The Malta Independent 4 August 2021, Wednesday

Creativity and innovation

Justyne Caruana Sunday, 13 June 2021, 09:22 Last update: about 3 months ago

In tribute to Prof. Edward de Bono

“There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.” — Edward de Bono

 

The importance of creativity in today's world cannot be stressed enough. Global competition, robotics, artificial intelligence, and task automation are changing the way we do business and the way we live. This means that now, more than ever before, we need to be prepared for the challenges of a changing society and workforce. We can only do this by being continuously creative and innovative. 

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Distinct but complementary

The difference between creativity and innovation is important. Creativity is our ability to solve problems and challenges with novel solutions or ideas perceived by the mind but not yet a reality. Innovation, on the other hand, is the implementation or creation of something new that started as an idea and that has realized value to others. Innovation, therefore, produces a tool or physical benefit or helps to solve a problem or create an advantage.  They are distinct but complementary and intensely inter-related.

There is no doubt that creative thinking is a critical life skill needed for success in the 21st Century. Researchers believe that a creative life, apart from helping us adapt to the ever-changing correlation between creativity, meaning and intrinsic motivation.

Robert Sternberg of Tufts University in fact states that, “Successful individuals are those who have creative skills, to produce a vision for how they intend to make the world a better place for everyone; analytical intellectual skills, to assess their vision and those of others; practical intellectual skills, to carry out their vision and persuade people of its value; and wisdom, to ensure that their vision is not a selfish one.”

 

Challenges and solutions

The challenges and hurdles created by Covid-19 and the solutions developed to overcome them are solid proof of the importance of creativity and innovation in times of need.  Our successes as a country during this pandemic did not come about by mere chance or good fortune. The altruistic collaboration of people from all walks of life and of different capabilities to combat the negative impact of this invisible enemy came about through creative thinking, innovation and mutual trust and belief of our collective capabilities as a nation.

Most importantly it has taught us that the greatest achievements of a people are those that come about when creativity and innovation are shared with one goal – that of the common good. The Labour Government has led the country through thick and thin without any pre-set manual.  The positive and creative approach we have shown has been fundamental all along, instilling hope and courage across Malta and Gozo. Besides its leading role of responsibilty, Labour has been instrumental to attract the cooperation of all sectors, save for the few who have now anchored themselves in a status quo of doom and gloom for childish partisan gains, which - notwithstanding  - have never been achieved.

 

Professor Edward de Bono

The passing of Professor Edward de Bono last Thursday is a great loss for our country and to humanity. A world leading authority in the field of creative and conceptual thinking, his theories, concepts, and tools are used worldwide in organizational innovation, problem solving and strategic leadership.

His theory that thinking is a skill and the training courses he developed on the subject are used widely by universities, schools, academies and anyone who wishes to become more creative and innovative.  The Lateral Thinking method of generating new concepts and solutions focus on breaking away from traditional patterns to approaching problems to achieve more effective results. The Six Thinking Hats technique utilises six modes of thinking to achieve more effective problem-solving and decision-making of thinking.

In his own words, 'Good thinking is not a matter of intelligence, nor a gift - it is a skill that can be practiced and developed like any other. Whether you are a student, business executive or homemaker, the quality of the way you think is your greatest asset.'

 

A treasured legacy

Professor de Bono will be forever remembered as one of greatest geniuses of his generation. His legacy is not merely his brilliant mind. It is his life-long dedication to helping people worldwide reach their goals through teaching methods that could be applied in real life circumstances with good results. His contribution to humanity in the field of creativity and innovation proves that we are all achievers, irrespective of our origin, background and aptitudes. Our mindset is the key - Edward de Bono once said, 'if you give a child a problem, he may come up with a highly original solution, because he doesn’t have the established route to it.'

 

I believe that he is right. Our children need to be taught that their intelligence, creative abilities and character are things that they can improve in meaningful ways.  As a first-class achiever and scholar, Prof de Bono sets the best example to our students who commit themselves to learning and make a name for themselves and for our country. They can always learn and get better at what they do. Professor de Bono knew this and left us the tools and knowledge to help future generations thrive, survive, and adapt. The sky is the limit!

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