Thursday, March 27, 2008

Creative Force in Normal People

My children would insist that I have no credibility in addressing normal people. Nevertheless, I insist that creativity is a potent force that cannot be relegated to the so-called artsy-fartsy set. Actually there is significant research supporting the claim that it is creativity (not oil deposits) that drives economic growth. Let it drive growth in your own personal economy!

Richard Florida, author of Rise of the Creative Class, documents the role of creativity in economic growth, beginning with the transition from hunting and gathering for survival, to agriculture. He traces the role of creativity from early on, through the Industrial Revolution, the technological age, and to the current conceptual age. Few, if any, of these many breakthroughs, large and small, came about because of government grants. Actually a creative breakthrough is much more likely to take place at home than even in a corporate lab.

In Birth of the Moderns, historian Paul Johnson carefully examines the developments whose cumulative effect is known as the Industrial Revolution. These creative experiments took place predominantly in the homes of British and American tinkerers between 1815 and 1830. His work supports Florida's argument that being around, or in contact with creative people fosters one's own creativity.

Today cities like Austin and Raleigh-Durham are considered places that creative people find attractive. One possibility is to pack up and move to Austin, Raleigh-Durham, or even New York City or San Francisco. Rubbing shoulder with weird (i.e. creative) people will have a positive effect on you. Or you could envision a mini-community of creative people in your own city or town. Florida identifies three necessary qualities a location needs to attract creative people: talent, technology, and tolerance. If you can manage a mobile phone and a computer, and are conscious of your mind being receptive, he's talking about you.

To summarize, creativity is for everyone, and it is a key of opportunity to generating more income, and a more interesting life. For example, accountants are considered conforming bean counters, yet the ones who can use their creativity to lower your tax bill (legally of course) are the ones most in demand. Consider the archetypal nerdy engineer, without his creativity, there would be no rides at any amusement park. If scientist George Washington Carver had not decided to put his creative force to work, there would be no peanut butter. A situation too sad to even contemplate.