David Burkus is an author, keynote speaker and associate professor of leadership and innovation at Oral Roberts University.
I recently listened to the audio version of his book “The Myths of Creativity”. Here are some of my key take aways.
We are all capable of creativity. This is not ability limited to a fortunate few. Having the confidence that creativity is within one’s grasp and applying oneself to the problem will yield a solution.
This gets to the heart of Altshuller’s key findings:
- problems and solutions are repeated across industries and sciences
- patterns of technical evolution are also repeated across industries and sciences
- the innovations used scientific effects outside the field in which they were developed
New ideas are almost always the application of tools and techniques used elsewhere to a new problem.
Experts are often focused on incremental improvements whereas a naive eye can sometimes see completely new ways to accomplish a key improvement.
Take for example the roller bag, which I’ve discussed earlier. A suitcase manufacturer’s team of experts might fixate on the constraints of weight, durability and cost. An outsider asks, why do I have to lift it at all?
Lone creator myth
While it is true that some ideas are arrived at by someone in isolation, creativity is often a team effort. Interestingly Burkus also “debunks” the use of brainstorming, or “just throwing ideas around”.
I square the circle thusly: that innovation is a team sport, but that means somebody needs to play the “coach”, directing the team’s efforts to a productive, problem-solving conclusion.