For over a century, creativity has unfolded as a valuable field of knowledge. Emerging from disciplines like psychology, management and education, the field of creativity is making strides in others including the arts and engineering. Research and education in this field, led by leading creativity thinkers like Barron and Montuori, have helped it establish creativity as an important discipline in its own right. However, this progress has come with a price. In a domain like management, the institutionalization of creativity in learning, research and practice has left creativity subordinated to concerns with standardization, employability and economic growth. Values like personal fulfillment, uncertainty, improvement and connectedness which could characterize systemic views on creativity need to be rescued to promote more and inclusive dialogue between creativity stakeholders.
Originally from Colombia, Jóse-Rodriguo Córdoba-Pachón brings his background as a software developer, entrepreneur, academic—and father of young twins—to Managing Creativity: A Systems Thinking Journey (Routledge, 2018). He shares personal vulnerabilities and setbacks as rich context for his own systems thinking journey as a creator and invites the reader to explore deeply what creativity means for him/her/them. While Córdoba-Pachón possesses a deep understanding and appreciation for the primary creativity thinking lineages, it is ‘creativity as socio-cultural phenomenon’ that most intrigues him and influences his work (joining Montuori and others in de-bunking the ‘lone genius’ myth). He offers that there is an opportunity to apply additional systems ideas to creativity, building on those who have previously researched creativity in the systems thinking context such as psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
Córdoba-Pachón aims to recover the importance of creativity as a systemic phenomenon and explores how applied systems thinking (AST) can further support creativity. This demonstrates how creative efforts could be directed to improve quality of life for individuals as well as their environments. Managing Creativity uses the systems idea as an ‘enquiring device’ to bring together different actors to promote reflection and action about creative possibilities. Córdoba-Pachón offers conceptualizations, applications and reflections of systems ideas to help readers make sense of the field of creativity in academia and elsewhere.
Insights from Managing Creativity act as a vital toolkit for management researchers, students grappling with an uncertain future, practitioners and all creators to define and pursue creative ideas and thrive through their journeys to benefit themselves, other people and organizations. Córdoba-Pachón suggests that “promoting open (and random) as well as responsible engagement in creativity could help us shift... and engage differently and systemically with things ‘out there’— the risks and uncertainty, ‘shit’ and serendipity”.
Kevin Lindsay is a 25+ year Silicon Valley software product strategist and marketer, and graduate student at the California Institute of Integral Studies.