Change Implementation Techniques for Forming Transitional Team, Creating Alignment, Maximizing Connectedness and Creativity

Technique 6.3 Eleven Misconceptions about Creativity

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There are many misconceptions about creativity. Do you suffer from any of 11 misconceptions mentioned below? Tick the "yes" or "no" column




1. Creativity is a natural talent and cannot be taught


2. To be creative, one needs a high IQ


3. Creativity comes from rebels only


4. The young are more creative than the old


5. Only right brain thinking is required in creativity


6. Craziness is required


7. Creativity is only about the big jump


8. Only individuals can be creative


9. Creativity only occurs outside work


10. Need to be an expert in the field of study


11. Failure has no part in creativity


NB The higher the number of "no" answers, the less misconceptions about creativity

Notes on the answers

1. Creativity is a natural talent and cannot be taught (it is a process - creativity does not exist independently in people's heads; it always depends on a particular context)

2. To be creative, one needs a high IQ

3. (intelligence and creativity are not necessarily linked, and intelligence correlates with creativity only up to a point. Once you have enough intelligence to do your job, the relationship no longer holds)

4. Creativity comes from rebels (the conformists are catching up ‐ need a willingness to take calculated risks and the ability to think in non-traditional ways)

5. The young are more creative than the old (age is not a clear predictor of creative potential. Expertise associated with age can help or hinder creativity. Expertise enables you to perceive patterns in order or meaning that are invisible to the novice. On other hand, seasoned experts sometimes find it difficult to see or think outside established patterns). There is a misconception that as we get older we become less creative and innovative. Yet US studies (Economist, 2012) show otherwise, ie

- the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity amongst people is between those aged 55 to 64 and the lowest rate among 20 to 34-year-olds

- those aged 55 to 64 accounted for almost 23% of new entrepreneurs in 2010 as against 15% in 1996

- the average age of Nobel Prize winners in chemistry, medicine and physics is higher than winners around 100 years ago

Some examples include

- Ray Kroc was in his 50s when he started McDonald's franchise system

- Colonel Sanders was in his 60s when he started Kentucky Fried Chicken

- Leonard Cohen, guitarist and songwriter, is producing some of his best work in his 70s

- the Rolling Stones are still touring in their 60s

6. Right brain vs. left brain thinking (we need whole brain thinking)

7. Craziness is required (as opposed to provocation)

8. Big jump or small jump (need both)

9. Individual or group (need both)

10. Creativity exists outside of time and circumstance (most examples don't fit the pattern - creativity is inextricably linked to symbolic knowledge)

11. Need to be an expert (most important innovations can come from outsiders eg cotton gin by law graduate Eli Whitney; hydrofoil by a French Priest; hydraulic jack by a cabinet maker. Some others include

- Jeff Bezos (hedge fund analyst), not a traditional book seller, founded an online bookstore Amazon;

- Pierre Omidyar (software developer), not a traditional auction house background, built an auction site called eBay)

Furthermore, "beginners" are the best at having a challenge everything attitude, as they

- have not been indoctrinated into the culture of the workplace

- do not know all the rules and rationales

12. Failure is part of creativity and innovation, and linked with success.

"... if you want to succeed, double your failure rate..."

Tom Watson quoted by Robert Kriegel et al, 1996

Mistakes need to be seen as part of the learning process, ie they help us to rethink, re-conceptualise and re-strategise.

"...If you're not making mistakes, you are not trying anything new..."

Robert Kriegel et al, 1996

(sources: Neville Smith et al, 1990; Loren Gary, 1999; Robert Kriegel et al, 1996 ; The Economist, 2012)


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