Think creatively and outside the box

Everybody knows who the Wright Brothers are, right? Of course, everybody has at least heard of the inventors of the first working airplane. They were two simple bicycle shop owners with an idea and the means to make it happen, and now they are enshrined forever in history as “The Inventors of the Airplane.

Wilbur and Orville Wright started with a printing press in 1889, both of them being confident entrepreneurs. That press ran and evolved over the years until they got rid of that and opened up their bicycle shop in 1892, and after that time they became more and more interested in flight. They wondered why nobody had come to think of the proper way to make a flying machine before. Through study and observation of birds, they determined that it was all in the subtle movements of the wings, what ailerons do today. So they set out to make a machine that would make those movements. They worked on their plans for years, crafting a new prototype glider between each attempt, but finally they were able to do it. They made the world’s first airplane. Now, while that’s a pretty impressive feat, but here’s an interesting thought — if the Wright Brothers had built their airplane today, then nobody would know them.

That is not to say, of course, that they weren’t smart men. They were brilliant in their time and would be in this time, no doubt. Not only were they brilliant, they were also hard working. Three times over three years they built gliders, persisting in the pursuit of that one goal with an admirable determination.

There are two important aspects to any enterprise — coming up with the idea and making that idea happen. In everything we create there is the generation of an idea and the work put in to make that thing a realization. This is true of the Wrights over a century ago and of us today. The difference being — and this is a key difference — is that today we have thousands and thousands of different kinds of machines to help us work on our ideas.

When we use a machine to make our ideas come to life it cuts down on the creation time by a wide margin, leaving us humans with more free time and nothing to do. Workers that were once skilled labour, and well paid for it, are replaced by computers which are far more efficient than they are. So with all this free time comes more potential for the creative side of the enterprise. There is more potential for ideas, and so more ideas are generated.

To get back to those two parts mentioned above — coming up with the idea and making it happen — this means that it’s less necessary for a person to need skilled training. And why should they? It is far more efficient to let a machine do your work for you. Jobs and businesses are easy to do now.

If that is the case, then we have to wonder how we are supposed to stay competitive when it comes to work. What is it that we base our merit on when our skills are matched by machines? How do we get our business to succeed when everybody can work just as fast? The answer lies in creativity. The ability to come up with ideas is more important than ever in today’s society.

The reason the Wright Brothers wouldn’t be famous today is because today the way to succeed is to be more creative, rather than work harder and faster. At the time of the Wrights’ first flight there had already been countless attempts at flying for centuries before. We have had the idea of flight in our heads for a long, long time — long before the efficiency of computers and mechanical tools. As long as mankind has seen birds soaring majestically across the sky we became jealous and wanted to try it ourselves. However, if people had started dreaming of flight nowadays, then the Wright Brothers would give up their place in the history books for whoever it was who was quick enough to think of the idea first. Most likely somebody like Leonardo da Vinci, or maybe Icarus.

This focus on creativity has led to a high demand for it when it comes to realizing a business enterprise. The skill set required for success is no longer words per minute or bookkeeping, but the ability to think creatively and outside the box. We live in a period marked with the underlying idea of “hypercreativity.” What matters more and more is a person’s ability to come up with ideas, not their ability to put that idea into action.

Hypercreativity means that the world is increasing the rate at which we come up with ideas. Your creative skills are your most important asset in this day and age, and the only way you can keep up is by coming up with enough ideas to stay competitive. The minute a company fails is the minute that the people in charge stop coming up with new ideas. This odd new blend of industry and creativity puts the creative types first, and the market has shifted to accommodate them as best as it can.

If there is demand for it, then the creative path is the best choice. It builds on itself, too. When you adopt a more creative outlook it becomes easier and easier to come up with ideas, leading to even more ideas being thought of. So maybe the Wrights would not have made the first airplane today, but maybe they would have had the time and inclination to come up with the next step in the evolution of flight technology, or perhaps space travel! We need to leave the work to the machines and concentrate on the creative aspects of our endeavours.

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