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.
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?
Happy to share this video with you – it’s the 15-minute Ted-like speech I gave in Buffalo this past fall at the Creativity Expert Exchange in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the International Center for Studies in Creativity, my alma mater.
The founding of WCID is shared, as is the tale of how the day became a United Nations Day of Observance and why that is important. Spoiler alert: it’s centered on using creativity in problem-solving especially with regard to meeting the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Imagine applying creative thinking and creative evaluation to assess and address the challenges – to find solutions that work.
Now scroll further for information on the Global Goals Interconnectedness and see what you can do to help meet any of the goals by reviewing the Global Goals List that follows.
The Global Goals are Interconnected
The goals’ interconnectedness and influences are spelled out in a paper Water, Peace and Global Security: Canada’s Place in a Changing World, delivered by R.W. Sandford, EPCOR Chair, Water and Climate Security, United Nations University, Institute for Water, Environment & Health at the University of Victoria, British Columbia Jan 23, 2018.
“All 17 of the UN’s 2030 Transforming Our World global sustainable development goals can be achieved by realizing the link between water security, climate stability and human and planetary health. Water security means clean water and sanitation for all. It also means managing water on a basin scale which means protecting aquatic ecosystems which improve life on land and life below water which leads to improvements in agriculture which will help end hunger; which also helps to end poverty.
Managing water in a manner that will help end hunger and poverty, however, cannot be achieved without industry innovation and infrastructure; but innovation and infrastructure development cannot come into existence without quality education which demands gender equity which in itself leads to reduced inequality. Quality education, gender equity, and reduced inequality lead to economic growth. It is only through economic stability that we will be able to make a smooth transition to affordable and clean energy for all which is a critical step toward climate action. Climate action will help restore planetary health thereby contributing to better physical and mental health and well-being for all.
Improved human health and well-being allows an ever more crowded world to react more proactively and be more resilient to growing public health threats like epidemic outbreaks which, in tandem with climate action will reduce the specter of large-scale forced human migration. This, in itself, will lead to peace and justice and strong institutions. Such institutions are necessary to guide humanity toward responsible production and consumption. It is only through strong institutions, responsible production and consumption, clean water, sanitation and climate action can we have sustainable cities and communities.
Making and acting upon the link between water security, climate stability and human and planetary health will demand the creation of the new kinds of partnerships that are necessary if we are to achieve all 17 of these global goals simultaneously. The building of such partnerships will build trust which will contribute to state and military security globally.”
*Global Goals List
1. No Poverty
This goal, which seeks to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. The UN defines extreme poverty as living on less than $1.50 a day. Perhaps most importantly, this goal includes measures to protect those who have had to leave their homes and countries as a result of conflict.
2. No Hunger The UN seeks to both improve the access that the world’s poorest have to food, and the ways in which that food is produced.
3. Good Health and Well-being This goal focuses on continuing to reduce child mortality, the health of mothers, and combating other diseases.
4. Quality Education Improving worldwide access to education is a top priority. It calls for free education through high school, rather than limiting it to primary school only.
5. Gender Equality This goal advocates for the elimination of violence and discrimination against women. It also calls on countries to improve women’s social and economic standing.
6. Clean Water and Sanitation The UN reports that by 2050, at least one in four people is likely to live in a country affected by chronic or recurring shortages of fresh water. This goal aims to improve sanitation and hygiene practices, including access to fresh water, in developing nations by 2030.
7. Affordable and Clean Energy This goal seeks to broaden both the development and use of renewable energies by 2030, the next deadline date for achieving these goals.
8. Decent Work and Economic Growth The UN is interested in both the creation of new jobs, and the development of those jobs that are sustainable enough to lift employees out of poverty. According to UN estimates, “roughly 470 million jobs are needed globally for new entrants to the labor market between 2016 and 2030.”
9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure This goal focuses primarily on the building of roads, rail systems, and telecommunications networks in the developing world.
10. Reduce Inequalities This goal aims at reducing the inequalities in income distribution among the most marginalized populations in the world, both within developed and developing nations. The UN estimates that “a significant majority of households in developing countries – more than 75 percent of the population – are living today in societies where income is more unequally distributed than it was in the 1990s.”
11. Sustainable Cities and Communities With urban populations on the rise over the past decade, the world is on a hunt for ways to house, feed, and employ that burgeoning population. This goal seeks to tackle that problem by reducing the number of people who live in slums by 2030. It also aims to reduce the pollution output coming from those urban centers.
12. Responsible Consumption and Production This goal, a continuation of Goal 6, seeks to improve the access that people in developing countries have to food and clean water, while at the same time improving how food is produced on a global scale. It also aims to address the global obesity crisis.
13. Climate Action The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals looks at quickly and efficiently reducing greenhouse-gas emissions in both developed and developing nations.
14. “Life Below Water” The UN is interested in sustainable fishing practices and protecting marine life. They estimate that nearly “40 percent of the world oceans are heavily affected by human activities, including pollution, depleted fisheries, and loss of coastal habitats.”
15. Life on Land The UN is also interested in protecting creatures on land, with an emphasis on reducing deforestation and desertification.
16. “Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions” A goal that envisions fair and free elections, as well as governmental accountability at every level. The UN estimates that “corruption, bribery, theft, and tax evasion cost some US $1.26 trillion for developing countries per year.”
17. Partnerships For the Goals In keeping with practices established with the 2000 Millennium Development Goals, the UN continues to envision a global framework of support to make sure that its goals are realized. Adapted from: https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Global-News/2015/0926/UN-s-17-global-goals-What-s-on-the-list See what you can do. Release human potential for a purpose.
Imagine your plans are less effective than you anticipated. There’s pressure to perform differently, successfully. Conditions have changed; time now to adapt or innovate. You want to overcome obstacles, use creativity, and creative thinking. You want to access imagination, dream up what could be next, chart a different course, engage interested parties, and marshall resources to achieve results. You want new outcomes, new ideas, new decisions, new actions. So, what’s the first thing you do? Perhaps go to experts, listen to what they say. Perhaps you survey others to see if they have the same challenge and how they handle it. Perhaps you listen to podcasts about changes and trends that affect how you operate. You might call together a group of colleagues to brainstorm insights. You could use a design thinking or other creative problem-solving process to uncover missing gaps from which to gain an advantage. You might look for inefficiencies at the macro and micro levels. Whatever your process, you find something that could work. Brava! Now, what if, after all your effort, your colleagues use critical thinking first, and say the solution won’t work. End of story. Then what? You might feel dejected, sad, hurt. You might decide you haven’t the courage to do it again, to submit new thinking to solve new problems. You might make up a story about why your ideas weren’t accepted, take it personally or blame others. Your behavior might change as a result in ways that impact your overall performance and attitude towards your organization, your boss, your teammates. What if instead, your colleagues respond to new ideas in ways that support your creative thinking? Innovation is really about the people involved and how they work together, with the intended audience. Innovation is about people. One aspect of World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15 – 21 is to remember to apply new thinking to new thinking – to discuss and/or hold conversations about new ideas rather than to immediately criticize them. Here’s a four-step process you can use with colleagues, friends, clients, suppliers, children and other people with whom you regularly interact during WCIW this year. Do this, and you will honor, encourage and help facilitate people’s creative thinking. You can use the Angel’s Advocate approach:
Affirm first – say what’s good about the idea (even if you don’t like it – stretch your thinking)
Future potentials – say what some positive potentials might be for this idea in the long run (even if you don’t like it – stretch your thinking)
Objections and obstacles – mention your concerns and the idea’s limitations
Strengthen the relationship – in dialogue, talk about ways to overcome concerns, to strengthen or modify the solution, discuss how well this fits the challenge, and/or problem-solve the findings together.
Share how you are contributing to World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15-21, to help acknowledge, support and release creative energy worldwide.
Scarcity is attractive. Research shows imposed limits motivate people to act: consumers are led to purchase using phrases ‘limited time offer’, ‘ first 30 people get a 30% discount’, and ‘only 100 left’ for example. [Other scarcities such as clean water, nourishing food, arable land, honeybees, and so on are also motivating people to take action.] Creativity is not scarce. It is common. I was quoted once saying, “if you breathe, you create”. Remove the scarcity of creativity, the common beliefs that some have it, others don’t, or some people are more creative than others, and so on, and creativity may become less attractive. Except… Creativity signals a restlessness to improve conditions. To explore, discover, experiment, question. We create because we are members of the human race, and the human race is filled with passion. It’s human nature to use the power of imagination to adapt to and initiate change for the better. Once we have the idea, insight, framework, ability to compare what can be with what used to be, we gather with others to innovate; to make it so. Celebrate World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15-21 this year, and every year. Share how you’ll be exercising your passion for new, different, better with the world.
Passion Comment adapted from Dead Poet’s Society: We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?
Feel free to use Adobe’s State of Create 2016 Report findings to fuel your inspiration to celebrate and leverage World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15-21, 2017.
“With our 2016 State of Create study, we set out to quantify just how much impact creativity has and the results are impressive. Globally, respondents believe that being creative is valuable for society, and it fuels innovation, economic growth, and even happiness. Yet, only three in 10 people feel that they are living up to their creative potential. So, the question is: why not? Why aren’t we prioritising creativity when we know it’s beneficial? The call to action for all of us is to simply take a step back and create. The bottom line is companies that encourage and empower employees to create are driving results and employees who think creatively are bound to succeed. And for students, it underscores a broader opportunity – not just what, but also how we prepare students for the real world — creativity helps businesses win.”
Mala Sharma, VP & GM of Creative Cloud Product, Marketing and Community, Adobe
“What’s the best advice you have been given (or would like to give) regarding creativity?” #wciwadvice Just off a Skype interview with We Are Unstuck in the UK about creativity in organizations. Researcher Amy Rainbow’s questions were intriguing; one in particular struck as a fulcrum for learning. How might you respond?
“What’s the best advice you have been given (or would like to give) regarding creativity?” #wciwadvice
Original / Short from Vucko on Vimeo. Creativity is natural. Allow it. Give creativity time and space. Freedom. Give it practice. Creativity means change. Notice what needs changing. What can you do about it? Creativity is not about setting standards for comparison; it is a doorway for expression, exploration, discovery, curiosity, focus, movement, stillness, play. New ideas, new decisions, new actions. New pair of eyes. Creativity takes courage to separate, if only for a moment, into a world of imagination, and remix, combine, and/or elevate old ideas to new perspectives, new times, new futures. Practice, learn, experience and grow from frustration, confusion, curiosity, clarity, joy, laughter, breakthrough, insight, aha. Creativity is natural. Allow it time and space. Freedom. Keep fresh your capacity to create and innovate. Celebrate World Creativity and Innovation Week. April 15-21 every year. Notice what needs changing. What can you do about it? List your activity for #WCIW2017. Inspire the world.
Innovate Brew is a first-of-its-kind program that randomly matches U-M faculty for 30-minute coffee meetings once a month to foster more innovative thinking on campus. So simple an idea. Perhaps an initiative to begin at your workplace for World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15 – 21?
Flexible work schedules have always attracted employees as they can allow them to balance their work and home lives from a schedule that they can create.
Source: www.androidheadlines.com The new implementation, beginning April 13, allows much more freedom in coming and going, with a few restrictions, of course – first, the must work at least four hours per day between 6 am and 10 pm – secondly, they must meet a mandatory 40 hours per week. An official PR person from Samsung said, “The new system that allows more independence and flexibility in choosing working hours is part of Samsung’s continued efforts to help each member work more efficiently and creatively under the slogan ‘Work Smart, Think Hard, Build Trust.’”
As World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15-21 approaches, watch Chef Ferran Adria’s creative process as stimulation to consider your own. What practices do you use for insight, illumination, inspiration? https://youtu.be/-3bYqCBNUuo
Open minds, hearts, eyes to new ideas, new decisions, new actions: one week worldwide