Spreading the Word of Creativity
Gregg Fraley © 2008
This article is a plea for something I call Creangelism, or creative evangelism. Let me explain.
I speak at the coolest creativity conferences in the world*. It’s incredible fun speaking and being with people who believe in the power of creativity and creative problem solving. Walking around the meetings I am empowered by the lack of judgment, the acceptance of ideas, the acceptance of me, and frankly, the love that I feel coming from everyone. When I return from these conferences re-entry into the real world is sometimes quite a shock.
The real world is full of judgment, non-acceptance, ignorance, and downright cruelty. Creativity is a remote thought for the vast majority of people. Everyone is creative, but not everyone uses their creativity, in fact, it’s an unopened treasure chest of the most useful resource we all have.
The re-entries from creativity conferences to the “real” world got me thinking about who’s interested in creativity and who’s not. It got me thinking of who needs more creativity and who already has an ample amount. It got me thinking about who reads creativity and innovation books, who reads books about imagination, and who reads books about problem solving. It got me thinking about those people whose most adventurous reading is a romance novel, a comic book, or nothing at all.
It occurs to me that the world is divided into two. On one side we have educated people who read books about imagination, creativity, marketing, innovation, etc. They get on well with each other mostly. They have problems, but they have resources, they cope, they conquer, they thrive. Ask them if they are creative and they’ll say, oh yeah, sure, that’s me.
On the other side we have people struggling with everyday things. Things like making enough money to pay the rent and put food on the table. They are either barely coping, or in fact, are failing, and sliding down the ladder into a sea of hopelessness and helplessness. They don’t read books about creativity – furthest thing from their mind. Do they need creativity and creative thinking? In the worst possible way! Do they think they are creative? Generally, no.
Books about creativity, generally speaking, preach to the choir of those already believing, already empowered. They seek improvement and good on them, but they are polishing silver as opposed to making a fork. They are refining their creative thinking tools and techniques.
The people who need to learn creative thinking the most are the ones who are least likely to stumble across it, least likely to hear the word.
Creative thinking is the ultimate self-empowerment tool. The sad news is that most creative people keep it to themselves. They don’t teach others, don’t take the tool to the people who need it most. I call for creative people to be Creangelists, that is, spread the word of how to think more creatively, to the world. Yes, creative thinking can be taught. Ask those who have gotten the training how it has impacted their lives. Like religious evangelists sometimes the message will not be received well, so, we must not preach. We must show people how to think more creatively by helping them solve the challenges of their lives. Not by solving them, but by revealing how to think up their own solutions.
It’s like a micro loan of ideas.
I tried Creangelism with newly released prisoners in Chicago. I mentored several guys and one in particular was open enough to give creative thinking a try. He was about 40 at the time, and had been in prison for 20 years. Life on the outside was scary and new. We met for coffee and we worked through his early serious challenges, finding work, finding decent housing, dealing with relationships, etc. using creative thinking techniques. I believe he learned how to solve his own problems in large part due to these working creative problem solving sessions. Six years later he’s a qualified electrician with his own business. He has a specialty of installing big screen televisions and he can’t handle all the work he’s getting. Right now he’s hiring. Of course, it doesn’t always work out this way. But by teaching this man how to fish I gave him a tool to feed himself for the rest of his life.
So, if you are creative, share your knowledge of creative process with those who need it. Be a Creangelist.
* Like the Creative Problem Solving Institute (CPSI), the European Creativity Association (CREA), and the American Creativity Association (ACA)
Gregg is the author of Jack’s Notebook, a Business Novel About Creative Problem Solvingpublished in March 2007. It’s the first business fable about deliberate creative problem solving and personal innovation. The book reveals “CPS” a proven six-step process for addressing complex business or personal innovation challenges. CPS training is expensive and not widely available. Now, with a fast-paced and inspirational story, Jack’s Notebook is becoming to the field of creativity and innovation what The Goal was to the manufacturing industry. It gives innovation teams and small companies a common language for problem solving and a complete system for taking ideas into action. Fraley is a recognized expert on creativity and innovation; he speaks internationally and consults with many Fortune 500 companies on new product development. He is the co-host of the Innovise Guys, a leading podcast on innovation and improvisation. For more information about Jack’s Notebook or Gregg’s consulting or speaking services, visitwww.greggfraley.com or email him directly – firstname.lastname@example.org