I read a very thought-provoking article yesterday which has me considering creativity today. I’m very interested in creativity purely for creativity’s sake. The article was actually about chaos and innovation, but I’m going to call them the same thing. To me innovation is creativity that’s going somewhere ;). Clearly, I talk a fair amount of creativity and some fairly significant limitations Jordan has in this area. I rather feel that it is up to me to ensure the Beans are able to think and act creatively.
So, back to the article, the primary premise is that for creativity to thrive you need structure not chaos. So, I hear you thinking what I have thought in the past… but creativity is about breaking the rules and doing things differently. Indeed it is. Having said that, we’re human. I’m going back to my childhood here for a few minutes, so bear with me. As a kid, I lived in a mess. This was a mess of my own creation patterned after the mess I experienced throughout my growing-up house. MimiBean is many wonderful things, but neat and tidy isn’t one of them.
As a tween and teen, I lived in a room where things were knee-deep on the floor of my room. If I needed to find something I’d been working on, it typically took at least 30 minutes. If I needed supplies for a project, it’d be hours of searching. During this time period, I found it very difficult to be particularly creative. I never really attributed this to my lack of neatness. But time does funny things. I now realize, it is nearly impossible to create (or innovate) in chaos.
This was brought home to me in dealing with the Beans. As I mentioned, MemeBean often lacks structure. It’s her personality. She has the most wonderful ideas and is able to articulate them beautifully, but providing the structured approach to help them get done isn’t always possible for her. When the Beans were small, she found it a bit restrictive that we run a rather tight ship. Pick up-clean up is done immediately after playing with toys. Art supplies are kept all together in some semblance of neatness (harder to do now that the Beans pull them down themselves). MemeBean felt like this would stifle their creativity. I thought the best way to explore this was to experiment. One day, we’d try her approach and pull everything out and leave it a mess. The next, we’d take out the items we needed, provide a little guidance and structure and see what happened.
In the end, we found that on the structured day the Beans created more and had more fun. The structure and limits weren’t confining or restricting. Rather they freed the Beans to focus on creating rather than finding the supplies and seeking out inspiration and such. If you think of the quintessential artist’s pose with palette and brush in hand… it’s another great example. The artist doesn’t wait for inspiration to strike and then go mix paints. Rather her gives himself the structure of having supplies at the ready so that when inspiration strikes, he can move quickly.
I have to agree with Mr. Diab’s concern that somehow innovation has come to equate with chaos and breaking of templates. Rather, innovation often comes within structure and boundaries. Thinking of the musical world, if you want to break the rules and be creative, you first must understand the rules. I came across another interesting article entitled Creativity Must Have Structure. In it, the author points out that our best inventions unleashed our ability to create (musical notes, alphabet, etc.). So, all in all in our work-life and our home life, we need to build the time, the processes, and the structures that let us be creative.