Creativity - a big misunderstanding?

Is creativity a subject only for artists?

And what about Innovation?

During an initially rather playful Google search, I noticed that the term »innovation« is searched for many times more often than »creativity.«

When I then deepened my research in conversations, with some other people it came out that »creativity« is associated with art and culture, that »innovation« is more related to practical, professional life and the economy. 

More and more it became clear that I was on the track of a big misunderstanding. And this misunderstanding even may be the reason why there is a lack of innovations.

It is necessary to resolve this misunderstanding.

If we want just an innovation and don’t take care about creativity it is like we want to have the meal without cooking.

Every innovation is something new, a change of reality. The result of an idea of one ore more persons. Over the centuries there have been different concepts how these sudden insights happen. Most of them had mythical or spiritual explanation patterns. It seemed to be a matter of genius, of a miracle, a present of the Gods or God, The attention was focused on this moment on insight, on illumination on the »divine spark«.

Therefore a mental model of mystery is connected with innovation.

During the first half of the 20th century Graham Wallas (1926) and Joy Paul Guilford (1950) put this model in question and opened the door to more scientific models.

»In The Art of Thought (1926), Wallas drew on the work of Hermann von Helmholtz and Henri Poincaré to propose one of the first complete models of the creative process – as consisting of the four-stage process of preparation (or saturation), incubation, illumination, and verification)« (source: Wikipedia).

Wallas described idea finding and problem solving as a process. There are two phases of thought processes and activities before the illumination can happen. And you need three phases until »you get the meal on the table.«

In his famous 1950 lecture to the American Psychological Association (APA), the psychologist J.P. Guilford expressly introduced the term »creativity« into the scientific discussion. Since then the subject of the origin of ideas expanded from the artistic, linguistic context into the scientific discussion of psychology. 

Wallas and Guilford thus provided the initial spark that the term became more and more popular and was carried into all areas of life - finally to the ironically meant »creative bookkeeping«. Guilford worked on expanding the very narrow concept of intelligence associated with the measurement of the »Intelligence Quotient (IQ)« and stated his quest on examining creativity in the overall context of the multidimensionality of every human being.

However, historically, the word »creativity« is therefore relatively young (it first appears in 1875 before Guilford's scientific examination – source: Merriam Webster).

It is now high time to leave the mystical mental models and understand creativity as the prerequisite for every process of original problem-solving, idea-finding, design, decision-making in complex situations.

Creativity is, therefore, not only a prerequisite in the artistic creation process to create something new, creativity is also in demand and necessary in all areas of life.


are then the practical results of creative processes.

Without creativity, there is no innovation. If you want to realize innovations, you first have to mobilize your creativity and imagination.

Creativity already exists as potential in everyone. It is part of the essential human equipment but needs to be developed and trained. Like running or swimming it is first a potential and after some training it becomes a skill.

It is time to say goodbye to the myth of the genius. On the other hand, it corresponds to everyday observations that people mobilize and live out their potential in very different ways during their life span.

Statistical studies are also somewhat disturbing, according to which creativity should already reach its maximum at an early age (around the age of 11) and then continuously diminish. In scientists, the creative peak was observed at the age of 30.

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However, as is the case with statistics, they record mathematical condensations and neglect the exceptions. There is creativity beyond 30 as Brendan Gill has shown in her book »The Late Bloomers« based on 72 biographies also beyond 60 and far beyond.

Allow your imagination to believe in your own personal creativity and its potential. On the other hand, don't try to innovate without giving creativity the time and scope it needs. Actually hyped creativity techniques like »Design Thinking« with »time box« iterations and stopwatch control mechanism only make sense if they also give additional enough time for play and leisure to exactly the opposite of acceleration.


- is regarded as the vital ability to cope with the future. The underutilized power of ideas is the cause of most pressing problems, whether in companies and organizations or in private. Simple creativity techniques do not help much. Creativity is not a single, methodical act. Creating something new in thought is a question of consciousness, inner attitude and personal dealings with fantasy, the irrational, and the illogical. 

It is necessary to perceive differently than usual, to overcome fear and to develop enthusiasm. Creativity has to do with the willingness to set oneself goals and to pursue them with commitment. But just as important is the ability to play, and in the end, the creative power in a person is very often (or always?) a question of the heart, of love, of devotion.