Creative Thinking or Problem Solving?

In a recent Guardian article an Open University professor slagged off Trevor Beattie for suggesting that engineers and scientists were not ‘creative’. In the article Trev’ talked about his impending maiden flight on board Virgin Galactic and he was considering the effect space travel could have on the ‘creative’ mind. What Professor John Zarnecki took from this was nothing short of Mr Beattie suggesting that scientists do not have creative minds. Now if this was the case then I’d be as perplexed as the prof. But I don’t actually think that was the point being made.

Professor Zarnecki went on to support his remarks by talking about the brilliant minds who design, plan, implement, search and research in the name of science. And there’s no doubt that these are brilliant minds. But isn’t the professor talking about logical problem solving? What he uses as evidence of creativity is not pure creativity per se, well it isn’t to my mind. It’s not imagining, daydreaming, fantasising or creating unique and extraordinary combinations. Much of what he uses as evidence of creativity is actually scientific thinking.

I’m a big fan of science and technology and how it can help bring exciting and amazing ideas to life. I actually think technology and science hold the key to the future of advertising and brand communications.

However the point I’m making is you’ve got to have an idea first. You need that unexplainable flash of inspiration that comes from nowhere, that creative supernova where there’s no precedence, no evidence, no methodology, no measurements, no structure, no instructions. You need the thing that comes into existence from thin air. You need an idea. Then, and only then, can you start making it. And it’s at this time you’ll need the brilliant minds who can design, plan and implement.

Science and technology are great to make things happen, but there’s got to be a dream first. I think all Trev was pondering was how the experience of space travel would modify creative ideas, not scientific thought.

Over and out.

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