The Art Of Creativity

November 9, 2013

Flash Bulbs

In early October, I had the opportunity to see Jason Theodor present “The Art Of Creativity” at Blissdom Canada. The presentation was based on his upcoming book Create More Better Different and took a look at the components of creativity and how we can boost our personal creative style.

Creativity is the act of connecting things in unexpected ways. – Jason Theodor

People mistakenly believe that creativity equals originality. That particular statement resonated with me, since in a creative industry I often hear that creativity only counts if it is original. In Jason’s point of view, creativity grows from doing stuff; practicing one’s form of expression. He had my rapt attention from that point on.

Jason identified three elements of creativity:

  • Action – practice creativity to make it routine
  • Connection – go deep and go wide to connect different ideas
  • Deviation – use free play and experimentation with alternate points of view to take unexpected path

It’s not about how creative you are, but about how you’re creative. Jason then described the eight creative types, which are a combination of the three elements:

  • Apprentice (low for all three elements)
    • Needs practice, association, experimentation
    • Needs a patient mentor
  • Enthusiast (high action)
    • Needs association and experimentation
    • Very good at chosen craft; never seems to have trouble starting or finishing project
  • Philosopher (high connection)
    • Needs practice and experimentation
    • Lives to learn & understand; always has a story
  • Daredevil (high deviation)
    • Needs practice, association, and grounded focus
    • Confident, passionate, but lacking in subtlety; scattered and disconnected
  • Dreamer (high connection and deviation)
    • Needs practice and to build momentum
    • Filled with lofty ambition; trouble with inertia and walking the walk
  • Rebel (high action and deviation)
    • Needs association
    • The name pretty much describes it
  • Producer (high action and connection)
    • Needs experimentation
    • Gets things done right and unstoppable, but has difficulty with the unknown & self-expression
  • Master (high for all three elements)
    • Has an established creative routine and deep understanding of craft; self-confident of expression
    • Has a well-balanced creative skill-set

To find out which creative type you are, take the test on Jason’s website: I took the test and it turns out that I’m a Daredevil. That’s more true for my personal projects. I’m certainly not that way at work. There I am definitely a Producer.

He then ran through his Creative Toolkit to work on the elements that are low. Two exercises that I would like to try at work help build the deviation element:

Focus Five

When tackling a new creative problem, focus on finding the answers to the following five questions:

  • Who is the audience?
  • What is the key message?
  • What’s the goal statement (where do you want this to get out)?
  • What’s the deadline?
  • Why do I care?

The last question really is the key and will lead you to some alternate points of view. I think this will be particularly useful in my industry (video game development), since caring what happens next in the game is core to making the experience fun.

Through the looking-glass

Rather than looking for solutions, try doing the opposite:

  • How can I ensure failure?
  • What would make this a disaster?

Write down every idea; don’t judge. Now look at your list of ensured failure and then think of solutions.

I really enjoyed Jason’s presentation. Since I work in a creative industry, it really helps to understand the creative types around me and how to bring out their best. The exercises in the Creative Toolkit will also help boost our creative processes individually and as a team. I’m looking forward to reading the full book when it comes out.

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About Liza Wood

After a dozen years leading video game development projects in a variety of roles, I decided to pursue a Master of Data Science at the University of British Columbia. Studying data science doesn’t mean I’m moving away from leading people. Growing data science teams need collaborative, pragmatic, Agile leadership to connect data to all areas of the business. I would like to share that point of view, along with my experiences, on this blog.

View all posts by Liza Wood

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