our unique lense (or pair of glasses).

The things out there are always the same but how we “see” them changes.

Then the model of change becomes analogous to switching glasses — you change how you perceive things.

And then it does make sense to talk about switching mindsets, perspectives, and paradigms in the way you switch glasses to assist in gaining new perspectives to gain new ideas to be creative.

BUT, if this model is totally wrong about the what, where and how of thinking then it is also totally wrong about creativity. Here is what enactive cognition says about the relation of mind to world:

“When the constituents of a system are highly coherent, integrated, and correlated such that their properties are nonlinear functions of one another, the system cannot be treated as just a collection of uncoupled parts. Thus, the activity of strongly non-linearly coupled brain, body, and environment cannot be ultimately explained by decomposing them into subsystems, or system and background. They are one extended system.” (Chemero & Silberstein, Extending Neutral Monism to the Hard Problem 2016).

We are one extended system with our environment — there is no divide between inner and outer that is mediated by perceptions.

Brain-Body-Environment is a unit — an intra-subjective emergent holistic unit that cannot be taken apart if we are to grasp the what, where and how of thinking/creativity.

Our forms of creativity, like our forms of thinking arise from the relational emergent middle of this extended system.

New thinking happens not when we change our glasses but when the dynamics of the extended system are changed. Thinking and creativity are systems properties…

on What Is Innovation, and How to Innovate

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