Creative motivation

Sep 15 2005 by Edward de Bono Print This Article

Why should anyone try to be creative? Creativity has many risks and uncertainties. like the risk of failure and the need to persuade others. There is the need for political skills. It can be less risky to sit quietly and do what you are supposed to do.

If all is well, who needs creativity? If things are going wrong, then there is no time for the uncertainties of creativity.

If you try to be creative - and even if you use the powerful tools of lateral thinking - you cannot be sure of a result.

There is another problem. All valuable creative ideas must always be logical in hindsight - otherwise they would have no value. So it is assumed that logic could have reached the idea to begin with.

This is completely untrue in an asymmetric patterning system like the human brain. But how many people are knowledgeable about asymmetric systems? So executives expect only 'blue sky ideas' from creativity and these are then labelled impractical.

If we think of creativity as an inborn talent which some people have and others do not have, then we just look for creative people.

If we think of creativity as the 'skill' of using information in a patterning system like the brain, then everyone can develop the skill of creativity. To be sure, certain people will achieve a higher degree of skill than others - as with any skill - but this is not the same as being naturally creative. People who are not naturally creative could develop a higher degree of skill than those who are naturally creative.

Confidence is an important factor in creative effort. Those who have succeeded in having creative ideas in the past are much more willing to make an effort creatively. They know from the past that new ideas are possible. They have experienced the elation and achievement of having a new idea.

How do you build up confidence if school does not encourage creativity, and the workplace does not demand it?

The majority of people do what is expected of them. The rebellious few stray from that path. That is why we usually associate creativity with rebelliousness. But it does not have to be this way.

To get creativity into an organisation you have to make it an 'expectation'. At the end of every meeting, the chair person must set aside the last fifteen minutes to 'anyone who is exploring a new idea'. If nobody has anything to say, they are told they are not doing their job.

A creative 'Hit List' of areas which need new thinking should be produced and made visible to everyone. Executives must then work on items from this list - either as individuals or as assigned teams.

Striving to have ideas is key. If new ideas are expected, then people will make an effort to have new ideas. Their confidence will grow and sooner or later there will be a creative organisation.

It is also important to learn how you can be creative. There is a need to learn the formal skills of lateral thinking which make creativity accessible to everyone.

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About The Author

Edward de Bono
Edward de Bono

Edward de Bono (1933-2021) was a leading authority in the field of creative thinking. Over 35 years after the publication of his first book, "The Mechanism of Mind", the basic principles he outlined are now mainstream thinking in the mathematics of self-organising systems and in the design of neuro-computers. His many subsequent books have been translated into 26 languages.