Monday, June 3, 2013

Creativity to taste

How many of us get this request at work "I made something. Can you add some creativity to this?"

How would you like it if you went to a restaurant and the chef said, "I made a dish, please add salt to it?"

Yet that is how we expect it to work and think we are doing a great job of it.

If our work life was a recipe and there was a salt equivalent to it - then creativity would be it. People would write the work recipe as "Add creativity to taste". Just the way they treat salt. Without salt, your dish would be bland, almost inedible in most cases. Also salt does some wonderful things - it does not just make your dish salty.It does wonderful things to food. The trick is when to add salt - you cannot always add it at the end and that is a technique in itself.

Which is the same thing with creativity. Creativity is not an add-on. If it has not existed in the thought process, very unlikely that it will exist at the end when someone who has no clue about your thought process is asked to make it creative. If you do this, the very least you can do is to let your creative salt adder ask questions. If not, well, be happy with your insipid product and get on with it. If you think that creativity belongs to the artist types - those who will come in and that dash of creativity to your project that will suddenly make it a work of art - then all the best to you.

And if that is what you do, most likely, that creativity would be a distraction. As Edward Tufte says, most likely, that creativity is being used to construct decorations - and not decorate your construction. The difference need not be explained, but if  you dont 'get' it, you are probably doing the above - getting someone to garnish your insipid dish with creative onions.

Creativity is all about the process. It is about re-imagining the thing that you are putting together - or imagining in the first place. It is about questioning, at every stage, if there is a better way to do it - better for your customers and usually better for yourself - not just the latter. It is also opening up to a different world view - among other things.

Think about it the next time you want 'creativity to taste'

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