Creativity and Ambiguity
“Hindsight is always twenty-twenty. Let’s just do the best we can with the information we have.”
Imagine, for a moment, a blank piece of paper. It is much like that computer screen that appears in front of you every day challenges you to put something on it. It may be a report, a summary, a graph or chart, a poem or a picture—in other words, it could be anything. But you are faced with nothing on the screen—blankness=ambiguity. The opportunity, at the moment, is to see it as just that: an opportunity. And to ask yourself the question, what are the possibilities? So often, ambiguity creates anxiety and fear. But it’s from that release into the unknown that something spectacular can happen.
Often, in this situation, we try to decrease the ambiguity. We think about what else we’ve done before, what we’ve seen others do. What we could borrow from the previous report that we put together, or that a colleague put together, or from a best practice used by others in the industry. We try to narrow down the sense of ambiguity and create predictability or a known solution. Each of us, of course, handles this in different ways.
How comfortable are YOU, when that blank screen appears, with creating something out of nothing? Ask yourself, do I need greater predictability or structure, or can I be open to the ambiguity (the gray) that might create new possibilities?
When we run into people or situations that challenge us or ideas that we don’t immediately grasp, people we “can’t” understand, and other concepts foreign, inconceivable or counterintuitive to our accepted “norms,” we have a choice: 1) accept the ambiguity and see what comes of it, or 2) close down on it—what’s your choice?
How do you strengthen and re-ignite ambiguity in yourself and others? Here are a few ideas: Start:
- Working with the information you have, rather than always needing and asking for more data.
- Holding meetings without an agenda to create new ideas.
- Asking, “How might this work?” rather than, “Here are the problems.”
The next blog–Independence and Creativity!