I love being around creative people, they are so stimulating and energising. I find them some of the most brilliant conversationalists, and they inspire me to try and follow in their footsteps. If only they could tell me how to do it.
I am lucky to know a number of truly creative individuals, from home handymen, jewellers, dressmakers, puppet makers, embroiderers and patch workers … and while I do not suggest this is true of all creative people, it does seem to be a universal problem with my friends … they have difficulty in explaining their creative ideas in a way that I can understand.
For instance, I have one friend who is a maker of impact jewellery, she comes up with some stunning ideas which look fabulous, and after admiring one piece I asked her how she made it. After a number of goes to try and explain the process to me, she gave up and simply showed me how to do it practically.
And that was fine. While I was there I saw and understood the method, and when I returned home I eagerly tried to recreate that stunning piece. Unfortunately, what seemed simple when I was watching the process was difficult when I came to try and recreate it. I couldn’t remember if that was a wrapped loop or a slip ring. Through trial and error I managed to produce an item that seemed close to the original, but wasn’t really as I recalled it and I was disappointed.
Creativity is a great gift. Those that have the ability to imagine that which has not yet been done are the ‘movers and shakers’ of our world. In fact Albert Einstein once said that he believed that “Imagination is more important than Education”, and he should know. But imagination, which is creation in the raw state, is merely dreaming unless we can put it into practice. When James Watt sat by the hearth and watched the lid of the kettle jumping and dancing from the steam, he may have imagined how he could have turned that to fact to use, but it was the creative use of that imaginative principle that allowed Stevenson to put the ‘Rocket’ on the rails.
But what difficulties would have been faced if James Watt couldn’t have explained how his ideas worked. If he had to patiently demonstrate each and every single operation, so that others could see how to do it. And what guarantee would there be that they would remember their demonstrations any better than I did?
Phillip Crosby, in his book “Running Things – the art of making things happen” highlights the difficulty that some creative people have:
“To create something is one thing; to communicate what has been created to others so that they can utilize [sic] it is quite another.” P152
Often our creative thoughts can involve complex ideas and processes, and others need to understand how these work before they can see the value in them. Now, while my jewellery problem was really simple to resolve (I merely took my piece round to my friend who showed me where I had gone wrong and it was easily fixed), but when we are talking about industrial creativity, or organisational creativity we need to be persuaded of the value before we choose to invest in that idea.
I have said before that giving precise instructions can be the hardest part of clear communication, and now add to that the ability to give simple explanations of complex ideas. The person who can combine the creativity from vivid imagination, and use their education in the communication process to explain them has the winning combination.
I have taken my highly creative, but slightly inarticulate friend in hand; and using my skill as a communication trainer I am trying to educate her in the communication process, so that she can explain her brilliant ideas for all to follow.
It isn’t easy and I am not sure of success, but I am a determined and dedicated trainer, and I have hopes for the future; because while Imagination may be more important than education, it surely goes better with communication.
Michele @ Trischel