Since the formation of the human societies, innovation and creativity are the two things which are ruling almost all the factors of our life. As it can be seen, innovation and creativity are the basic reasons of progress and prosperity. At the same time, the number of people whose creativity or innovation blossoms out and becomes useful to the society is very less. In many cases, creative people come and pass away without their creativity getting noticed by others.
What it means to be creative? Are creativity and innovation different? What feeds creativity?
There are hundreds of questions which come up in everyone’s mind. Understanding creativity and innovation can help us a lot. Understanding the difference between creativity and innovation is the first step on the way.
Creativity and Innovation- Are they same?
Certainly not. To put it in a simpler way, all innovators are creative or they are aware of creativity but not all creative persons become innovators. A common misconception is that creative people think a lot. That is not the fact. Creativity is an outburst which takes place in the state of thoughtlessness. Nothing creative can happen when we are thinking. Creativity comes from a void. Many times, in order to find solution to a particular problem, we go on thinking madly. After some time, we get fed up and all the thoughts drop away and in these moments of thoughtlessness, we get the solution we wanted. Same happened with Einstein, Fermi and many more scientists. This also holds true for spiritual and social issues. Almost all the religions point towards a state of thoughtlessness. The only difference is, they have different names for it; Zen monks will call it no mind and Buddhists will call it Nirvana. What makes innovation different from creativity? Innovation is thoughtful application of a creative outburst to satisfy some demand. The demand can be anything. It can be a new product or it can be a new religion.
The most common mistake which is done while understanding creativity and innovation is focusing too much on thoughts. To be an innovator, first you need be creative. First the outburst of creativity takes place in thoughtlessness and then it is applied to the present situation to give an innovative solution. In history we can find out many people who were innovators but not creative. Such people converted the creativity of other people into innovations.
Who is an Innovator?
On all this background, it is a valid question- who is an innovator? How to be innovative? Unlike a creative person, an innovator has to think a lot. He constantly has to be submerged in thoughts. An innovator either has to be creative or he has to be aware of creative activities of other people. As Peter Drucker says, a contemporary scientist had invented a better bulb than Edison but he could not identify the right market for and partners for his creative outburst. Edison, on other hand was well aware of power of the invention and hence was well prepared with partners, financial supporters etc. Edison was also aware of this scientist’s invention. It is said that Edison bought the patent rights for this better bulb and successfully sold it.
In this case, both the scientists were creative. Both of them had developed separate designs. But, Edison could become an innovator because he thought over his invention and converted it strategically into a product.
Are all of us Creative?
Another misconception about creativity is the opinion that only few people are creative and remaining are ordinary people. The fact is, every person is gifted with creativity in different ways. The difficult task is to find out the domain of your creativity. Finding out one’s domain of creativity is a task of patience. For finding out this domain, silence is required. For this, the person has to understand his nature. Unfortunately, due to social conditioning, finding the true nature is almost an impossible task. Once we are silent, we can easily find out our way of being creative. On the other hand, innovation is a habit. It is a thoughtful effort. It is a discipline.
Creativity and Meditation
Those who are introvert, they have to be creative to be happy. Meditation feeds creativity. On the other hand, extrovert people tend to be innovative. All the mystics are creative. This is the reason behind the liveliness of Kabir’s poems or Khusrau’s quals. Meditation makes us creative because it takes us away from the thoughts. One thing is for sure- for both creativity and innovation, tremendous efforts and focus is required.