« Creativity: Daydreamers Get Things Done »

Given the ever-increasing speeds with which we get work done these days, are we on a fast track to the demise of the creative process? Quite possibly, yes...

What spurred this line of thinking was Discovering the Virtues of a Wandering Mind, a 6/28/2010 John Tierney New York Times article. The gist of the piece is that "scientific" research now supports the concept that wandering minds, be they engaged in daydreaming, doodling or any number of “task-unrelated thoughts,” can foster creativity and help you solve problems. To that, all I have to say is “Well, thank you Captains of the Obvious!”

We're All Daydreamers at Heart

It says a great deal that an article on this subject was ever published in a major news publication. It seems to be a statement that we are all daydreamers at heart and it would behoove us not to lose our innate capacity to let out minds wander. The NYT article states that, during waking hours, people’s minds wander about 30 percent of the time. If you suddenly lost your capacity to "mind wander" during boring tasks, the article states, “life would be horrible.” But, to take that thought further, you’d lose your abilities for introspection, reflection and inference – key elements that make us human. They are also key elements in the creative process. 

Room To Think: Essential to the Creative Process

Mind wandering takes time, but time is exactly what we are all lacking these days. Our culture’s insistence on the "instant answer" is relentless. When I started in the advertising/marketing business in the late 80s, we were often encouraged to take the project brief and any accompanying research and actually think about it for a week. Then the creative team (a dying breed these days) would reconvene to brainstorm concepts. We'd all contribute ideas developed over bits and pieces of days at the office or other places (while working out, while showering, while preparing dinner, while playing with the kids, etc). It was a rich creative stew (seasoned with generous portions of mind wandering); the longer we let it cook, the better the end results. Sadly, those days of satisfying creative processes -- the kind you could really sink your teeth into -- are waning. Time is too precious. As a result, creativity is now more likely than ever to be viewed as a commodity to push through as quickly as possible. What saddens me most is the growing belief among clients that fast, copious content trumps substance.

What Do You Think?

Is the creative process alive and well in today's fast-paced business environment? Or are we on a fast track to its demise? What does your company do to help nurture creativity? Please share your thoughts in the comments section. And, as always, thanks for reading. 

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