What is the most important quality of an entrepreneur? Many would argue it is passion — an overwhelming love of what one is doing, and the drive and determination to see one’s dreams realized. Others might say leadership — the ability to bring a team of people together and guide them toward a common goal. But some believe that creativity — a boundless imagination that is constantly innovating and seeing the world through a different lens — is the ultimate key to business success.
Phoebe Cade Miles, daughter of Gatorade inventor Dr. James Robert Cade, is one such believer in the power of creativity. She watched her father work tirelessly to invent a product that, five decades after its introduction, is still used by athletes around the world. Today, Cade Miles is working on her own entrepreneurial project, The Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention. The museum, scheduled to open in 2015 to commemorate Gatorade’s 50th anniversary, explores the history of the famous athletic drink, and highlights the crucial role creativity played in its invention.
“The invention of Gatorade is a perfect example of a creative collision,” Cade Miles told BusinessNewsDaily. “It took experts from two seemingly unrelated subjects, nephrology and football, to bring about the completely new category of sports beverages.” SEE ALSO: Creativity Requires Confidence — How to Get More of Both
Cade Miles shared her thoughts on why creativity is such a powerful entrepreneurial force, and how it can best be harnessed in a startup setting.
Creativity is a bigger predictor of success in life than intelligence. Most educational institutions and businesses still value intelligence over creativity. This may be because intelligence is easier to quantify, easier to manage, and easier to identify, whereas creativity can be difficult to spot because the most creative people often struggle in school. This makes it hard to discern the difference between a potential troublemaker and a truly creative person, who could bring great benefits to a company if their creativity were properly harnessed. A business should consider hiring for creativity in addition to intelligence.
Creativity actually needs structure to flourish, but not so much structure that it is crushed. Creative problem-solving works best when harnessed with highly focused and disciplined thought. The trick is being rigorous, but not rigid, in your work. Scientists who study creativity say it is essential to combine two modes of thinking, convergent and divergent, to have creative breakthroughs. Convergent thinking is highly analytical and focuses on arriving at one correct solution given the available data, whereas divergent thinking generates creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions. A startup should build in ample time for divergent pathways of thinking to keep the proper creative tension with convergent modes of thinking.
Creativity can be learned. Everyone has creative potential and the creative thought process can be improved and strengthened. Learning new hobbies and skills is a great way to lay down new neural networks, but learning a new art form is one of the best methods to train the mind in developing creative problem-solving skills. The arts require the use of divergent thinking, which is the half of creative thought that is typically missing in corporate America.
Creativity happens best at the intersection of disciplines. Most breakthrough discoveries occur when two or more disciplines collide. Most people are afraid of collisions, but creative collisions are to be encouraged, because they allow you to view a problem from a new perspective. Creative problem-solvers are often able to connect two distinct areas of expertise and can translate potential solutions from one field to an unrelated area.