Thursday, 14 May 2015

Go beyond ego and self-involvement: look before, around and after

"Bach and Mozart are at the apex of everything in terms of what we call the creative process, because they have in some sense gone beyond ego and self-involvement in their work."

Richard Danielpour from The Muse That Sings: Composers Speak about the Creative Process by Ann McCutchan   

We often make two crucial errors when trying to creatively problem solve:
  1. We concentrate solely upon the problem, its internal characteristics and workings.
  2. We respond to a problem exclusively from our own internal perspectives. 
This means, like composers who fail to consider their audiences and lose themselves in the complexities of their music, that we severely limit our ability to develop ideas that are not only creative but also feasible and attractive. 

It also means we fail to understand the multi-dimensional nature of problems, which only becomes clear when problems are seen not in isolation but as part of a system that includes the markers and traces that lead to and surround them and the artefacts they leave behind.

Picture a pharaoh buried in his tomb. We learn something of the man by examining his mummified remains; we learn about the man and much more about his life and the world he lived in by examining the markers and traces of his rich existence and the artefacts placed around him.

To avoid the above errors and develop creative, attractive and feasible solutions we need to look for and examine what led to, surrounds and is left behind by problems:

What conditions prefaced the problems? What were things like immediately before the problems emerged? When and where were the first ripples of their emergence? Who noticed them first and why?

What reactions are the problems causing and what marks are they making?

What traces and artefacts have the problems left behind? What recollections do people have of the problems? What lasting impacts have there been upon people's memories and lives?

What footprints in the sand have problems left behind? 

How long will the footprints take to wash away? 

To where do the footprints lead?

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