Monday, October 30, 2017

Book note: The Grace of Great Things - Creativity and Innovation by Robert Grudin

Looking through your bookshelves is exciting. I have recently experimented with looking at my books and almost randomly picked one to read in. Today I picked Robert Grudin's book "The Grace of Great Things - Creativity and innovation" from 1990.

I remember when I read the book the first time, probably in the mid-90s, I was intrigued and excited to read about creativity in a way that made much more sense to me than most other books on the topic. The typical books on creativity use examples of famous creative people and innovations. They tell stories and, in the best case, try to abstract some useful aspects that regular people could potentially use. In most cases, I find those book uninteresting and not very useful (even though they usually have good stories). Grudin's book is different. It is actually more philosophical but at the same time much more practical and useful.

Grudin sees creativity as something that we, if we do the right things, "deserve". This may sound strange but it makes sense. Creativity cannot be controlled. It can not be "purposed or designed" as Grudin writes. Instead, he writes "But even if we cannot specify or command inspiration, we can, I think, practice deserving it." (p 11). And the 'deserving' is not a talent or inborn virtue, it is something that can be cultivated and made into habits.

Anyone, who really want to understand creativity and innovation should read this book. It was great to find it again on my bookshelf and to be reminded of its ideas.