4.1.3 The person who creates: creative individual, creative group

The base and root of our creativity lies in the uniqueness of our personalities. Relying on our thoughts, ideas and feelings can guide us to develop new associations and original connections.

Individual creativity

We are all unique and different in a way, but not all of us can get an advantage of it. We should be able to regard our potentials as resources that we can build on – especially in the areas we are effective. Exploiting these unique potentials of the personality we can acquire a stable self-esteem. Naturally, the social environment also plays an important role in forming a genuine self-confidence by supporting, appreciating or obviating the initiatives of an individual. Due to the support, parallel to forming a stable self-esteem, we will be able to trust and rely generally on our own thoughts and feelings1. Thus, we will not only master the already existing knowledge and practises, but sometimes exceed them as well by developing new associations and novel ideas. (Figure 3)

Figure 3: The base and root of creativity


Personality aspects needed for creative individuals

As we can see, we need certain skills to be creative. These skills are not mysterious at all: as we saw it earlier, we will need to have a stable positive self-esteem (genuine self-confidence) to rely on our own feelings and thoughts, inner/intrinsic motivation and curiosity towards a subject which are as well feelings to rely on, and as a result of engaging in an activity we are motivated and interested about, we are likely to experience flow and self-efficacy while doing an activity related to it. In a state of flow, motivation and self-confidence creative sparks fly (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Personal factors needed for creativity

If we are self-confident in trusting our own feelings and thoughts, we will do our activities because of a natural curiosity and motivation that comes from within2. We can only be creative if we are interested in what we do apart from any type of reward. What is more, if we deal with a subject primarily for the reward or for the profit without the meaningful personal interest, it is not likely that we can develop any kind of innovative solution. Our curiosity and interest for a topic is usually a good sign that we have a potential to consider.

According to Csíkszentmihályi, we experience flow3 in completely focused motivation, when we feel full involvement and energized while performing a task. They found that those people who are creative, love what they do and how they do it. Alone by discovering new things our pleasure centre is stimulated in the brain. In these types of activities we feel self-efficacy when we are able to achieve our goal, or create something useful. If we experience self-efficacy often, our self-esteem will be stable and positive as well; which is needed to express unique and novel ideas. This way the cycle is complete which is needed for creativity.

Group creativity

Creative individuals are important for creative groups, but it is far not true that they are all-important. Creativity is a process that can be learned by groups perhaps more easily than by the individuals. We suggest that innovation does not only come from (a group of) individuals who would define themselves as creative. A creative group is not the same as a group of “creatives”. However, the contributions will be essential for a creative outcome.

Groups have another potential advantage over individuals as in groups multiple resources of deep expertise can be gathered. This makes it especially important to take care of the group composition. The more diverse it is, the more it triggers divergent thinking.4

Please stop and think:
You are about to plan the introduction of a new product or service in your company. You initiate thinking and gathering ideas in a group by brainstorming5. Who would you recommend to invite for the brainstorming session? How many different perspectives and related backgrounds can you collect? Who are the stake holders? From where would you invite experts and outsiders to the meeting?

In almost all groups, the managers are responsible for shaping the group’s creative process, design the group composition, enhance the physical and psycho-social environment, provide the tools and techniques for moving forward, and bring creative charge. Thus managers “have to redesign the ship while they sail – to be innovative while they keep the normal enterprise operations running, too”.6

1 Várnagy (2009): Beyond the level of self esteem. Investigating stability as an independent dimension in alternative and traditional secondary schools.
2 Waschull, S. B. Kernis, M. H. (1996). Level and stability of self-esteem as predictors of children's intrinsic motivation and reasons for anger
3 Flow (psychology) from wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_%28psychology%29
4 Leonard D.; Swap W. (1999): When sparks Fly. Igniting Creativity in groups
5 For further information about Brainstorming you can go to chapter 4.2 of this guide.
6 Leonard D.; Swap W. (1999): When sparks Fly. Igniting Creativity in groups