“The Myths of Creatvity”


It’s a funny little word with potent meaning. It means to expose or excoriate (a claim, assertion, sentiment, etc.) as being pretentious, false, or exaggerated. It’s not until we debunk old myths and misconceptions that we can begin to create effective strategies.

I’m a big supporter of continuous learning and one of the most important things that has been ingrained in me in my undergrad time was the power of modern research to back up a statement.  I’ve learned the value of databases, scholarly articles, and publications. With these resources for modern research as a strong foundation, we can begin to reveal misconceptions that we may have regarding strategy, leadership, innovation, and etc.

I have recently finished reading a book that did just that and it’s one that made me rethink the way I view creativity and innovation. This book is called The Myths of Creativity by author and scholar David Burkus. It is “the truth about how innovative companies and people generate great ideas.” This book is about using modern research and stories to debunk myths and misconceptions…debunk it did. One of the most surprising myths to me was the “Eureka Myth”. This is the myth that ideas pop out of nowhere and the hard work is the next step. The revealing of this untruth, to me, explains why it is important to step away from a problem solving endeavor in order to let my thoughts “incubate” (more about that concept is explained in the book).

Another myth is one that gives me hope when debunked. This is the “breed myth”. My perception of a creative person has been just like the book explains; a long haired artist, or in the business world, one of those marketing folks. A management major with interests in finance isn’t one we view as creative which meant I was spit out of luck. With research from the University of Berkeley California explained in Myths the falsity of this assumption. I shan’t give away anymore of the myths in the book but there are 10 myths in total that, when revealed and applied, have the ability to generate a competitive advantage in the way we create, innovate, and lead. 

I would recommend this book to anyone, not just business people and innovative people, but to anyone whom creativity applies in your work and daily life (which is all of us). I found this book similar to Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths & Total Nonsense; Profiting From Evidence-Based Management by Jeffery Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton. It is anther debunking book that uses strong research to reveal half-truths in the business world and show we can profit from evidence.

The Myths of Creativity will be sure to debunk the misconceptions regarding creativity and innovation and set us straight in a way that we can profit from.

4.1 in a nutshell…but is it all it’s cracked up to be?

squirrel eating peanuts

The number on the street before the weekend began was 4.1% and that’s a positive increase. The Bureau of Economic Analysis released the final revised real GDP number for the 3rd quarter. This number is supposed to wow us all especially since the last estimate for the third quarter real GDP was 3.6%.  Real Gross Domestic Product by definition is the monetary value of all finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a year. This number is then adjusted for inflation. Real GDP is arguably an indicator of the health of the economy of a nation and even said to be a gauge of a country’s standard of living. To obtain a better understanding, it can be broken down into the following oversimplified formula:

 GDP= C + G + I + NX

GDP is consumer spending + government spending + inventories + net exports

 But hold on a minute there.

Further analysis of this number may keep us from celebrating a fantastic outlook just yet. A couple fundamental questions must be asked first. One: What component of the real GDP formula contributed to this positive number? And two: Is this contribution sustainable? The major contributor to this number is inventories which added a whopping 1.7%. Private sector businesses boosted their inventories from July to September of this year (hopefully not because they couldn’t sell their products. heh).

Seems dandy but there’s a catch; inventories are a one-shot deal. If inventories were a big contributor for this quarter, it is highly likely this number will be low the next quarter. Already, analysts have decreased their estimates for the third quarter with this piece of information. Other important contributors were consumer spending on healthcare and business intellectual property. Personally, I’m a little concerned regarding the sustainability of these numbers (not to be a Debby downer).

I can’t dog on this number without some balance.On a positive note, the boost in consumer spending is a big plus to the US economy. Proof is in the steady stock market and housing numbers (see my last blog post).

It is true that 4.1%  is a good lead-in for a press conference as proof of economic recovery Mr. President, but with a little more analysis and critical thinking it might not be all it’s cracked up to be.

Housing starts, housing smarts

Number of the day: 22.7

What is it? That’s the percentage of the rise of housing starts in November. It is a number that is released by the United States Commerce Department around the seventeenth of each month and it’s a number that economists have their eye on. This number is one especially to draw attention to. This is the largest increase in housing starts since 2008.  (Remember the housing crisis? Bubble? Anyone?…)

But what is a housing start? A housing start is a new residential construction project that is began during the month. It includes building permits, housing starts, and housing completion data. These numbers are seasonally adjusted using statistical formulas because they can be affected by weather. That means how many neighbors were rudely awakened by hammering and pounding of the construction of the new house next door.housing starts

What is the meaning of this?!?!*

Data with knowledge of its implications becomes information which can then become a resource. I am a strong believer that when you know the world around you, you create for yourself a competitive advantage to take it on. (Knowledge is power.) My growing interest in these economic statistics pulls me to find meaning in numbers such as these. And yes, seemingly gibberish combinations of data and jargon that are released by the government have significance. These are numbers that are indicators of the state of the economy and are important tools to knowing your business.  Analysis of this percentage increase in housing starts indicates that demand for housing is growing despite the similar growth in mortgage rates. More people are choosing to build new houses during this time since five years.  The predictions made by organizations such as Bloomberg were nowhere near. Though this is only a snapshot, it could be a sign of a better outlook for the economy of 2014.

More neighbors rudely awakened but possibly a better economy to come.

*Punctuation added for dramatic effect