by Jim Riela

What kind of creative are you?

The traditional psychological definition of creativity includes two parts: originality and functionality.

“You can’t be creative unless you come up with something that hasn’t been done before,” says psychologist Dean Keith Simonton, PhD, of the University of California, Davis. “The idea also has to work, or be adaptive or be functional in some way; it has to meet some criteria of usefulness.”

The U. S. Patent and Trademark Office, which approves intellectual property rights for products and ideas born of inventors’ creativity, maintains there’s a third criterion. As Simonton says, “The creative idea should not be an obvious extension of something that already exists.”

But the study of creativity by psychologists has taken its definition even further. In expanding and questioning its meaning, they made a distinction between “Little C” and “Big C” creativity.

Little C vs. Big C

  • Little-C creativity is often used as an indicator of mental health. It includes everyday problem-solving and the ability to adapt to change.
  • Big-C creativity, on the other hand, is far more rare. It occurs when a person solves a problem or creates an object that has a major impact on how other people think, feel, and live their lives.

Big C creativity can involve leading a team thoughtfully through workplace challenges, bringing out the best in each of them and yourself in the process.  Or it can be more personal, such as patiently guiding your children with an open mind as they develop and become their unique selves. It is possible to exercise your mind to expand it, nourishing your creative juices for Big-C challenges.

For those of us blessed to work in the event production field, we are drawn towards opportunities to expand our thinking and move beyond the norm while collaborating with others in the Big C space. We take pride in creating an experience that, when done well, impacts how people think, feel, and what they do in a big way.