Is creativity the sacred realm of natural born geniuses? Or is there a formula to creativity that anyone can learn?
That’s the essential question at the heart of The Creative Curve: How to Develop the Right Idea at the Right Time, big data entrepreneur Allen Gannett’s new book, which launches with a big party in New York City on June 14th.
In the book and in our recent podcast interview, Gannett overturns the mythology around creative genius, and reveals the science behind achieving breakout success in any field.
Creatives are notorious for resisting structure, sometimes rejecting it outright. But Gannett claims it’s actually the unsuccessful ones who do that. (I think it also has to do with a refusal to learn the business side of creativity, the underlying theme of the HOW Design Live podcast.)
Gannett, who’s been on the “30 Under 30” lists for both Inc. and Forbes, is the founder and CEO of TrackMaven, a marketing analytics platform whose clients have included Microsoft, Marriott, Saks Fifth Avenue, Home Depot, Aetna, Honda, and GE. He. His session in Boston last Spring at the first ever HOW Marketing Live, Metrics: The Role of Data in Creativity, one of the most engaged and most engaging, explored how the world's best creatives use data in their processes.
He argues that while creativity is not magic, it is also not exactly original and that successful creatives, 25 of whom he interviewed for the book, use data, structure, discipline and hard work to achieve their success.
Not only that – he also reveals a secret shared by some of the highest creative achievers, from stand-up comedians to Hollywood moviemakers and musicians, like Taylor Swift.
It’s not that they have something others don’t have; it’s that they do something others don’t do: they combine the novel with the familiar. “There is a pattern that successful creative people leverage to make hits, one that’s accessible to almost anyone. It’s intuitive, but it’s also learnable.
“As the world’s most creative people have discovered, we are enticed by the novel and the familiar,” writes Gannett. “By understanding the mechanics of what I call the “the creative curve” – the point of optimal tension between the novel and the familiar – anyone can better engineer mainstream success.”
In other words, people of high creative achievement have learned to time their creative output (the novelty) to the trends (the familiar) – so that their work is familiar enough for the masses to be open to it, but also has a tinge of novelty to drive interest.
It’s a fascinating idea and, in a world where robots are encroaching and white-collar jobs are being automated, creativity may be the skill that will save humanity – if we learn it.
So what can you do to enhance your creativity?
Gannett recommends making more of what people respond to rather than using just your gut. “Instead of approaching it like an art, develop a process for how you listen to your audience, come up with the ideas and then validate those ideas before creating anything.”
By Ilise Benun of Marketing-Mentor.com