Is Process the Enemy of Creativity?

There are many aspects of theories and processes that intertwine with creativity. These include:

1/ Method (design thinking)
2/ Magic (individual discovery)
3/ Memory (innate structure)
4/ System (mapping)
5/ Inspiration (environment)

Each of these theories emphasizes a subconscious mind, improvisation, and the role that chance plays in the results. But it’s always safer to be prepared and have a plan for the best results.

There are some people who use their creativity in everything they do repeatedly. Meanwhile, others are creative one time only in their lives, if at all; they wear it, but don’t bleed it. The best way to improve creativity for those who don’t possess the trait is to have a process that allows repeated experimentation and, as a result, maximizes those serendipitous moments when it all comes together. Process allows a systematic way to explore options, including the non-obvious, and improve chance – there is always an element of chance in creativity, so it should factor into part of the process.

However, not everyone is a fan of process. Many even hate it. But to be successful, every company needs processes implemented, whether implicitly or explicitly. If the company is a machine, then the process is its blueprint. Some people generally call it “how things are done around here.” Without established processes in place, even the very best companies will have trouble operating effectively, staying organized, and remaining productive. Process streamlines workflow so the organization can be managed. When well-defined processes are in place, everyone feels better and more confident in their work, companies have the privilege of scalability, and KPIs can then be defined to support the underlying organization structure.

Process is a key part of strategic management. First, it provides an open view of what is going on within the black box of an organization, its business units, and all interlinked activities. Second, periodic review of the processes provides new insights into organizational behavior and barriers to higher performance. This requires creativity and imagination to change or evolve from the current state.

Whether to incite or to execute creativity, process plays a larger role than we would like to admit. It can even be argued that the most uncreative part – the process – is the one that can best improve creativity.

Featured in the MISC 2015 : The Creative Process Issue.

Idris Mootee is the publisher and editor-in-chief of MISC and CEO of Idea Couture. He spends his time between London, New York, San Francisco, and Shanghai.

the author

Idris Mootee

Idris Mootee is the publisher and editor-in-chief of MISC and CEO of Idea Couture. See his full bio here.