How Do You Define Creativity?




What does creativity mean  to you? Do you immediately think of purely artistic ability? Let’s go to the dictionary to see what it says about the subject.


The definition above mentions artistic work, but it doesn’t exclude non-artistic work.

I typically use Robert Franken’s definition of creativity, which you can see in the image at the top of this post. Recently, I discovered the Iowa State Center for Excellence. What they say about creativityreally resonated with me,

No one idea of creativity fits all fields of endeavor. Creativity calls on cognitive and non-cognitive skills, curiosity, intuition, and doggedness. Creative solutions can be created or discovered, in a flash or over a period of decades.

At one time creativity was thought of as a culture-changing product of a genius like Thomas Edison, Marie Curie, or Steve Jobs. Over the past several years, however, emphasis on such phenomena, sometimes called “Big-C” creativity, has given way to an interest in what is called “little-c” or everyday creativity, a process in which many can and do participate.

Creativity does not arise in a vacuum; it requires a certain degree of both general knowledge and field-specific knowledge. This is clearly true if we think of creativity as a form of innovation – we cannot know what is novel without a sense of what is already known in any area.

Researchers who have attempted to measure creativity or creative aptitude use similar terms to describe it, including:

  • Fluency (number of ideas generated)
  • Originality and imagination (unusual, unique, novel ideas)
  • Elaboration (ability to explain ideas in detail)
  • Flexibility, curiosity, resistance to closure (ability to generate multiple solutions)
  • Complexity (detail and implications of ideas; recognition of patterns, similarities and differences)
  • Risk taking (willingness to be wrong and to admit it)

Barriers to creativity can be cultural (Am I supposed to stick my neck out?), emotional (Perhaps I can’t do this), or related to language and field (We don’t use metaphors here, we use data). Heuristics, or techniques for thinking, can offer ways around these barriers.

This resonated with me probably because it supports the theory that I outline in my book, Born Creative, that everyone has this innate ability. I believe the we all, including you, are born with this aptitude for “little c, or everyday creativity.”

What do you think?


  1. Short yet interesting article.

    Creativity is beyond important in one’s life. The article gave us additional idea about the value of creativity and how we can use it in our daily lives.

    This enables us to generate better solution, decision or idea in every scenario. For marketers and leaders, creativity begins with an invitation and the problems we face have given marketers an invitation to lead like never before.
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  2. Hi Harry,

    I’d have to agree that everyone has creativity as an innate ability and that it depends on one’s environment and one’s self to deliberately develop it, some if not most of us are unaware that we have this ability because the “Big-C” creativity has been given more emphasis than the “little c, or everyday creativity” just like what the Iowa State Center for Excellence said.

    Thank you very much for sharing your post, looking forward to more posts like this from you, keep up the good work!