Book Review – Creative Confidence by Tom Kelley & David Kelley


Creative Confidence is about applying innovation. Written by the Kelley brothers. David Kelley founded IDEO and the at Stanford University, and Tim is a partner at IDEO and an author on innovation. The authors indeed have plenty of experience on which to draw. This book passes that experience to the reader in a practical and applicable way. The key message is that everyone can enjoy using their imagination to solve problems, not those considered “creative”.

The book defines creativity as ‘using your imagination to create something new. This definition leaves plenty to consider as creative. A new spreadsheet to improve data management is as creative as well designed logo or a new people management strategy for example. We all start life being creative as children, forming worlds and solutions, but may of use stop ‘being’ creative. The book argues that creativity is a muscle that needs exercise and use to keep strong.

The authors present a number of practical ways of rediscovering your own creativity to bring to bear in your workplace. It recommends giving up the notion that you may have developed over the years through the way in creativity is discouraged in our schooling. Through courage, belief, and commitment you can create a mind-set that follows creative paths to come up with innovative solutions.

Design Thinking is a method we can all apply to look at the human needs of a problem to develop a new solution. By looking in detail at the end user, testing different solutions, one can ‘design’ a solution.

Failure is something that we can use to our advantage, by resisting the temptation to give up, then by learning from mistakes and making changes toward the best solution.

New experiences promote inspiration, if we wait around waiting for an epiphany, it may never arrive. We need to seek new learnings to provoke the flow ideas. One way of doing this in our everyday lives is to experience even the most mundane of tasks or environments with “new eyes”.  If we approach something and ask ourselves “why?” At every chance, we find the answers will offer new insights about products and services.

The last section looks at how minimising stress leads to have the free mental space to be creative or think creatively. Working in a team to share the load, and ideas, is one environmental strategy to promote innovation. Being happy in your life and work, in terms of balance, also has a clearing effect on the mind to promote innovative thinking and seeing the everyday with new eyes. Conquering fear (a common theme among business books) is also important as fear brings stress and limits our opportunities to learn and gain experiences.

Creativity is available for everyone, not just the artistic. Our schooling and society tends to apply a downward pressure on it flourishing, we can work on it and get it back. To do this we need to face our fear and take action. This book is a great first step in taking action and start again to nurture our creative selves with confidence.

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