Design professor and business journalist Bruce Nussbaum’s new book about creativity begins with an anecdote about Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The story is about the development of their musical talent and it illustrates that creativity is less a stroke of genius than the natural result of years of study, the hard work of attention, listening to other people who are doing the same thing, working together and experimenting to generate something new. Similarly, Nussbaum’s study of design and innovation within organizations leads him to conclude that the hierarchical processes of most corporations dampens the social dynamics that foster innovation, such as serendipity, discovery and play.
In his book Creative Intelligence, Nussbaum explains that creativity is not a rare genetic trait – it is a learned skill. People cultivate their creative ability by learning from others, collaborating and sharing. Nussbaum outlines five ways that people can become more creative including partnering with other knowledgeable people and by connecting different sources of information in new ways. Creative people have a playful mind-set and are more willing to take risks and navigate uncertainty without concern for failure. And many creative individuals, including artists and entrepreneurs, see their work as a calling. Their belief in their mission motivates them to work hard and their faith inspires others join their cause.
Nussbaum shows how the organic messiness of some organizations leads to creative discovery. So it may be purposeful that this book is written in a disorganized style, almost like a conversation. The work contains interesting insights and engaging examples, but the writing is uneven. It becomes hard work to stay focused and to draw meaning from the text. Recommend with reservation.