Creative and/or Innovative

I was recently invited to attend a seminar on Intellectual Property Rights. It was illuminating to hear the views of so many people especially on the core aspects of intellectual property (patents, copyrights, trade marks, geographic indicators, and others).

But there seemed to be a fundamental aspect that remained muddled in many of the presentations – the difference between ‘creativity’ and ‘innovation’. It seemed to me that many speakers used the term interchangeably. Being a student of entrepreneurship it hit me hard – since the difference between the two terms makes pretty much all the difference between being an artist and an entrepreneur.

Creative – is an adjective to describe one who can come up with original and imaginative ideas to create something

AND

Innovative – is an adjective used to describe one who introduces new ideas, original and useful

The above is important to understand (easier said than done). But if one wants to understand why there is a strong argument for action in entrepreneurship – the above difference in meaning becomes critical. It is by being innovative that one turns ideas into reality. Hence entrepreneurs need to be innovative.

But – Innovative does not subsume Creative!

Many entrepreneurs (innovative) build on the ideas of others (creative) and in some cases successfully institutionalise them. We remember them for a long time through their products / services / organizations.

If you are one who teaches entrepreneurship, it is important to clearly highlight the difference between the two; help aspiring entrepreneurs appreciate the importance of the latter; and teach them the skills to identify the former. This is not the only thing that makes one an entrepreneur, but definitely eases the pressure on them to be creative at any cost.

Think about it!

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Solitude and Creativity

While it may seem contrarian that ‘solitude’ catalyses ‘creativity’; it seems to have some validity.

While I believe that spending time with oneself is a powerful way to unlock your inner potential, I have never researched on this topic. But when I came across this wonderful write-up on the topic, I could not resist myself from sharing. ‘Is Solitude the Secret to Unlocking our Creativity?’ Link: http://observer.com/2016/06/is-solitude-the-secret-to-unlocking-our-creativity/

I spend a lot of time ‘walking’ and try to spend a fair amount of time in ‘solitude’. Both of these are getting more difficult. But almost every successful and happy person (the combination is rare) I meet increases my belief in both the above activities.

As entrepreneurs, you have a need to be actively engaged in social conversations. But you also need to disconnect from your company, industry, market and be with yourself. It provides you access to your original you. It is needed to help make that unique contribution that only you can provide.

Try it. It seems to me that ‘walking’, ‘solitude’ and ‘silence’ are also the pathway to happiness. Read more on this. Think about it. Reflect and Find out for yourself.

Be Creative. Be Entrepreneurial. Be Happy.

WHERE GOOD IDEAS COME FROM

What an audacious title for a book on innovation!!

This book  by Steven Johnson is an atypical book under the category of Innovation/Business /Creativity. No review can substitute reading the book – so instead of a review I am sharing with you some of my best moments with the book .

This is one of those books where I found myself marking “WOW” many times across the margins. There were times I would close the book and set off into another world of thoughts guided by inquisitiveness that this book invoked in me. The joy of imagination is never attributed to the trigger. But here I want to share these triggers because experiences are personal.

The central premise of the book is best captured in the following sentences towards the end of the Introduction “We are often better served by connecting ideas than protecting them. Like the free market itself, the case for restricting the flow of innovation has long been buttressed by appeals to the “natural” order of things. But the truth is, when one looks at innovation in nature and in culture, environments that build walls around good ideas tend to be less innovative in the long run than more open-ended environments. Good ideas may not want to be free, but they do want to connect, fuse, recombine. They want to reinvent themselves by crossing conceptual borders. They want to complete each other as much as they want to compete.”

Good Ideas range from the most abstract scientific paradigms to pure artistic forms while also encompassing simple daily improvements. There are common properties across all these forms of creative pursuits – as there are also differences. Understanding the way in which these ‘innovators’ conceive, collaborate and innovate brings out some patterns which when recognized can lead us to being more creative.

Kleiber’s law, the 10/10 rule (a decade to build and a decade to find adoption), how it has become 1/1 rule, ideas coming from spare parts, importance of adjacencies, the beauty of carbon and its connection abilities, the proactive design of liquid networks which are meant to allow free flow of ideas, importance of hunches and allowing their evolution by writing them down, the inseparable link between reading and writing, serendipitous discoveries as a result of inter disciplinary exchanges, importance of exploring errors, the power of exaptation are just some of the points where I indulged myself to reading ecstasy. The story of the forest wetlands with beaver, woodpecker and songbirds was a WOW to understand the power of platforms.

To see the patterns in generation of ideas was amazing. What stunned me as I read was that we are moving towards a world of collaboration, free idea movement, interconnected and faster world. The power of connectedness and collaboration as explained in the book is simply superb!

The one thing that this book does NOT DO and for which I liked it that much more is that  there is no ‘To Do list’ or ‘exercises’ claiming to make you more creative. The book makes an earnest appeal to constantly tinker with what’s available so as to unlock possible doors. It leaves the control to the reader after making a strong case for being open, seeking collaboration and searching connections.

Apart from the feeling of constant WOW, I also found the following piece in the book to be a key takeaway:

“The patterns are simple, but followed together; they make for a whole that is wiser than the sum of its parts. Go for a walk; cultivate hunches; write everything down, but keep your folders messy; embrace serendipity; make generative mistakes; take on multiple hobbies; frequent coffeehouses and other liquid networks, follow the links; let others build on your ideas; borrow, recycle, re-invent. Build a tangled bank”

I enjoyed the journey with the book and I will strongly recommend this for anyone who is even remotely interested in creativity / innovation

F.R.E.S.H approach to being creative!

There are many times when you read a book and you stop in between and share what you read and struck you hard with someone special, your partner, your core team member, etc.,. It happened to me many times when I was reading this wonderful book written by Todd Henry – “The Accidental Creative”. This is a wonderful book. In recent times I have picked a number of books in the category of self-help, time management, productivity – but have not completed even one of them in full. Somewhere along the way I lost the connect – but this book kept me hooked on till the end. I completed the book and am immediately writing this.

Though the book may sound rhetorical about many things that most productivity or self-help masters preach – it is in reality nothing of that! It has one basic premise around which the book has been constructed, which is “With order comes greater / productive creativity” and I think (just as Seth Godin has said) it applies to anyone who thinks for a living. The beauty is that even though most creative people may not agree that bringing order will increase their output, I think I can’t agree more!

Todd has done a wonderful job of sitting on the shoulder of giants and helped us see beyond. Through the book, he credits people who have contributed to his thinking and how he has extended their thoughts to the work of a creative. His framework F.R.E.S.H. which stands for Focus, Relationships, Energy, Stimuli, Hours seemed quite robust. Though honestly at times I thought it was overwhelming. Why should something that is going to get you to the other end of productivity come easy – he also has never promised this in his introduction! He has been candid that results are going to come with only effort and patience. I’m sure with practice, some of the recommendations in the book will lift the productivity, even if you try hard to disallow it!

 My favorite take away from the book includes: –

– Building a circle or small group for focused and engaging intellectual advancement

– Strengthening the core team

– The concept of energy and its management (though I think I have to read more of this) – I must agree I have started thinking!   

– STIMULI: God, I needed this most at this time in life! It was something I have done in the past and thought about unconsciously, but it’s so true: What goes in decides what will come out!

– The story about the music around page 200 and the South African speaker’s story at the end were my favorite anecdotes!

– And coming back to what I’m working hard to achieve everyday: FOCUS. I had a lot of fresh thoughts as I read this chapter too.

Before I reached the end, I felt a little drag (some pages could have been reduced), but the end was awesome! How would you like to be laid in the grave – as a completely full, unused, untapped valuable resource OR ‘fully empty’? The South African story inspiring one to ‘Die Empty’ was a wonderful way to end the book. Apart from that the number of anecdotes across the book make understanding the application of a concept / advice easy.

A simple book, which does not tell you to control time or diet or sleep, but asks you focus on the essentials, was helpful to me. I am sure it will be a useful read for anyone who thinks he or she is involved in even the shallowest of creative work.

Overall I loved the book.

I will recommend this when you walk to a book store the next time around!!

Happy Reading!