Everyday Creativity

“Everyday creativity isn’t about the isolated individual and his or her special genius thought processes. It’s about social encounters, and it happens more in the action of execution than in thinking or planning.” -Ken Sawyer ‘Explaining Creativity: The Science of Human Innovation’

We still have a tendency to think about creativity in big ‘C’ rather than little ‘c’ terms. The new product that disrupts entire markets. The lone genius lost in their laboratory dreaming up inventions that will eventually change our world. Or the divinely anointed experts who are creating new, novel and original ideas that will change how we think and do.

This is how we think of creativity, and it often limits us and our organizations. When we see creativity in these terms, we avoid it because we see it as an insurmountable mountain to scale. It effects our mindset. And it hinders our efforts to scale creativity across our organizations.

If we want more creativity. If we want to get to more innovation. We have begin to think in ‘everyday’ terms. We must begin to determine how we make creativity an inherent and integral part of our everyday work.

In ‘Explaining Creativity’, Keith Sawyer discusses six researched learnings on how we can begin to infuse creativity into the sphere of our daily work…

  1. Everyday creativity is collaborative;
  2. Everyday creativity is improvised;
  3. Everyday creativity can’t be planned in advance, or carefully revised before execution;
  4. Everyday creativity emerges unpredictably from a group of people;
  5. Everyday creativity depends on shared cultural knowledge;
  6. In everyday creativity, the process is the product.

When looking at these researched learnings on making space for everyday creativity, we might begin to see why it is difficult to engage and scale creativity and innovation in education.

  • Too often we work in isolation, silos, rather than connected, collaborative communities.
  • Much of our work is carried out through well planned lessons. There is often little room or time for exploration, experimentation and discovery.
  • In education, we thrive and work for predictability and linearity.  We like to remove the unknowns and unpredictable from our work.  We try to create lessons that are fail proof.
  • Much of our focus is on the destination, rather than the journey.  We hold up the product over the process.

When you really look deeply at what the research of these studies provides us, we see our humanness as the core of creativity. It requires vulnerability, a willingness to connect and collaborate with others. A willingness to push our ideas and learning into places and spaces we’ve never been, and often never considered. A willingness to let go of control and allow the process to unfold in its own unpredictable way. Which is neither easy nor comfortable. As well as being very foreign to our educational landscape, in most instances. And above all, it requires not just vulnerability, but the courage afforded through safe and trusting environments to take the risks to begin to engage in this work.

When we determine to open this path…

We will begin to realize creativity and innovation on an ‘everyday’ basis.

“Our everyday creativity is not only good for us but also one of the most powerful capacities we have, bringing us alive in each moment, affecting our health and well-being, offering richness and alternatives in what we do, and helping us move further in our creative and personal development.”  -Ruth Richards


1 thought on “Everyday Creativity

  1. Great post David…

    Creativity seems to be a word we use often… but not necessarily understand.

    For me, it is about infusing what I like & what I am good at into tasks, activities, and most especially learning. I have written a few blog posts in the vein of learning & teaching as an art form…


    Much of your post resonated with me…the only place I might have to object, is the notion of working collaboratively as creative artists. For me, I am the opposite. I am more likely to work by myself, than connect & collaborate when I am creating & making… the piece that is key is the sharing… most artists & creative minds wants to SHARE what they have made with those around them… to me it speaks to artisans & craftsmanship… celebrate but collect feedback on how it can be better, next time.

    Thanks for for taking the time to dig more deeply into CREATIVITY…. a necessary piece to each & everyone’s learning.

    It becomes that spark… that fans the fire within.

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