Why Creativity Is Critical for Emerging and Disruptive Technologies

March 5, 2018

BY TARA MATAMOROS CARTER

 

The adage that suggests that "necessity is the mother of invention" has been around for eons, and is perhaps more relevant today than ever before. The need for reinvention and innovation continues to grow, and today's technology – which has been called the fourth Industrial Revolution – is seeding the evolution of the future through the same explosions of creativity that generated the first three.

Necessity + Creativity = Innovation

History reveals that, in every case, new inventions are devised to meet an unmet need. From the development of primitive tools to the control of fire, the construction of shelters and beyond, humans have always been identifying deficits in their situation, then devising a way to fill them.

The First Industrial Revolution: Mechanization

During the late 18th century's first Industrial Revolution, machines began replacing human labor. Mechanization "disrupted" virtually every aspect of the social order and raised America's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from $180M in 1790 to over $11B in 1860, driving its economy past that of Great Britain. It also laid the foundation for the second Industrial Revolution – the mastery of mass production.

The Second Industrial Revolution: Mass Production

Late 19th-century industries embraced cotton gin inventor Eli Whitney's innovative concept of interchangeable parts, which resulted in the standardization of manufacturing processes. Henry Ford perfected the process in his assembly line automobile production plants. The resulting web of interconnected industries powered the growth of the GDP per person (per capita), which rose from $2,445 annually in 1870 to $15,030 in 1970. Early and mid-20th-century industries were ripe to embrace the emergence of digital technologies to launch the late 20th century's third Industrial Revolution – the rise of automation.

The Third Industrial Revolution: Automation

Creativity has exploded beyond all traditional horizons since the advent of the first PC. Computing technology has subsumed whole industries, such as telecommunications, manufacturing and international logistics, and most of the world's current economies would collapse without the digital tools they deploy across their industrial bases. Automation of entire industrial sectors has improved safety, reduced costs, and, yes, expanded the American GDP from $543.3B in 1960 to $18,624B in 2016.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Emerging and Disruptive Technologies

And while it continues to expand, the third Industrial Revolution has already set the stage for the fourth Industrial Revolution, emerging and disruptive technologies, which is presently unfolding and offers almost unimaginable opportunities for growth and expansion.

Why Humans Rise to Meet the Need for Innovation

Throughout these evolutions, humans have modified their thinking and adapted to new realities by using their creative imagination to either invent whole new concepts or to innovate improvements to their existing tools. In both cases, when presented with a seemingly insurmountable barrier, the human brain has absorbed the challenge and created a response that both eliminates the barrier and resolves the problem. Scientists continue to explore the human brain to identify how that creativity works, and how to harness it more effectively.

The Science of Creativity

Pondering creativity often means asking why some people seem to be more creative than others. What was it that led Eli Whitney but not his competitors to develop a more productive cotton gin? What triggered Steve Jobs but not IBM to combine a phone, stereo and computer into a single device? Researchers have revealed some interesting facts about human creativity that offer insights about why human creativity continues to evolve:

  • Being creative often a springs from exposures to new things. The neurotransmitter dopamine facilitates the brain's capacity to "engage flexibly with new things," according to Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire, authors of the book "Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind." "The drive for exploration, in its many forms," they write, "may be the single most important personal factor predicting creative achievement."
  • Intuition also plays a role in creativity. People who just "had a hunch" often follow that intuitive thought into a new frontier. Steve Jobs believed "intuition is more powerful than intellect."
  • And "spacing out," day-dreaming or reminiscing about good times also facilitates creativity by releasing the brain from its formalized thought structures and allowing it to meander into novel imaginative vistas.

Looking Toward the New Revolution – Emerging and Disruptive Technologies

If the past is any indication, the human capacity to creatively solve existing problems, as well as the new concerns they generate, will not abate any time soon. Many of today's top technologies are already focused on developing new digital avenues to discover as-yet unknown advantages.

In each of these three sectors, innovative technology is solving problems. However, in most of these cases, those resolutions simply reveal more – and more complex – problems that need solving. That reality suggests that creativity will continue to be the bedrock upon which tomorrow's technology industries will be built. As Steve Jobs put it, “The best way to create value in the 21st century is to connect creativity with technology.”

Tangelo holds innovation and creativity as a core company value. As a multi-faceted diverse company, we are evidence on how an organization of diverse minds with various backgrounds underlies true innovation and value. Our diversity has opened up possibilities that don’t exist inside a homogeneous group. As CNET reported, “Study after study has shown that more diverse teams are more creative and innovative. Companies with diverse leadership are more profitable." We enjoy working with partners who share our commitment and are ready to evolve digitally in a highly creative and innovative manner that drives financial performance and measurable market value.

BY TARA MATAMOROS CARTER
FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION, EMERGING TECHNOLOGY, DISRUPTIVE TECHNOLOGY, INNOVATION, CREATIVITY, DIVERSITY