Created by Libby Levi for

I only have time for a short-ish post this week so thought I’d explore a question that occurred to me recently. Why is creativity scary to some people in healthcare? Not design, not art, not innovation — but creativity itself, as a process. Some potential factors:

  • Embracing creativity means doing things differently. In healthcare, different is an unquantified risk. Risk is not baked into healthcare process.
  • Creativity is unpredictable. Where does it comes from, how does it behave, how does it fade — all questions attempted to be answered by Amazon’s 12,000 books on creativity, but we’re still exploring, still researching, still asking. Unpredictability raises questions about the intrinsic nature of creativity that can’t, and arguably shouldn’t, be answered.
  • Creativity isn’t measurable. How can you measure how creative something is? Creativity must be tied to a different goal — behavior change, e.g. –  to be gauged scientifically, which it can be, but the measurement will always be indirect.
  • Creativity is intuitive. Intuition is often just as scary as creativity.
  • Creativity has no scale. Creativity can imply both big and small, sweeping and incremental. It covers all adjectives.
  • Creativity is challenging, from all perspectives — the observer’s, user’s, and maker’s. We are all challenged by creativity.
  • Creativity does not equal success. Sometimes creativity fails and fails hard. One must accept that risk and be brave anyway in order to keep being creative.
  • Creativity doesn’t like rules. Some structure is okay. Constraints are a blessing. But rules, especially if they are mass-applied, impersonal, somewhat generic or arbitrary (in order to cover a large population, for example), are mostly a hindrance for creativity.
  • Creativity is overwhelming. Possibilities are boundless.
  • Creativity takes time. Often it takes its own sweet time. Its unpredictable nature means creativity can’t be rushed, so time — life’s most precious commodity — must be allocated for it.
  • Creativity implies the lone genius. The idea of creativity as collaborative is not as prevalent as the idea of someone working alone on highly individualistic pursuits. This preconception makes creativity an inaccessible and exclusive process.
  • Creativity isn’t enough. Creativity is wild and untamed. Other skill-sets are needed to pin down a good idea and make it happen. Sometimes these skill-sets are difficult to learn.

Understanding the challenges of creativity can hopefully lead to empathy from spontaneous, unpredictable designers as well as acceptance from more rigid, process-oriented folks. Everyone is inherently creative. But no output can retain a creative, innovative, challenging quality without overcoming some of these barriers and accepting some of its risk.


I like these articles:

And I love this book:

I also love this Ted talk on creativity by Elizabeth Gilbert, an oldie but a goodie. What else should I be reading or watching?