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Cartoon: Einstein sticking out tongue

Creativity is Very Logical

By Jeffrey Baumgartner

All of my life, people have told me that I am creative -- or crazy -- and I have come to believe them. Certainly, I have an overactive imagination (If you want a demonstration of my imaginativeness, read a sample from my novel); have been an artist and author; and am considered a little eccentric by many people. So, when I tell people I am very logical, their usual reaction is to laugh as if I had said something utterly absurd.

There are two reasons for their laughter. The first is the left-brain/right-brain myth. Although proven wrong again and again, many people believe the highly creative people are right-brain thinkers; that is they are spontaneous, emotionally driven and passionate, while left brain thinkers are logical and analytical -- but not creative, at least according to the myth.

Yet, ask these same people for examples of creative thinkers, they are likely to include people like Leonardo Da Vinci, Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein, all of whom were logical and analytical thinkers.

How about musicians such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, David Bowie, John Lennon and Paul McCartney? Well, their lyrics are often very emotionally driven. But music itself is very mathematical and requires a logical structure. This is why a child playing random keys on a piano makes a terrible sound.

Shakespeare then? Surely he captured the human emotions. Yes, but he also write very well structured plots in his plays. His sonnets and parts of his plays were written in iambic pentameter (a very structured approach to writing in verse in which you use lines of a specific number of syllables and stresses). That requires logical, analytical thinking.

In truth, most creative people use both logic and emotion in their ideas.

Status Quo ≠ Logic

The second reason people laugh when I say I am very logical is because they confuse following the status quo with logical thinking, which is ridiculous and not at all logical! Following a logical train of thought, even if it goes against the status quo, is far more logical. It can also be very creative. After all, most truly creative ideas go against the status quo. Indeed, the creative thinkers, whom I've listed above, all rejected the status quo in favour of their own thinking which, to them, was very logical. Moreover, as a consequence of their creativity, they each changed the status quo.

Creative Thinkers Are Logical Thinkers

In my experience, creative people are almost always very logical thinkers. However, their logic is not based on the status quo always being right; it is not based on doing things exactly as they have always been done;, it is not about conforming to the way everyone else thinks. It is about establishing a logic that makes sense to the creative thinker and her audience (be they fans of her music, followers of her science papers or readers of her novels).

There are two things you can take away from this article. Firstly, if you have a great idea that makes sense to you, but veers from popular thinking, do not be swayed by the status quo. Logic is more often right than popular opinion. But be aware that such creative ideas are seldom popular at first!

Secondly, if you are in charge of innovation in an organisation, or if you are in charge of an organisation, evaluate ideas based on logic rather than conformity to corporate thinking. Organisations have their own status quos into which most thinking tends to fall. A clever idea that makes sense logically and which is aligned with corporate vision, but fails to conform to corporate thinking, should be developed further in spite of resistance.

Because, in spite of what many people think, creativity is often very logical!

 

 

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Jeffrey Baumgartner
Bwiti bvba

Erps-Kwerps (near Leuven & Brussels) Belgium