What is Applied Creativity? (an introduction)

Christopher. S. Sellers
Christopher. S. Sellers

'Creativity' is a buzzword that gets thrown around a lot, but in reality, how conducive is your workplace to creative practice?

Having had a foot in both creative and corporate worlds for over 15 years; creativity seems to be one of the most misunderstood and undervalued traits, while simultaneously being one of the most highly sought after.

I attribute this to a fundamental misunderstanding of what creativity is, how creativity works and in turn, how you can facilitate and reliably benefit from creative or lateral process.

Part of the misconception lies in the belief that creativity is something of a 'cloud'… intangible, esoteric and impossible to grasp.

Ironically, clouds are formed under very specific weather conditions; so too, can we simulate the necessary conditions to spark and flex creativity.

Generally when an organisation says "we want creative solutions" they're referring to one of two things:

  1. They don't know what they want.

  2. They have a problem and don't know how to fix it.

Seldom are organisations pro-active in employing creativity; it's normally reserved for when things aren't working. The old "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"… but what if it is broke? (I'm currently drafting this amid COVID-19, where every industry is clamouring for a quick fix...) Can businesses afford to remain reactive to situations, rather than pro-active?

A contradiction exists if you wish to solve a problem, but you are resistant or unable to find alternative solutions and this is a barrier that a lot of companies face.

So how can you find your own creative solutions, or how can you manage a team to reliably develop their own creative process?

What would be more effective, is if Engineers were able to flex their own creativity to solve problems, just as a musician can improvise within a Jazz set, just as a Doctor can discover a unique non-invasive medical procedure; a process I call Applied Creativity.

Applied Creativity. dispells the belief that creativity is unique to any personality type and proves that anyone can flex their own creative process to uniquely solve problems and innovate.

For example; let us compare two different creative fields; Architects and Dancers.

Architects are creative; the ability to conceptualise a design in 3D, an understanding of symmetry and light then drafting this to paper (or via CAD) requires creative skill.

If we were to ask an Architect to choreograph a modern ballet, they would struggle.

An Architect's creativity does not translate to choreographing a ballet.

Likewise, dancers can visualise themselves moving through space, harmonising with partners and music; this creativity does not translate to designing a home.

Both are creative.

Both require the ability to understand and utilise abstract concepts.

Both fail at addressing the relatively simple needs of the other.


Because creativity alone is not enough.

And this is where we can start to demystify what creativity is, how it operates and then, how we can best flex our creativity to work for us.

Creativity is our innate ability to problem solve - to find pathways where we meet barriers - and this is what makes creativity so effective when we harmonise with expertise and skill.

What creativity isn't, is a set formula, because creativity is dynamic and reacts via a pathway that other behaviours do not… and that is…

Creativity requires discovery.

This is why, when discussing with Artists, you hear much discussion over 'my process' with metaphors of 'being lost in in the woods' or 'no idea what I'm doing'.

It's also why creativity garners the reputation of being esoteric and intangible; while it may appear so from the outside, what is often missed is the immense technical skill required in any creative field.

Film scripts obey strict storylines and structure.

Photographers understand lighting and composition.

Actors and singers are physically, vocally and emotionally trained.

None of this occurs by accident, by whim or by magic.

Equally, none of these processes develop in a linear fashion, or follow a standard algorithm (unlike mathematics or coding) and this is what distinguishes creativity from other pursuits and confuses/astounds audiences and observers.

So the task when approaching complex problem solving from a creative position is; how do we frame this puzzle in a way that allows us to discover solutions?

This is our introduction to Applied Creativity.

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Christopher. S. Sellers is an expert on Creativity + Innovation

Founder + Director of Black Bulb Creative