Out of Our Minds – a creative thinking book

The Power of Being Creative

Sir Ken Robinson is a creative expert and I’m a big fan of his Ted Talk. He challenges the way we choose to educate our children. He champions a radical rethink of our school systems in order to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence.

Sir Ken Robinson – Bring on the learning revolution
Sir Ken Robinson – Do schools kill creativity

Above are my favourite ted talk. He garnered more than 45 million views with his 2006 TED Talk, Do Schools Kill Creativity?

I would rate his book at 8/10 ⭐. Although I might be biased since I love his ideas and his Ted Talk.


A bit about Out of Our Minds: The Power of Being Creative

Revolutionary change requires creative approaches to wrestle with complex and unique challenges. Organizations of all types seek people who can think creatively, invent innovative solutions and adapt to a changing world. Creativity and innovation expert Sir Ken Robinson, whose TED talk, Do Schools Kill Creativity? garnered one of the largest audiences of all time which cautions that mass education systems designed to produce workers for the industrial age don’t prepare students to meet new world challenges.

He advocates a full-scale transformation of education systems on the premise that intelligence and the creative process are “diverse, dynamic and distinct.” This is a scholarly exploration of the evolution of mass education and attitudes toward intelligence and creativity. 

Society faces an unprecedented pace and scale of change thanks to population growth and advances in technology and the human ability to imagine, create and innovate offers a guide in this challenging new landscape, but people must be educated for the modern world. Most of our education system focused on producing a workforce for the industrial section rather than preparing our children for a life of their own. In my opinion, it is the primary reason why financial education is not on the menu.

Now, an education system’s three responsibilities are “personal, cultural and economic.” The assumption that certain academic disciplines have more economic value than others creates a hierarchy of subjects in school systems.

The policy decision to treat intellect and emotion as separate entities influenced the development of education systems.


A culture of creativity

Current education and training system might have been obsolete, designed for the industrial age and can no longer nurture and develop the talents and abilities necessary needed to succeed in today’s reality.

Thus, business realizes that in dealing with the growing complexity of our current economy would require developing a new culture, a culture of creativity. However, such solution depends more on the education system rather than any commercial organization.

“We are all born with immense natural talents but…too few people discover what they are and ever fewer develop them properly.”

We require more creative people, who can communicate effectively, works well in a team and prove agile enough to respond to change. But misconceptions about creativity may hamper our creativity.

Most believe that we are either born creative or we are not. Which simply isn’t true. The truth is everyone has creative capacities which can be nurtured and developed. And some even worried that creativity might lead to chaos and frivolity. Or might lead to an unsafe work condition.

Not necessarily, creativity usually leads to out-of-the-box thinking and solution. The fact is the choice to master creative skills is open and available to everyone. But like every other valuable skill, it requires hard work and discipline.


Fast-paced world

The world’s most profound changes took place in the last 5 decades, and the rate is getting faster. The advancement of new technology is pushing the world to more fresh possibilities for creative work.

James Watt improved the steam engine in the late 18th century, and that fueled the industrial age. Communication experienced a similar acceleration: the printing press in the 1400s, the telephone in 1875, radio in 1885, television in 1929, the World Wide Web in 1990, broadband in 2000, and the now-ubiquitous smartphones and other digital devices by 2010.

Other fields such as artificial intelligent and electric vehicle might also change the face of the consumer electronics and energy sector as well.

“The capacity for creativity is essentially human and it holds the constant promise of alternative ways of seeing, of thinking and of doing.”


The rise and fall of a college degree market value

A simple supply and demand situation where just decades ago because few people had college degrees, a higher education guaranteed good jobs. But as more people earn higher degrees, the market of a college education decreases.

As mentioned before the educational pioneers designed the first mass education system as a response to the industrial age request for skilled labour. In the 1960s, companies needed more workers with academic qualifications, and the number of people seeking higher degrees increased. This increase continued with the growing demands of the “knowledge economy.” In the last 40 years, the number of college graduates increased from one in five people to one in two. Hence, decreasing the value of a college education.

Hierarchy of Disciplines

Most school systems see mathematics, science and technology as more valuable compared to music, drama and art. Parents and advisers counsel young people away from the arts because they worry about poor job prospects. They see the arts as a hobby or a vehicle for self-expression, not as skills for earning a living.

Meanwhile, employers associate the subjects at the top of the hierarchy with intelligence and achievement. Yet academic ability and accomplishment are not the only expressions of human intelligence. An excess emphasis on academics leaves many intelligent, talented people on the sidelines and fails to nurture their capabilities. A waste of talent.


The Responsibility of Education

The three responsibility of an education system are

  1. Personal
  2. Cultural
  3. Economic

However, the current education system failed to address how to nurture creative thinkings in graduate, or even on how graduates can communicate effectively.

“The more complex the world becomes, the more creative we need to be to meet its challenges.”

Sir Ken Robinson suggest that the current education system need to revisit their three core function and find ways to develop systems that cultivate students’ individual talents and creativity, preparing them to the real work and give them the necessary tools and skill set for gainful employment.


Human diverse intelligence

Neuroscientist has gained a better understanding of how the human brain functions. It turned out that human intelligence is diverse, dynamic and distinct. Our brain filters the input from our senses, hence influencing our perception of the world.

Everyone processes input differently. Even when two-person witness the same event, they might come away with different impressions.

The brain is an organic object and its processes are fluid, dynamic and unique. Genetics, experiences, environments and feelings create a distinctive blend that shapes each person’s consciousness. Everyone has innate capabilities and talents.

One person may excel in mathematics and another in artistic expression, but both are intelligent. Stereotyping people as smart or not smart according to their academic abilities is limiting and unfair. If parents, society or education systems neglect children’s abilities, the children may never unearth their potential.


The Creative Process

Creativity is defined as the “generative” and “evaluative” process of devising “original ideas that have value.” Creativity has many different starting points. People put it to use many ways, like testing boundaries or exploring new options. Some ideas emerge half-formed, with several components competing for attention and development.

Often, creativity must conform to certain guidelines and constraints, such does as the Japanese 17-syllable, three-line poem, the haiku, which demands originality within a formal structure. Every act of creativity involves acting rather than simply thinking of ideas or imagining.

Creativity calls for evaluating and judging the validity and practicality of ideas and proposals. It demands testing, refining and developing your work. A creative work rarely emerges as a complete work but rather a process that involves failure, reflection and revision lead to fruition.


Holistic Education

Daniel Goleman, a leader in “positive psychology,” argues that the EQ, emotional intelligence, is equally as important as IQ. Expressing and understanding feelings, showing empathy, communicating well and demonstrating sensitivity to people and situations are “soft skills” of great value in relationships and in business.

“We cannot meet the challenges of the 21st century with the educational ideologies of the 19th.” 

Creativity dwells at this intersection of thought and feelings, art and sciences.


Imagination, Creativity and Innovation

Companies can develop an innovative organizational culture by focusing on three related but distinct processes: imagination, creativity and innovation. Imagination pictures an idea or future that doesn’t yet exist. Creativity is the process of generating valuable ideas; innovation makes those ideas a reality. Creative leaders cultivate innovation by constructing an environment in which new ideas flourish. They provide the freedom to take risks and experiment while putting systems in place to measure and evaluate.

Each of the three strategic roles of creative leadership leads to three core practices:

“For innovation to flourish, it has to be seen as an integral purpose of the whole organization rather than as a separate function.”


1. Personal

Embrace these concepts to nurture the creativity of everyone in your company:

Everyone has creative potential

When employees from every team and level of an organization feel management hears their ideas and values their contributions, they produce more and engage more deeply with their work.

Innovation is the child of imagination

Allow team members to take risks and explore their unique abilities. Facilitate collaboration, encourage new perspectives and foster fresh connections.

Everyone “can all learn to be more creative”

Invest in training programs that develop creative skills and teamwork.

“The role of a creative leader is not to have all the ideas: it’s to nurture a culture where everyone can have new ideas.” 


2. Group

Build creative teams on these principles:

Creativity thrives on diversity

High-performing creative teams have members of different ages, backgrounds, genders, ethnicities and experience.

Creativity loves collaboration

When everyone contributes and builds on each other’s contributions, they elevate their work and amplify each member’s abilities.

Creativity takes time

Let ideas take shape, evolve and develop.

“We all have profound natural capacities, but we all have them differently.”


3. Cultural

Support a corporate culture that breeds innovation based on these ideas:

Creative cultures are supple

Abandon traditional authoritarian leadership in favour of partnership and teamwork. Focus on engagement and relationships within and outside of the organization.

Creative cultures are inquiring

Listen with an open mind, offer support, and encourage other viewpoints to enhance trust and improve decision making.

Creative cultures need creative spaces

Design your physical plant to accommodate new models of work and interaction.


Memorable Quotes

Innovative organizations focus on “imagination, creativity and innovation.”

Neuroscience shows that human intelligence is “diverse, dynamic and distinct.”

Creativity means coming up with unique ideas that have worth.



Author: Muhamad Aarif

A notorious book addict by night and an oil and gas executive by day. As Mark Twain said, "The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." So, read, read, and read some more.

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