The catalyst of creativity

The catalyst of creativity

The catalyst of creativity

Social scientist Jacob Getzels said: “It is, in fact, the discovery and creation of problems rather than any superior knowledge, technical skill or craftsmanship that often sets the creative person apart from others in his field.”

Getzels truly hits the nail on the head by highlighting what is the core quality of a creative person: not skill, not knowledge but the ability to identify problems. All innovation, all creativity resides within that.

Solutions, breakthroughs are very often, if not always, a result of seeing a need, a problem. In medical terms, a condition manifests with specific symptoms, and the danger exists for a doctor to just treat the symptoms and never the root of the condition.

The same with creativity, only when a core issue is discovered, can it be addressed with the needed solution. However, because we are lazy, because we are programmed to function in a specific way, because we don’t like taking too much time, we often settle for half-baked hypotheses or ideations that deals with “symptoms”, that eventually and predictably only yield minimal success.

A product designer finds a problem and creates an object to make life easier; an entrepreneur sees a lack in the market; a businessman identifies a need and provides a service. This is as true in the field of innovations, like businesses or products design, as it is in artistic fields.

You may say, but what kind of problem is an artist trying to solve?
An artist finds a problem by recognising (consciously or not) an unexpressed emotion or a fundamental need of humans, like the need to behold beauty, the need to face the reality of our society, or the need for inspiration.

When an artist sees an unexpressed personal yet universal emotion or inner need and manages to express it/ satisfy it, suddenly his art resonates with people.

We have divided the design process into three and are addressing the second stage, “Inquire”. The first stage was where we got inspired, we collected many ideas. The second is the “hard-to-describe” dance between hypothesis ideation and the core problem. A puzzle that can only be solved when we find that thing, that issue, which often hides covered by other issues symptomatic of it, but not quite it.

The core problem is the catalyst that makes the whole equation work. To find it we need to ask questions that depart from our willingness to design things, processes, art forms, for our audience, the people we are trying to cater for.


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