Is creativity the right thing for everyone? It depends on how you look at it.
Creativity is Amoral
Mark Runco, a respected creativity researcher and executive director of the Torrance Center for Creativity and Talent Development at the University of Georgia also says that creativity is amoral. He writes
“…moral action is sometimes defined as “doing the right thing,” but “right” assumes a value system, and that means that the action is consistent with existing values. Doing the
right thing might therefore preclude creativity, given that creativity requires originality. It may be novelty, uniqueness, unusualness, or rarity, but in some way all creativity requires originality. One complication, then, is that too often moral action is tied to the status quo, while creative action is contrarian or at least highly unusual” ( The Continuous Nature of Moral Creativity, in Morality, Ethics and Gifted Minds, Springer, 2009. p.107)
Is it possible that when we encourage people to use their creativity, say, during World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15 – 21, to make the world a better place and make their place in the world better too that it rubs some people the wrong way because they perceive using their creativeness as immoral?
Values are different from group to group: what’s important and treasured in one culture or society may be perceived as taboo or forbidden in another. Perhaps there are taboos associated with creativity in different culture groups that have yet to be fully explored.
Creativity in different cultures: a small sample
At the Creative Problem Solving Institute in Buffalo, many years ago, I spoke to as many people as I could from nations around the world asking about creatiivty in their culture.
A Greek let me know that people aren’t creative, it’s God who is, and that all creativity comes from him. An Egyptian said the same thing. I began to consider what practices and beliefs we might be challenging when encouraging people to access their creativeness. Cultural relativism is an important lens to use.
Innovation okay in business, creativeness not?
In business, energy for innovation is okay; energy for creativity, not-so much. Taboo? Forbidden?
- Innovation maintains the status quo using systems, structures, measures and thinking directed to support a positive economic outcome.
- Creativity, on the other hand, speaks to the human spirit, and giving free reign to the unlimited imaginative potential, without necessarily bringing it back to the bottom line.
We’ll certainly need the power of creative imagination to dream up ways business will be more relevant in months and years to come.“
“To develop great, innovative products or services that are sustainable and life giving, you have to use your creativeness.”
Bottom line: How to include people in the process of creating the new future who may believe using creativity is immoral?