Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by Tom Kelley & David Kelley, Crown Business, 288 pages, $28.00, Hardcover, October 2013, ISBN 9780385349369
As children, we were encouraged to practice at everything—our multiplication tables, piano lessons, batting/catching/kicking/throwing. With practice, we were told, comes perfect (or at least proficiency). But the older we got, the more we gravitated toward those things that we were most confident in. Those of us that gravitated toward “the arts” were deemed creative; those of us who had a knack for fields like math were relegated to a different category, and probably lost confidence in our creative potential as we got older. Tom and David Kelley explain why this is a mistake.
Creativity is much broader and more universal than what people typically consider the “artistic” fields. We think of creativity as using your imagination to create something new in the world. Creativity comes into play wherever you have the opportunity to generate new ideas, solutions, or approaches.
The Kelley brothers would know. They have “worked together for thirty years at the forefront of innovation”—most notably at IDEO, a leading innovation and design firm. David Kelley was also the creator of the d.school at Stanford University, and Tom Kelley the author of the classic Art of Innovation. And in their new book, Creative Confidence, they encourage everyone to contribute creatively to the greater good, whether it’s of your department, organization, community, or society.
To that end, the Kelleys introduce us to the three factors that must be balanced within every successful creative venture: Technical (Is the idea feasible?); Business (Can we afford it?); and People (Who is this for and what do they need?). It is that last part—being human centered—that the Kelleys think usually gets overlooked Creating a sustainable creative culture “depends on an absence of fear of failure and judgment” in the work place, they believe, because to truly innovate you need everyone in the organization to believe in themselves as creative thinkers to contribute their ideas.
At IDEO and the d.school, we seldom say, “That’s a bad idea” or “That won’t work” or “We’ve tried that before.” When we disagree with someone else’s idea, we push ourselves to ask, “What would make it better? What can I add to make it a great idea?” Or “What new idea does that spur?” By doing so, we keep the creative momentum going instead of cutting off the flow of ideas.
It’s this kind of advice that makes Creative Confidence such a valuable resource. Not only are the authors some of the most innovative practitioners in business today, but they offer applicable advice we can implement immediately. They even offer a chapter of “Creativity Challenges” to continue your practice. This book isn’t so much about setting your inner artist free, as it is about feeling free to acknowledge and honor your ideas and your natural talent for creative thinking.