Creativity Is a Journey, Not a Destination

A Reading List to Get the Creative Juices Flowing

Creativity Is a Journey, Not a Destination

Creativity is the Holy Grail for businesses. Coming up with that fresh, new idea is make or break for any organization. Yet creativity is often surrounded with mystery – where does it come from? How can I be more creative? Is it possible to turn creativity on and off?

Strap Into Your Mind-Set

To even get to creative thinking, authors of The Creative Mindset Staney and Jeff DeGraff emphasize mind-set first. Most people believe creativity is rare; either they are born with it or they aren’t. In other words, most people have a “fixed mind-set” view about creativity. But the truth is, creative innovation is the result of open-mindedness. It occurs every day to ordinary people making incremental progress solving a problem. Probably more important than creative talent is the grit necessary to doggedly work on challenges until you reach a breakthrough.

The Creative Mind-set is a state of mind – a way of thinking, a way of seeing opportunities to sprinkle creativity into ordinary practices. 

Staney and Jeff DeGraff

The DeGraffs offer many ideas about how to bust out of the routine thinking you’ve been doing without success. Start with developing these solid “CREATE” skills: 

  • “Clarify” your problem or challenge. 
  • “Replicate” solutions into new contexts. 
  • “Elaborate” by linking things that seem unrelated. 
  • “Associate,” that is, find analogies for your problem and their solutions. 
  • “Translate” your vision for other people. 
  • “Evaluate” which is the best idea. 
Image of: The Creative Mindset
Book Summary

The Creative Mindset

Unlocking individual creativity supercharges innovation.

Staney DeGraff and Jeff DeGraff Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Read Summary

Author Michael A. Roberto also emphasizes mind-set in Unlocking Creativity. Frequently people are stuck in their “linear,” “benchmarking” or other limiting mind-sets. He offers strategies to overcome them.  

Image of: Unlocking Creativity
Book Summary

Unlocking Creativity

Business leaders can overcome six mind-sets that block creativity and innovation in their organization.

Michael A. Roberto Wiley
Read Summary

Roberto and most who write about creativity emphasize it’s a trial-and-error business. Innovators learn fastest by taking their best shot and often failing. Roberto emphasizes an environment of psychological safety so people feel the freedom to truly innovate.

This May Be Messy

Business speaker Vince Ebert points out in his article “In a Two-Person Tent with Richard Branson (and Hannibal Lecter)” that creativity can’t be rushed. And it’s not the easy flash of inspiration it’s so often depicted to be. As any artist will tell you, that 99% perspiration for the 1% resulting inspiration is real.

Genuine creativity is provocative, radical, dangerous. None of which is prevalent. On the contrary, creative processes often cause resistance, doubt, discomfort and a sense of insecurity in the participants.

Vince Ebert

Ebert doesn’t sugarcoat it: Consistent creativity is a slog. You’ll probably have to generate a lot of bad ideas before you find the one that feels electric. Brainstorming is a tried-and-true way to get started.

The Old “Think Different”

Author Mark Manson thinks the creative process is actually kind of boring. In his article “5 Boring Ways to Become More Creative,” he says creatives should just go with it. “Divergent thinking” is the secret behind most surprising ideas. It’s where the creator takes an existing idea or project and blends it with different elements to create something new. The producers of the TV show Breaking Bad thought a show about a drug kingpin was tired, until they made him a middle-aged white science teacher. Look for ways you can add value to underappreciated ideas. 

Image of: 5 Boring Ways to Become More Creative
Article Summary

5 Boring Ways to Become More Creative

Learn down-to-earth ways to make creativity your own – no divine inspiration required.

Mark Manson Mark Manson
Read Summary

Think like an alien, say authors Cyril Bouquet, Jean-Louis Barsoux and Michael Wade in Alien Thinking. They offer strategies to find different perspectives on tough problems.

All of us can develop new ideas and insights if we have strategies to challenge default assumptions, and if we notice little curiosities that other people miss.

Cyril Bouquet, Jean-Louis Barsoux and Michael Wade

They say learning the creativity habit comes down to practicing five habits of thought:

  • “Attention” – Closely study your problem.
  • “Levitation” – Take time to reflect from a distance.
  • “Imagine” – Envision solutions.
  • “Experiment” – Test your theories and look for practical applications.
  • “Navigate” – Troubleshoot obstacles to implementation.
Image of: Alien Thinking
Book Summary

Alien Thinking

There are ALIENs in your midst – learn how they think to become an innovative problem solver.

Cyril Bouquet, Jean-Louis Barsoux and Michael Wade Public Affairs
Read Summary
“Experiment” – Test your theories and look for practical applications.

Make Creativity a Team Sport

Businesses often and understandably want the fruits of creativity without working to develop the habits necessary to cultivate it within their processes. Some companies, like Netflix, have figured out how to build a culture to support innovation.

Image of: Culture Shock
Podcast Summary

Culture Shock

Corporate culture defines a company’s success.

Reid Hoffman and Reed Hastings Masters of Scale – DO NOT SELECT
Read Summary

In The Creativity Leap, business consultant Natalie Nixon focuses on the fusion between data analysis and a creative work culture. Cultivate curiosity and put together diverse teams of people who spark each other’s creativity.

Image of: The Creativity Leap
Book Summary

The Creativity Leap

Find the intersection of analytics and creativity to increase creative intelligence in your workplace.

Natalie Nixon Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Read Summary

Read more about how to incorporate creativity into your work:

Related Summaries in getAbstract’s Library
Image of: Creative Calling
Book Summary

Creative Calling

Unleash your creativity to channel a new source of personal power.

Chase Jarvis HarperBusiness Read Summary
Image of: Making Work that Matters
Video Summary

Making Work that Matters

Learn how a creative practice can transform your work and potentially launch your creative career.

Seth Godin and Adam Grant RSA Read Summary
Image of: Herding Tigers
Book Summary

Herding Tigers

Leading creative people requires a clear strategy and strong leadership skills.

Todd Henry Portfolio Read Summary
Image of: Imagination Is a Creative Superpower
Video Summary

Imagination Is a Creative Superpower

Embrace the power of imagination and discover new possibilities for your life, work and relationships.

Ashley C. Ford 99U Read Summary
Image of: The Creative Thinking Handbook
Book Summary

The Creative Thinking Handbook

Creativity is the power skill in today’s evolving business world.

Chris Griffiths Kogan Page Publishers Read Summary
Image of: How to Be an Artist
Video Summary

How to Be an Artist

A celebrated, outspoken art critic explains why anyone can have a life in art, and how to start.

Jerry Saltz Talks at Google Read Summary
Image of: Overcoming the Innovation Readiness Gap
Article Summary

Overcoming the Innovation Readiness Gap

Learn why innovation often fails to yield business value – and how to bridge the gap.

Justin Manly (et al.) The Boston Consulting Group Read Summary
Image of: Think Again with Adam Grant
Video Summary

Think Again with Adam Grant

Learn how rethinking can make you a better thinker, entrepreneur, team member – and human being.

Scott Barry Kaufman and Adam Grant Scott Barry Kaufman Read Summary
Image of: Zig-Zag and the Art of Strategic Creativity
Article Summary

Zig-Zag and the Art of Strategic Creativity

Rethinking your business can jolt it into a fresh cycle of innovation and growth.

Luc de Brabandere, Alan Iny, Nicolas Kachaner and Sarah Sonnenfeld The Boston Consulting Group Read Summary
Image of: It’s Not All Lightbulbs
Article Summary

It’s Not All Lightbulbs

Innovation has made the world what it is today – but is innovation really what people think it is?

W. Patrick McCray Aeon Read Summary
Image of: Creativity
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Image of: Group Creativity
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