5 views on creativity

I recently discovered Jonah Lehrer. His writing is sharp and perceptive:

...Why are corporations so fleeting?...Instead of imitating the freewheeling city, these businesses minimize the very interactions that lead to new ideas. They erect walls and establish hierarchies. They keep people from relaxing and having insights. They stifle conversations, discourage dissent, and suffocate social networks. Rather than maximizing employee creativity they become obsessed with minor efficiencies.
— Jonah Lehrer, Imagine: How Creativity Works
The fatal misconception behind brainstorming is that there is a particular script we should all follow in group interactions.... [W]hen the composition of the group is right—enough people with different perspectives running into one another in unpredictable ways—the group dynamic will take care of itself. All these errant discussions add up. In fact, they may even be the most essential part of the creative process. Although such conversations will occasionally be unpleasant—not everyone is always in the mood for small talk or criticism—that doesn’t mean that they can be avoided. The most creative spaces are those which hurl us together. It is the human friction that makes the sparks.
— Jonah Lehrer
...new ideas are merely several old thoughts that occur at the exact same time.
— Jonah Lehrer, How We Decide
Even when alternative views are clearly wrong, being exposed to them still expands our creative potential. In a way, the power of dissent is the power of surprise. After hearing someone shout out an errant answer, we work to understand it, which causes us to reassess our initial assumptions and try out new perspectives. “Authentic dissent can be difficult, but it’s always invigorating,” [Charlan] Nemeth [a professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley] says. “It wakes us right up.
— Jonah Lehrer
There is something scary about letting ourselves go. It means that we will screw up, that we will relinquish the possibility of perfection. It means that we will say things we didn’t mean to say and express feelings we can’t explain. It means that we will be onstage and not have complete control, that we won’t know what we’re going to play until we begin, until the bow is drawn across the strings. While this spontaneous method might be frightening, it’s also an extremely valuable source of creativity…the lesson about letting go is that we contain our own creativity. We are so worried about playing the wrong note or saying the wrong thing that we end up with nothing at all.
— Jonah Lehrer