Creativity Rules: Get Ideas Out of Your Head and into the World… by Tina Seelig, Stanford university professor and best selling author of “What I wish I knew when I was 20”.
The Big Idea
Why do so many people believe that you can’t teach entrepreneurship? Because there are no clear definitions and a process for going from the ‘seed of an idea’ to ‘executing around it’. Without a robust framework like those we have for the sciences, we can’t develop skills to consistently move through the creative process. In response, this book provides a roadmap to get us from inspiration to implementation.
This roadmap is called the Invention Cycle and involves 4 stages:
Imagination – Envisioning something that does not exist
Creativity – Applying Imagination to address a challenge
Innovation- Applying Creativity to come up with a unique solution
Entrepreneurship – Applying Innovation to scale ideas
It’s best explained through an example. Let’s take Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy.
He started by helping his cousins remotely with their math problems. That’s when he first engaged with teaching and envisioned something new. This is the Imagination stage, where you pause to experience your surroundings, and start noticing opportunities for improvement.
Sal saw that he was having a big impact on kids around the world. This motivated him to try new ideas and he began experimenting with ways to teach online. This is the Creativity stage, where your passion develops and you start testing solutions.
A few years later, Sal knew enough to question conventional teaching methods and came up with completely new ideas! This is the Innovation stage, where you reframe the problem by seeing the challenge from a fresh perspective.
Sal Khan eventually built a successful business by mobilizing others to support his effort. This is the Entrepreneurship stage, where you persist through the hurdles, and inspire others to help your cause.
Successful entrepreneurs realize that they can’t accomplish everything on their own, so they have to inspire others to join their team, invest in their dreams, and use their product. This begins the cycle again, as the entrepreneur inspires others’ imagination!
The Invention Cycle is a virtuous cycle. You start by engaging with your surroundings in order to identify pain points. Then, with just a little motivation, you begin experimenting to come up with creative solutions. You then push further, actively changing your perspective to come up with something truly innovative. And finally, you inspire others to help scale your idea.
When people are exposed to your ideas and venture, they too get inspired and thus the cycle continues, with more imagination, creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship.