Innovation & Insights

10 Paradoxes of Creativity

Sam Frentzel-Beyme Follow Managing Partner & Strategy Director

The Short of It

  • Creativity as a concept can be hard to pin down.
  • Balancing extremes is often where insight reveals itself.
  • A useful tool for creativity is exploring the gap in paradoxes.

The challenge with creativity is that it can be hard to pin down. On one hand, this is what makes it so difficult to teach. On the other, it’s what it makes it so amazing when it all comes together. The key is really about finding the correct oscillation between extremes. Luc de Brabandere, a BCG Fellow, in his book The Forgotten Half of Change explores this space in a nice way with his Ten Paradoxes of Creativity.

1. Encouraging divergence while ensuring convergence.

2. When it comes to being inventive, vast multidisciplinary knowledge is a plus. So is the total absence of knowledge.

3. There is more in two heads than one, and more in three heads than in two. But, at some point, the effect is reversed. A crowd doesn’t invent anything.

4. To create, comfort is essential. So is the lack of comfort.

5. A computer will be programmed better to the extent that its user manages to deprogram himself or himself.

6. Creativity is freed in people who manage to switch off their critical faculty. Yet, creative people have a highly developed critical faculty.

7. Human creativity can help us build a future, but people are never so creative as when ti comes to destroying things.

8. An absence of creativity may lead a company to a catastrophe. An excess of creativity may bring it to disaster.

9. We want creativity. We fear it too.

10. Creativity is as old as the world itself, yet is the essential tool for bringing a new world into existence.

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