David Kelley, who co-wrote ‘Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All‘ with his brother Tom, had worked with, and was a close friend of the late Steve Jobs. In the book, we learn that, “Steve had a deep sense of creative confidence. He believed — he knew — that you can achieve audacious goals if you have the courage and perseverance to pursue them.”
The intention of the book is to dispel the notion that only some of us were born with creativity in our genes, when in fact, we all have the ability to be creative, despite what we might have been told and taught over the years. We can all achieve “audacious goals,” just like Steve did, or at least to believe in our own ability to change our world in some way.
It’s explained that we came into the world with creativity and fearlessness, but as time passes we encounter others who shake our confidence by saying we’re not creative, including schools where we learn to think too constructively — that there can only be one right answer. So, we unlearn creativity and lose our confidence, fearful of what others might think.
Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk, “Do Schools Kill Creativity” is mentioned as a must-see and as an example of how traditional education has, well, killed creativity.
The book inspires us with examples of people who were overly analytical: accountants, scientists and lawyers who didn’t have a bias toward action. Even companies that suffered from inertia; bogged down with data and decisions by committee. But by unleashing their creativity, they have learned to conjure up and consider a myriad of solutions to problems, no matter how absurd, and to learn by doing.
There’s also an emphasis on empathy and human-centered design. How important it is to observe customers and end-users when designing solutions and products instead of burying heads into spreadsheets and dreaming up things we think will work.
The authors share the experiences of many students who’ve attended their d.school at Stanford University. It’s a fast-paced, team-based learning environment where students, young and old, and from diverse backgrounds, are asked to find human-centered solutions. A popular project is figuring out how the experience of a daily train commute from San Francisco to Palo Alto can be improved for passengers, from waiting on the platform to disembarking at their destination.
The book not only focuses on inspiring individuals to build their creative confidence, but also delves into the importance of working in teams and provides case studies where entire companies have embraced creative confidence to improve the experience of workers and customers.
Written in a friendly conversational tone and filled with real human stories and experiences, ‘Creative Confidence’ was a pleasure to read, and having finished it, I’ve realized I’ve highlighted so many passages to read again.