Ideas are given away; the brain is creative when it wants to be

Our creative experiences start in the womb, specifically during play. Thanks to surprising evidence from high-resolution 4D sonograms, we know that we live in a safe environment that favours experimentation: with the umbilical cord, with the rhythm and movement of the mother’s body, with voices, stretches… In fact all our body beyond the brain is creative. For example, a simple cell, like lymphocytes, has the capacity to be creative as it can store, synthesize and transform information at the cellular level.

The path of creativity starts early and doesn’t ever end. Creativity for our brain is about combining. It feeds off incidences and experiences to be able to join the dots afterwards. And it does this almost automatically, so long as the right conditions prevail. What’s more, we all have a capacity for creativity, in the same way as we have the capacity for dreaming.

In the world of organizations, we endeavour to reinforce creativity, we seek, we reward and even we organize idea contests, appealing to a person’s extrinsic motivation. That is to say, the focus is placed on the wrong chronological place: after creativity has bloomed. If we pay attention to the information neuroscience offers us, we can say that the focus in fact would have to be elsewhere: before the ideas surface. Switch the focus and invest in environments favourable to creativity.

It would be quite bold to assert that we should reproduce the intrauterine environment within organizations. However, it’s outlandish to corroborate that we have a tendency to do something our brain doesn’t need in order to join the dots: create pressure, extra coffee, work with large volumes of data or even worse brain storm in groups. This creates a lot of mental noise and pressure just to look good in front of your boss and peers. Such customs tend to make a lot of noise in our brain and distance it from the tranquillity it needs to be creative.

Incubating emotionality that fosters tolerance to frustration and the ability to overcome errors is the key to boosting creativity. We are referring to emotions that promote a state of calm and security within teams, giving them the confidence to create, propose, question, connect, collaborate and take on challenges. It is fundamental to understand that before investing in processes or techniques, it is necessary to transform habits and corporate culture. A revolution indeed—are we ready to listen to science?

Creativity cannot be bought; it costs nothing, it’s voluntary and it’s free. It appeals to intrinsic motivation. Ideas are given away, and even if they were to be paid for, there’d be no guarantee that they would be shared, people hand them out if they feel like it.

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