Creativity Without Brainstorming Ideas

Developmental Systems Theory to Innovation

Can creativity be separated from brainstorming ideas?

What if the way out of the limits of the “Creativity = Ideation” model was to abandon the paradigm?

And go from:
“Creativity is a trait and ability of an individual (who typically displays originality, imagination, and expressiveness) to produce or develop original work, theories, techniques, or thoughts.” (from APA Psychology Dictionary)

“Creativity is a worldly phenomenon in which novelty emerges — and one that humans, amongst others, can actively engage.”

Creativity is not an exclusively human activity. And when it involves us — it is still more-than-human

Once this shift is experimentally made to a non-anthropocentric creativity a whole new world of possibilities opens up to us:

One critical area of research that opens up is evolutionary theory. Evolutionary debates are a great place to search for innovation models — for evolution is a radical process of continuous disruptive creativity that happens quite well without any brainstorming of big ideas.

Where to start?
There are many places — but we are drawn to two: The Ontogeny of Information by Susan Oyama, and The Structure of Evolutionary Theory by Stephen Jay Gould.

If we had to pick one book to start this experiment it would be Susan Oyama’s. She developed a powerful and transformative alternative to the gene centered view of evolution by proposing a systems approach: Developmental Systems Theory. It is, at its most general, a powerful provocation to any single-source theory of innovation or creativity.

As an experiment we tried crossing out the words related to evolution and replacing them with innovation terms — it is quite provocative what emerges:

  • Innovation has no single locus of emergence
  • Innovative outcomes are co-created by the contexts in which they unfold

We made a quick sketch — how would you edit it?

on What Is Innovation, and How to Innovate

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