A few months ago I studied a Coursera course all about creativity. I’ll admit I wasn’t overly impressed with the course as a whole. I considered giving it up once or twice, but being stubborn I decided that I was far enough through that I may as well keep going.
The second assignment for the course involved discerning and discussing our creativity type. There are two main types of creativity – at least according to the course – and these are innovation and adaptation.
The Oxford English Dictionary states that innovation is “the introduction of a new thing”; it is about newness and originality. Innovation is, at least in my experience, what people think of when they talk about creativity.
Adaptation on the other hand… There are some who would probably argue that adaptation is not true creativity. According to the OED adaptation is “modification to fit a new use [or] a new condition”. Adaptive creativity is about taking something old and making it new, improving upon what is available and making it better.
Neither form of creativity is more important than the other. Neither is more “correct” or creative than the other. They both have their values and their places. Each has a time when it is more useful and more appropriate. Creative projects that have both an adaptive thinker and an innovative thinker will most likely have a higher chance of success than those that concentrate on only one form of creativity.
wannabe writer I presumed that I must be an innovative thinker, so I was somewhat surprised to find that my creative style came back as being “mildly adaptive”. I readily admit to being disappointed, at least at first, but I gradually came around to the idea. And the more I thought about it the more it makes sense.
Take cooking, for example. I love cooking. I love making good food. I have great fun adapting recipes and fitting them to our needs and preferences. Given the choice I would much rather adapt a pre-existing recipe than develop one from scratch. That’s not to say I can’t innovate a recipe – I can, and I have done – but I prefer to adapt them.
I can immediately think of three recipes that I’ve adapted – a pasta dish based on an edamame hummus recipe (delicious!), orange shortbread, and our version of General Tso’s chicken (which I can’t believe I’ve not blogged yet… That must be rectified!) On the other hand I can only think of one (successful) recipe that I created from scratch, which was a lentil recipe.
The way I see it, adaptation is about finding a thread, and weaving that thread into a tapestry. Innovation is what makes the thread. And whilst making a thread is great, on its own it isn’t much to speak about. It’s when it has been woven that it because something truly wonderful. Which is why innovation and adaptation are both equally necessary, equally important, and equally pride-worthy.
What is your creative style? Do you think innovation or adaptation is more important, and why?