Natalie Nixon just published what I’m calling my favorite business book of 2020, The Creativity Leap. Here’s her big idea:
I define creativity as the ability to toggle between wonder and rigor in order to solve problems and to deliver novel value. And I see inquiry, improvisation and intuition as the practices that increase those capacities.
And my short breakdown:
Everyone is creative in their own way. If you’re capable of being curious, you’re capable of being creative. If you want to build that muscle, you have to strike a balance between wide-eyed wonder and elbow-greased rigor. Do them together with a focus on producing some insight, product, or service that’s of value to the world, and you’re a creative.
Whether you’re composing a symphony or trouble-shooting a clogged drain, you’re toggling between wonder and rigor. Nixon days we “ghettoize creativity to the arts,” but we really the same process at work whenever we find anyone reaching for a novel solution. That means we can also derive useful problem-solving lessons from both the composer and the plumber.
When we engage in creativity at the organizational level, we drive innovation. This is where the really exciting potential comes into play. By building a culture that regularly asks and answers productive questions (inquiry), constantly looks to build off of the momentum of each other (improvisation), and trusts its own best instincts (intuition), we set our organizations up to deal with whatever challenges the marketplace presents us with.
Thriving in an ever-changing world requires we build the capacity to handle whatever comes at us. We can’t leap over the inevitable chasms without a method for innovating to jump successfully. She’s handing us categories to prepare and drive progress.
I am sure I’ll write more about this book, but Nixon’s core idea on “the ability to toggle between wonder and rigor in order to solve novel problems,” gets a chef’s kiss. She’s given us a data-driven and compelling case for explaining why creativity is an essential ingredient of any workplace culture. Check out Natalie Nixon’s website at figure8thinking.com, The Creativity Leap book, or at least read the intro here to get a sample.