Privately, someone mocked me for suggesting that b-schools can teach cultural literacy or the creativity needed to use this literacy in the branding and marketing world. (He was responding to my post of a couple of days ago.)
He must be wrong about cultural literacy. This is like any body of knowledge, especially when we strip away the "barriers to entry" created by those who confuse literacy and cool.
But, who knows, he could be right about the creativity question. Maybe this can’t be taught. As a small contribution, to this debate, I suggest that we map some of the characterisitics of creativity. This might help us decide which of the key characteristics are teachable and which qualify as idiosyncratic and incapable of curricular development.
Let’s look at the moment of revelation, the moment when we know we have a new idea. In the collective case, we can feel the group begin to vibrate. This was evident yesterday at the Sterling Rice sessions. As the group begin to work through the possibilities and narrow in on one particular idea, people tend to become more animated, they sit forward, their hands fly in the air, eyes widen, and so on. There is a thrill of the chase in the air. (Of course, there is always someone who insists on premature closure. I think they think they are being decisive, but by "leaping to a conclusion" they force the issue and kill the idea.)
We the group know we have a new idea before we actually know what it is. In the post in question, I called this the Svaha moment, after the Swahili term for the moment between thunder and lightening.
What about the moment when we are generating ideas on our own? In my experience, there is a moment of commotion when ideas begin to assemble and interact. Sometimes this feels like a collision, sometimes a clamor.
Then there is the moment of formation. I know I have a new idea but not yet what it is. This takes a Svaha transition. Almost always this is a sense of the new idea moving upwards. It only takes a couple of seconds and eventually the new ideas breaks what can only be called the surface of consciousness. Now I have it form and substance.
So there is clamor, then formation, then movement, then surfacing.
I know these are not symptoms of creativity for everyone. I have a friend who says she gets goose bumps in the Svaha moment. And I guess there must be some people for whom ideas don’t emerge, or arrive, or manifest themselves. They just are. One moment you don’t have them. Then you do. No transition.
It is, I think, remotely possible that there are people who have a steady stream of ideas rushing like an underground water way just beneath the surface of consciounsess. All they need is a clearer sense of the symptoms to tap the stream. Anyhow, that’s what I’m hoping.
Please, could I hear from people on the sensations of creativity. What, precisely, is your moment of revelation?