Conflicting beliefs about creativity

by | Jan 2, 2024 | Innovation

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    Two contradictory beliefs about creativity have existed at different times throughout history: rationalism and Romanticism.

    Why does this matter if you want to innovate?

    Because the people you work with will likely have different underlying beliefs that get to the heart of creativity.

    RATIONALISM is the belief that creativity is generated by the conscious, deliberating, intelligent, rational mind.


    ROMANTICISM is the belief that creativity bubbles up from an irrational unconscious, and that rational deliberation interferes with the creative process.

    Today, the rationalist approach dominates. Since the 1950s, there has been a lot of research on creativity and if you read books or articles by those researchers, or who follow the research, you will be exposed to the rationalist belief. In this approach, you will hear about a creativity process and how important it is to identify a problem and done your homework to learn deeply about it, i.e. being conscious and deliberate.

    However, creativity can be confusing. If you walk into your local bookstore and find a “New Age” book on creativity, you will get exposed to the “Romanticism” approach, which will focus on the power of the unconscious, and listening to your inner muse. There is a heavier focus on the process than the output.

    Importantly, if you want to use creativity to solve the important problems your organisation faces, and innovate to achieve your vision, the rationalist approach is what you need.

    Need help with unleashing creativity to solve important problems you face, contact us.

    By the way, if you’re interested in learning more about the science of creativity, check out this fantastic textbook which is the main source of content for this article: The Science of Human Innovation: Explaining Creativity (2nd Ed.) by R. Keith Sawyer

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