Creativity: A Prelude

Creativity is often considered to be a relatively misunderstood phenomenon.

Like ‘marketing’, it is a term that is regularly used and repeatedly abused – often twisted, bent and misapplied to the extent that anything odd or curious can end up being labelled ‘creative’.

Since it is not a well-bound concept and one over which academic consensus is still a work-in-progress, it is often the case that creativity is used as just another “marketing ploy”, in the belief that labelling one’s products or services as ‘creative’ will somehow increase sales.

Creativity is generally associated with the various stages of idea generation.

Although numerous claims have been put forward stating that a clear definition for creativity is very hard to conjure up, scholars and professionals generally agree that it refers to “the process of generating new ideas” (Alves et al, 2007:27).

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While Jerome Jewler (1989:18) called creativity “such a vague word”, Edward de Bono, defined creativity as “a mystery”.  He insists, however, that it should not be regarded as a “mystical talent” that is only imparted to a select few (de Bono, 1992:310).

Although it is a concept that may be hard to define without generating academic controversy, creativity is something most people recognise once they witness it.

For many decades, de Bono has been one of the central figures in studies on creativity.  Through his work, he has identified the main characteristics of a phenomenon that to this day still begs for more exploration.

de Bono considers creativity as the ability to produce anything that was not previously in existence.

Basing himself on his research on the broad and developing subject of creative ability, he concluded that it is “in the perceptual phase of thinking” that creativity is generated (de Bono, 1992:58).

The arguments he suggests refer to how the human brain is trained to think systematically and in similar formats to such an extent that it is often incapable of seeing anything that is not very clearly delineated.


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