World Creativity and Innovation Week has been happening since April of 2001, and is meant, according to co-founder Marci Segal, “to help people celebrate their capacity to use their creativity to make the world a better place, and to make their place in the world better, too.” There are events this week in Canada, the United States, Malaysia, Australia, Peru, Argentina…not to mention Italy.
Think about some aspect of your work or life that you deal with everyday. It might be how you drive your car, how you walk the dog, how you manage a staff meeting or how you habitually solve a problem. What if you had an unlimited amount of time in which to focus on just that one thing, in an attempt to improve it or use it in new ways. What might you achieve?
We know crisis can be a driver for forcing innovation, or at least accepting the need to change. But negative stress may impede people’s ability to see new ideas, let alone recognize their value and act on them. This suggests that if you want to optimize your receptivity to new questions and new ideas, it makes sense to put yourself in a good mood before brainstorming, and to collect around you the people and resources that make you feel happy.
It’s not that research proposals solicited in a more traditional method haven’t been innovative or produced good science. They have, and they still do, and not every research topic merits a Sandpit initiative. But because the Sandpit format involves a diverse group of people and forces them to catalyse and collide and collaborate, the output is often unique and innovative. Questions arise that wouldn’t otherwise have been posed, and partnerships form between people from very different scientific disciplines.
Hackers are problem solvers. They get juice from understanding a problem and sorting out a solution. Their motivation to meet challenges is internal. Occasional bragging rights aside, hackers do what they do because it’s extremely satisfying to solve puzzles and fix the up-until-now unfixable. The pleasure derived is both intellectual and practical.
Maybe creativity is just the adult word for play. Think about it: creativity involves testing, trying, imagining, pretending, expressing, making things up – everything that is part of a child’s world of play. When we use our creativity to solve a problem, we’re actually playing with the problem, playing with language and perspective, toying with possible solutions.