All Fired Up

Three books provide insights on creativity

“No matter what kind of creativity I studied, the process was the same. Creativity did not descend like a bolt of lightning that lit up the world in a single brilliant flash. It came in tiny steps, bits of insight, and incremental changes,” psychologist Keith Sawyer writes in Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity (Jossey-Bass, 2013). In his book, Sawyer draws on research and personal experience to provide simple strategies to enhance innovative thinking. He suggests, for instance, expanding your knowledge base by learning a new skill or talking to someone outside your immediate network.

Creativity is not limited to artists and inventors; anyone can harness their creative potential, says artist and entrepreneur Erik Wahl. In Unthink: Rediscover Your Creative Genius (Crown Business, 2013), Wahl reveals that success in business does not come from being a cog in the wheel but rather from the ability to think creatively. To that end, Wahl encourages goofing off at work, explaining that this unstructured time can fuel curiosity and spontaneous thought.

Ben & Jerry's has stayed relevant for 35 years by creating playful ice cream flavors and rolling with the times by introducing environmentally friendly packaging. In Creative Intelligence: Harnessing the Power to Create, Connect, and Inspire (HarperBusiness, 2013), Bruce Nussbaum, professor of innovation and design at Parsons the New School for Design, describes the demand for this type of creative intelligence to fuel problem solving and drive innovation. Nussbaum also provides ways to help individuals and businesses become more in tune with their creative intelligence by pivoting—adapting an idea and making it profitable—and playing—being silly and imaginative.