Creativity by Scott Berkun
The word “build” originally comes from using atoms to construct things. In 1884, Maurice Koechlin and Emile Nouguier were innovators who were looking to build the world’s largest structure out of rarely used materials – steel & iron – for their employer Mr Eiffel.
The grander your idea, the greater the risk that whoever you are pitching to needs to take on. That’s why smart people always relate their idea, no matter how big, back to something that already exists.
Maurice and Emile did this on their original designs for the tower, by including existing buildings to compare it to. After an initial rejection by Eiffel, the two of them employed a designer to add some majesty to the project and it was signed off.
1. All ideas are made of other ideas
As such, you should keep looking at those ideas that have already been made into reality, and build on top of them. It isn’t coincidence that ’email’ has ‘mail’ in it, and that there’s an envelope icon when a new message arrives.
Eiffel certainly didn’t invent the arch; it’s a shape that’s been used for hundreds of years. But he did completely re-imagine it through the use of wrought iron, which allowed it to be transparent. This represented a completely new end result, building on ideas that already existed.
At the same time, everything that you want to make is intended to solve a problem. These problems are not new, either – even if the end product might be. Look into how your customer’s problems have been solved in the past to find new ideas for solving them now.
2. Great ideas often look weird (to begin with)
Even Eiffel faced tremendous backlash during the build of the tower. 300 artists, noblemen and architects actually got together and wrote a letter to try and get him to stop. It’s hardly surprising, given a beautiful stone and brick city with wide promenades, and how the tower must have looked during its construction.
Even for him, and for every great piece of work in history, it began as an experiment that looked weird to most people.
In real life, you have to make sure that you investigate the ‘weird’ ideas every now and again, to make sure you’re not missing out on the paradigm shift in your midst.
3. Our minds are naturally creative
Create is a verb – it’s something that you do. It’s not a state of mind or something that just happens. However, you can improve your own creativity by improving your own mental state and self awareness, working towards an environment that is conducive to creativity.
We are the smartest species in the world – we can create, experiment and innovate like nothing else. Our creativity is sparked by problems that need to be solved. This happens throughout the whole of our life, but is not seen as something everyone can do at work. This is down to the environment which is set in your team, and it’s down to leaders to create the safe space where creativity can happen.
When anyone is suitably motivated by a tough problem, creativity is unavoidable.