Sunday, September 23, 2007

Creativity: Afterthoughts on "Why Blog?"

Those of you who have read my previous post “Why Blog?” know that I withheld publishing an idea on my blog yesterday. I did that because I came up with a related idea which I thought was too good to be just published in a blog. I thought it deserved to be developed into a research paper. My previous post gives details of what went on in my mind when I decided not to release my idea on my blog. On second thoughts however, I realize my decision to hold back was motivated by a fear that someone else will exploit the idea which I initially came up with. Fear, I believe, though has its uses in actuating fight or flight responses during times of danger, is mostly an unproductive emotion, especially in creative pursuits. The fear of others taking up your idea, I believe, can actually stifle your creativity. When a person tightly holds on to just one idea, he/she does not get an avenue to expand ones horizon of creativity. More importantly, on deeper introspection one will often find that the fears were unfounded to begin with. Sure, ideas are an important source of competitive advantage for authors and researchers, but no two people actually see the same information in exactly the same way. The perceptions will be different because the personal history of each person is different. When two people read an article, there may be many similar thoughts generated in their minds, however, the real creative ones will always be unique to each person. So, just because I came up with a creative idea while writing an article for my blog, does not mean that somebody else will come up with the exact same idea while reading it. The reader may come up with another creative idea but it is very unlikely that we will both come up with the same. Even given the remote possibility that we do see the same spark, the treatment that the idea gets while developing it into an article, will be very different between us. This difference will again be because of our unique strengths and personal histories. The end result will almost always be completely different products.

With the above realization, I have now decided to release the original idea I had for my blog. However, it will have to wait for a few days because I have already finished up my time quota I had for blogging this weekend. As for my current post, I hope I succeeded in communicating the point that creativity flourishes only when you have an abundance mentality. Scarcity mentality stagnates if not kills creativity. I mentioned in my previous blog that some authors like Paul Krugman and the Freakonomics authors churn out interesting thoughts in majority of their writings, irrespective of whether it is their paper in a research journal, book, or blog. I am now pretty sure they succeed in being so productive because of their abundance mentality. The lesson is: don't ration ideas if you want to flourish in the business of ideas. Sustained competitive advantage comes not from rationing ideas but by generously distributing them and producing more. You can produce more only when you clear up your inventory of existing ideas.

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