Creativity Keynote at Rice University

Yesterday, I gave a big public lecture at Rice University in Houston, one of the top universities in the U.S. Like many universities, Rice is trying to foster a more creative and entrepreneurial culture across campus. The centerpiece of the effort is a wonderful new building, the Moody Center for the Arts, that’s just opened right in the middle of campus. It’s my kind of architecture–I like the boxy contemporary style.

I was honored to learn that a thousand people signed up for my talk! So they moved it from the small space at the Moody Center (my talk is one of the center’s inaugural events) to the much bigger Stude concert hall, which seats a thousand. I loved performing in the Stude; the acoustics were incredible. I probably could have done my 45 minute talk without a microphone (but I’m glad I had one!)

My core message was that creativity isn’t about having a brilliant insight. Instead, creativity is about having small, everyday insights–ideas that all of us can have, if we engage in research-based creative habits. And it’s important that we realize that creativity follows an unpredictable, wandering path. You can’t know where you’ll end up, and this can make people nervous. You have to learn to trust in the process, and let the creativity emerge from the work.

4 thoughts on “Creativity Keynote at Rice University

  1. I am a painter and I also teach creative thinking at the University of Hawai’i (KCC) and I have always been interested, in my own work and as an educator, in this complex juxtaposition of research-based practice and the unpredictable nature of creativity. On the one hand you have something that is ‘demonstrably proven’, or at least delimited to some degree, yet on the other you have an emergent process that is unpredictable and confounds limits. Can you share a little more on this? Thanks.

  2. I agree, that’s the key question. Creativity is always an unpredictable and emergent process. And yet, it needs to be constrained and guided in some way to lead to successful outcomes. Getting the balance right is complicated. The balance changes in different fields, at different levels of expertise, and for different kinds of questions. Part of creativity is being able to sense when you need more constraints, and when you need less.

      1. I’m glad you’re interested! There will be some post-production on the video (two cameras, sound/lighting etc.) and that can take a couple of weeks. I don’t think the entire lecture will be online, but I’ll definitely put up a representative excerpt. Watch this blog for updates!

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