Book Review: THE MYTHS OF CREATIVITY

Review THE MYTHS OF CREATIVITY

In terms of full disclosure: earlier this year, I signed on to be part of the launch team for The Myths of Creativity, a book by David Burkus focusing on misconceptions around innovation. Thankfully, I recently finished reading my complimentary electronic copy of the book (for review purposes, of course) after a few weeks' spent working on various projects. My opinions are my own.

....which is rather convenient, because The Myths of Creativity is a definite must-read for not just business audiences, but also people working in non-profits, social enterprises, or any other mission-driven organizations. Not only is it a very easy read, but quite honestly, it's a breath of fresh air.

Using a variety of examples from business, Burkus outlines not just the misconceptions that organizations have around creativity, but also how some actually defy those misconceptions. For example, he discusses how Pixar hired "black sheep" to spur creativity in his chapter on The Cohesive Myth. Local company 37 Signals gets featured as examples of both The Incentives Myth and The Constraints Myth. Throughout the book, Burkus focuses on the rather self-limiting beliefs organizations have around creativity, and then deftly undermines them with the idea that creativity is well within reach, and that any organization can drive internal and external creativity.

For many organizations, trying to tap into the creative mindset means relying on many tried-and-true beliefs, and the mission-driven world is full of those who embrace creativity, claiming that only "they" understand their field. Burkus does an exemplary job of locating the gems of insight found when many myths around being "creative" are busted. In the mission-driven realm, this is exceptionally critical, as many organizations feel that their unique constraints, their spirit of collaboration, and lack of incentives serve to inhibit full creativity. For this reason, The Myths of Creativity is a must-read - social enterprises, non-profits, and other like-minded organizations will find a wealth of information and guidance. Although an amazingly easy read, Myths contains a wealth of ideas that can serve as a guidepost. (Think less "how-to" and more "how-to-consider").

Almost ten years ago, Richard Florida's ideas around the "creative class" were prevalent, focusing on the idea that a specific group was driving creativity. Thankfully, Burkus provides a well-reasoned alternative view in The Myths of Creativity, focusing on how "common knowledge" around fostering creativity often can be a hindrance....and that, in many cases, the exception is more likely - and brings greater results - than the rule.

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