Monday, January 13, 2014

Creative Intelligence: a book review

Creative Intelligence: Harnessing the Power to Create, Connect, and Inspire
Bruce Nussbaum. 2013. New York, NY: Harper Business. [ISBN 978-0-06-208842-0. 352 pages, including index. US$28.99.]

In a constantly changing world of science, business and technology, there is much speculation over what drives innovation, intelligence, and entrepreneurship. Is there a way to assess someone’s ability to create a successful business, as Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg did? Nussbaum argues throughout his book Creative Intelligence: Harnessing the Power to Create, Connect, and Inspire, that although the abilities of Jobs and Zuckerberg are hard to measure objectively, there are concrete skills associated with their success. These skills are not gems of a genius; we can practice them in our daily life. Nussbaum argues that they are the heart of entrepreneurialism and that creativity is the backbone of a new emerging theory of Indie Capitalism—an economy based on the idea that creativity drives capitalism. Overall, he argues that although we think geniuses are born with innate abilities, many of their eureka moments were the result of years of hard work.
Nussbaum, himself an expert in design and innovation, had a career quest to tie together a common trait of successful companies like Facebook and Apple. Was it the number of patents awarded or the amount of money spent on research that resulted in such powerful and transformative companies? He determined “creativity” to be their common component.
He identified five competencies of creativity:
·         Knowledge Mining: Steve Jobs’ integration of calligraphy into the Apple computer is based on his having audited a class on calligraphy for fun during college.
·         Framing: Crowdfunding on the Internet changed fiscal sponsorship from a practice of the wealthy to a community endeavor open to anyone with Internet access. Many small donations now compete with the National Endowment for the Arts in the amount of money raised.
·         Playing:  SimCity (video game) teaches people city planning by turning it into a game.
·         Making: Web sites for marketing products online have allowed “homegrown” to become mainstream and accessible to everybody.
·         Pivoting: The creation of Instagram illustrates the most basic pivoting. Burbn was a location check-in app that was not successful. The photo app within the program, however, received a lot of traffic. The founders ditched their original business and eventually sold Instagram to Facebook for billions.
            All are fluid skills that we can practice, hone, and perfect. Many of Nussbaum’s arguments advocate a liberal arts education where specialization dos not occur. He argues that it is the person’s passion for a topic that unleashes creativity. Although idealistic, Nussbaum’s arguments are unrealistic. A liberal arts education, while considered a well-rounded survey of subjects, cannot be tied to an increase in salary or any kind of promotability within the business world.
            Overall, Nussbaum believes we are moving toward a more creative economy. Indie Capitalism is the new wave. In August 2012, Apple became the most valuable company in history based on its capability to create and rewrite the ecology of computers. Nussbaum argues that the skills of creativity will birth more Apples in society and drive our economy to new heights of excellence.