Steve Jobs Comes to Lunch with Creativity
Over lunch the other day, I was talking to a friend of mine. He's working on his PhD in the area of user experiences, mostly technology.
His opinion of what Steve Jobs did best? Take stuff that already existed and find ways to put it together. This fascinated me; after all, we think of Jobs as the one who "created" some of these technologies. My friend said it wasn't like that. Instead, Jobs often saw possibilities in disparate pre-existing technologies and put them together to create beautiful user experiences.
This reminds me of today's chapter in Mindfulness, which focuses on creativity. Creativity doesn't necessarily create out-of-nothing. It simply does a quarter-turn and says, "Ah, look at it this way."
If this sounds easy, it may not be. My friend laughed as he put his iPhone on the table and said, "Isn't it beautiful? And even when other companies had it sitting in front of them, they still couldn't create a decent knock-off. That's genius, don't you think?"
I often wonder how well we are cultivating this kind of genius in the way we teach our young people, giving them, as Langer notes, too few choices in how they interact with materials and information; I know that my own daughter is chaffing against her distance-learning program this year, because it prescribes more than she's used to (we're working on that... maybe later this week I'll share her next assignment, which she took *more* than a quarter-turn with).
How much are we willing to do the quarter turns? How much does creativity matter to us? It might mean a "bad grade" or some commercial failures along the way. Will we risk it?