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Conceptual Creativity

February 19, 2009

When someone says “I’m not creative” they often mean “I’m not artistic.” Artistic creativity produces experiences that help us see or understand things in a new way. Conceptual creativity identifies new ways to meet an important challenge. Conceptual creativity is both new and relevant.

real-wireframe-car-subaru-echtes-drahtgittermodell-autoConceptual creativity is the engine of business innovation. It helps us solve problems in new ways – often by integrating current knowledge with new concepts. When Henry Ford wanted a faster, cheaper way to make cars, he combined his knowledge of automobile production with concepts from meat packing (assembly lines), the US Army (interchangeable mechanical parts), and cigarette production (continuous-flow production).

Transportation expert Robin Chase combined wireless technology, fleet service and pay-as-you-go concepts to create Zipcar, an urban car sharing service. She built on the success of this venture by founding GoLoco (online ridesharing) and Buzzcar (p2p carsharing in France). Conceptual creativity and artistic creativity are both fueled by exposure to diverse fields of knowledge.

Coaching tip: Take quick, enriching breaks that expose you to ideas from many fields by clicking onto TED.com about once a week and watching one of their brief but “inspired talks by the world’s greatest thinkers and doers.” Make a note of interesting ideas from each talk. This practice will develop a source book of approaches and ideas to consider as you address your next important challenge.

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