Tag Archives: creativity

On the Importance of Not Thinking

I’m sure there’s a number of academic texts, TED talks and management or innovation books about the importance of NOT thinking to creativity and innovation.

I haven’t seen any of them.

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with problem solving. I love solving them. My managers hate HOW I solve them.  When I hit a thorny knot, I bypass it. When I’m stuck, I just stop thinking about the problem, put it down and work on something else.  Whether it’s a creative or technical task, I’ve always found that if a key insight doesn’t come right away, I have to stop and just let me head take it over, while I focus on something else. I’ve as yet to be let down.

High Speed

High Speed

Sometimes what pops back is the entirety of the answer. Sometimes it’s a window into it. Rarely, it’s nothing, which – after 2-3 days, indicates I need more data to crunch the problem. Or the problem is ill-defined. I’ve learned that rarely is the answer “it can’t be done.”  The answer is always yes. The solution comes down to time and money.

I have NO insight into what’s going on, but I can say it’s not a black box. It’s more of a gray box where I look into from time to time as the problem is crunched away. While it’s a bit of a mystery, I’ve just chalked it up to how my head works through knots.  While I do recognize that there’s a pell-mell push in today’s world where everything is mach schnell, I draw comfort – and inspiration – from speakers that have recognized – we have to slow down.

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Intermezzo: On Creativity

Creativity for me has always been something of a bugaboo. I’m not speaking about out-of-the-box thinking – that’s par for the course and I’m surprised as often as I surprise there. I certainly don’t have all the answers but at least my questions lead to more interesting answers. Even if they’re sometimes the uncomfortable questions no one wants to ask.

The creativity I’m talking about is just that – the power to create. Some apply flame to metal and come out with some amazing sculptures. Others pen to paper and viola – art. I am at best a poor, squinty eyed sketch artist. My forte has always been writing and it has taken a lot of effort – and practice – separating academic, professional and my tendency to want to be a creative writing in everything I do.
I didn’t take it as challenge or a game. But I asked questions – lots of questions. And I asked for comments – pulled them like teeth if I had to. Until I slowly, iteratively got my styles into place. While I’ll readily admit I tend to want to fall back to creative writing and flowery turns of phrase I can at least catch myself doing it and correct it before a final draft. Thankfully, at least according to my critics, I’ve been able to maintain an engaging style even as I drive to further succinctness.

But what is it about creativity that makes it so confoundedly elusive. Yes, its work, whole frames don’t just pop into head. You chew on it with your brain-teeth. You gnash and snap at it. Then when you stop thinking about it completely – pop – it’s in your head. The subconscious kept working on it.

I wonder, is that how creativity is for everyone.