The other day I read an article over on The Atlantic. They were discussing whether Germany can ‘fix’ Facebook – and by ‘fixing’ they meant: banning hate speech, misinformation, and abusive behaviour. All these are serious issues that need to be addressed, but what I found even more interesting is how this article strikingly illustrated how rationally many Germans approach social media channels such as Facebook - because, especially as communication creatives, it’s easy to see social media as a playground for creativity, when in fact there’s far more to it than just funny GIFs and memes.
You have to understand
before you can break
We tend to be the most innovative and inventive when we think outside of the box. The Oxford English Dictionary defines such ‘divergent thinking’ as ‘using a variety of premises, especially unfamiliar premises, as bases for inference, and avoiding common limiting assumptions in making deductions’. Fresh, creative, new ideas are not only crucial in our business but also push our society, our world forward. We cannot afford to not be creative.
But it’s not only about having ideas, it’s also about how to execute them. All too often creative ideas come to a dead end when focus shifts to execution – Ben Weinlick calls this ‘The Tyranny of Making Ideas Happen’. He discusses how creativity is often embraced only so long as it delivers a tangible result; which limits creative thinking before it’s even started. We’re stuck to such convergent thinking because, first of all, that’s what we’re usually taught in school and, generally, that’s the way of thinking we’re used to in our everyday life – homo oeconomicus, rational choice, yada yada yada.
I’m convinced: the key is to combine both – divergent and convergent thinking.
Indeed, we want to communicate and act in the most creative way possible, but creativity can only thrive in a well maintained processual and organisational culture. You may find that boring, but I think having a strategy, a concept, a working process in place is life-essential. It allows you to shift away from wasting time and effort on maintaining and frees up capacity for producing and creating. (I could cite Karl Marx here and discuss in length his concept of reproductive and productive work, but I won’t. Promise.)
A thought-out process not only eases the execution of ideas, but actually facilitates creative thinking in the first place – it establishes the order that makes more time for inspiration, imagination, and experimentation. That’s why divergent and convergent thinking must work hand in hand - and why using Facebook can neither be a purely creative nor singularly rational act. It’s both.
You have to understand the process before you can break the process!
Ben Weinlick, Think Jar Collective: The Tyranny of Making Things Happen
Linda Kinstler, The Atlantic: Can Germany Fix Facebook?