Monday, November 17, 2003

Creativity & Execution

Creativity & Execution

Edward De Bono believes that thinking skills and creativity can be taught. He has written a lot of books on this subject and most of them make quite engrossing reading. In Serious Creativity he provides a textbook of tools and techniques that one can apply to become creative.

De Bono's books are sometimes very repetitive. If you have read one, you have read twenty percent of his other books. Perhaps his best book is his first: The Mechanism of Mind, in which he expounds his theory on why a "lateral" way of provocative thinking is important for creativity.

Many big multinationals put their employees through De Bono's Six Thinking Hats and Lateral Thinking courses. Corporations claim that they value thinking and creativity; but a lot of times they just want their executives to execute--to carry out the thinking that has already been done by people at the top, ruthlessly and efficiently. Execution, execution, execution--it is chanted almost like a mantra. Hence the term "creative executive" is sometimes an oxymoron.

But that's also an unfair statement to make as many executives are actually quite innovative in the way they approach their assigned tasks. Creativity is not limited to creating works of art that stir the passion and imagination of the masses. Creativity can be ordinary, like finding a better way to file your papers, determining the agenda of a meeting for maximum effectiveness or choosing the proper phrases in a sales pitch to rouse the customer's interest. To a creative person, any ordinary task can be infused with great doses of creativity.

There are also a lot of people who claim to be creative but never seem to be able to pursue a single task to its completion. To create means to bring something from the realm of the imagination into reality. Going half-way is not good enough.

Many so called "artistic people" like to cling to the image of being creative almost like a lifestyle; but under the veneer of bohemianism are just plain lazy individuals lacking in self-discipline and willpower. The tenacity to persevere and to finish a job is also essential for a creative person to be successful. An artist needs to execute his ideas; in other words, he has to be an "executive".

Forgive me for my lack of creativity here, but to sum everything up, I can't resist borrowing and paraphrasing Einstein's famous quote (originally comparing science with religion): "Creativity without execution is lame. Execution without creativity is blind"

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