Our first ride in June 2021 saw us cycle off from the Beans café on Nottingham Embankment just shortly after sunrise (well, 8.30 to be precise), destination Leicester.
Before too long (just over 6km to be equally precise) we had shared thoughts about what creativity was all about and what role it had to play in innovating business.
Creativity: H, c or M?
We read in the literature of Historical or ‘H’ Creativity in which creativity is solely the domain of ‘great’ individuals (John Gardner), or alternatively the writings of Anna Craft who refers to the notion of ‘little ‘c’ creativity in which creativity is demonstrated in the personal sphere of possibility thinking and problem solving for example. Might we now talk about M creativity (as in Mmmm? Creativity? ) – or molecular creativity, the phenomenon by which creativity is present in all aspects of human endeavour in all moments of the day – and means whatever we want it to mean? Might magic be a better word?
Creative accounting, creative engineering, creative gun play. The word creative these days has ended up in so many odd phrases and at times that unconstructed old fashioned creatives who believed in the power of paint or performance despair at how promiscuous the word has become.
The Creative Process
Nevertheless, our discussion continued unabated and we discussed how difficult creativity can be to discuss, abated or unabated. It just is, and no amount of discussion, reading or writing will ever satisfactorilty describe once and for all and finally what the damn thing is all about.
We did agree though that creativity wasn’t just about having a glorious generative good time. It’s as much about convergent thinking as it is about divergent: it’s as much about ‘killing your darlings’ as it is raising them. I’m not sure who the first creative was who coined this little motto, but it points to the uncomfortable fact that creative act is as much about destruction as it was generation and that at the heart of the process, there is always a moment of supreme annihilation.
The important thing is to know where you are in the process. If you’re converging when you need to diverge, diverging when you need to converge, then this just leads to a very unhappy time for every one around you.
Just outside Hathern on the A6, we encountered the Old Curiosity Book Shop and this prompted some speculation on what role curiosity has in the creative process. I was reminded of my days in Hull, studying the intricacies of creative relationships (funded by Creative Partnerships back in the day) and developed an understanding of the role of curiosity in these processes through what turned into be the ‘golden thread’ running through the thesis. The nub of this proposal was that the emergence of a creative relationship went through several phases:
Phase 1: Non-alignment. The phase in which A and B are in no relationship with each other; are unaware of each others presence, needs, interests or desires.
Phase 2: Alignment. The phase in which A and B have been brought together by the presence of a third party – a catalyst (which may be a project, initiative or challenge) which acts to bind the responder and stimulus.
Phase 3 Curiosity. The phase in which either one of the two agents exhibit curiosity in the other; if both parties become mutually curious then the relationship response demonstrates a mutually reinforcing amplifying feedback loop, the response becomes more intense and the relationship shifts to the next phase.
Phase 4 Interest. The phase in which curiosity has been superseded by a more intense attraction in each others presence, needs, interests or desires. The two agents come closer together, whether this be either physically or emotionally. As with the phase before, if this interest is reciprocated then another mutually amplifying positive feedback loop is established and the relationship shifts to the next phase:
Phase 5 Intimacy Where the relationship is marked by strong emotional, intellectual or physical connections and feelings relating to love (storge, philia, agape or eros) is demonstrated. This may be the point at which the impact, or the results, of the relationship can be witnessed not only by the agents in the relationship but by the wider world in which those two agents are situated.
You could tell by this point that the unrelenting weather was turning us both a bit stir crazy so we thought it was about time to ride those final kilometers into central Leicester and complete the ride: which we did. Not especially triumphantly (we were too wet for that) but certainly relieved that our joint 106km could be notched up on the giant Boss Bike Ride Target Board.
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