The Creative Ethos

Florida, R. 2002. The Rise of the Creative Class – Chap. 2 : “The Creative Ethos”. Basic Books.

The fundamental spirit or character of a culture.

Creativity is not a panacea for the myriad social and economic ills that confront modern society.

Myths and misconceptions

Technology will liberate us

In the early 1900s, some claimed that the car or airplane would change our lives. In the 1950s, nuclear power was said to be a limitless change.

The tendency picked up steam again with the advent of computing and networks.

Technology will save us

Technology is the key factor in social change

One of the great flaws of techno-utopianism is to see only what is good and positive in us and assume it will not be used for deception, destruction or oppression.

The great wonder of our times is not what technological artifacts can do or how quickly they have evolved and grown, it is the tremendous outpouring of human creativity that produced such things.

The dinosaurs are doomed

The economy, like nature, is a dynamic system.

Power to the people

Daniel Pink promotes the free agent approach.

While the system looks lovely during good times, these risks and their consequences can be quite dire when the economy turns down.

Going Hollywood

A Hollywood-like system may well benefit large organizations – which can attract and shed labor at will – more than it does the majority of the people that work under it.

The model may not always be the most efficient way of doing business.

Places have replaced companies as the key organizing units in our economy, mirroring the Hollywood system.

We’re going Hollywood in a social sense. Creative class people tend to favor loose ties and shifting networks.

Dimensions of Creativity

Creativity is not the same as intelligence.

Creativity involves the ability to synthesize.

Creative work in fact is often downright subversive, since it disrupts existing patterns of thought and life.

Dean Keith Simonton said “Creativity is favored by an intellect that has been enriched with diverse experiences and perspectives.”

Red Smith said “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and open a vein.”

The process of destroying one’s gestalt in favor of a better one.

Schumpeter called it the “perennial gale of creative destruction”.

  • Homo economicus makes the most of what nature permits him to have
  • Homo creativus rebels against nature’s dictates

Creativity is a capacity inherent to varying degrees in virtually all people.

Creativity is largely driven by intrinsic rewards. Teresa Amabile observed, “Intrinsic motivation is conductive to creativity, but extrinsic motivation is detrimental”.

It is inescapably a social process.

Flourishes in an environment stable enough to allow continuity of effort, yet diverse and bold-minded enough to nourish creativity in all its subversive forms.

A good idea can be used over and over again and in fact grows in value the more it is used. It offers not diminishing returns, but increasing returns. It can be built upon.

Lawrence Lessing argued that our penchant for overprotecting and overlitigating intellectual property may well serve to constrain and limit the creative impulse.

Creative thinking as a four step process

  1. Preparation: consciously studying a task, and perhaps trying to attack it logically by standard means.
  2. Incubation: the “mystical” step, the conscious mind and subconscious mull over the problem in hard to define ways.
  3. Illumination: the “eureka” step, it’s seeing a new synthesis
  4. Verification or revision: includes all the work that comes after

The Creative Factory

Line workers are often key to making factories greener and more productive at the same time.

They need aptitudes such as problem solving and the ability to work in self-directed teams.

Their creativity should be multidimensional: it could be applied to various problem types.

Creativity versus Organization

Most people have a strong desire for organizations and environments that:

  • Let them be creative
  • Value their input
  • Challenge them
  • Have mechanisms for mobilizing resources around ideas
  • Are receptive to both small changes and the occasional big idea

Adam Smith warned that the specialization system – a creative achievement in its own right – has a downside: “The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations … has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention … He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion.”

Brown and Duguid refer to small groups working together as “communities of practice”. And insist on the need for process and structure to link these communities to one another, transfer knowledge, achieve scale and generate growth.

In The Organization Man, Whyte chronicles how big corporations of the time selected and favored the type of person who goes along to get along, rather than those who might go against the grain, resulting in “a generation of bureaucrats”.

Jacob’s “public characters” are the antitheses of these organization men.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Currently in toolbox? 1...