Creativity happens on the edge of the box

How many times have you been asked to think out of the box? Or maybe you even tell yourself or your employees to do so? I never liked that expression, and I didn’t really know why. Until I read a new definition of creativity by professor Lene Tanggaard (University of Aalborg, Denmark); creativity happens on the edge of the box. 

Outside the box your idea is out of context, but on the edge you explore new connections to already existing fields, technologies, knowledge, markets, and so on. Creativity builds on a tradition within a field and is an expression of continuity, but at the same time it widens and stretches the sides of the box. 

Within the last couple of years I have been in a team developing a concept bringing the arts, health, and employment sectors together to help people with stress, depression or anxiety, gain a better mental health and work ability. The programme offers a group of 10-12 people a mix of cultural activities three times a week in 10 weeks. All activities are guided and non-therapeutic. They are so to speak a place of freedom from illness. Experience showed that during the programme, the participants felt a better wellbeing, discovered new resources and moved closer to job activities. 

To create the programme we developed connections to health sector professionals, and to the employment system, but 80 % of the concept are well known cultural activities such as guided museum visits, shared reading, listening to music, etc. I believe this programme is succesful because it is contextual and benefits from resources from all three professional fields. And that is a great example of creativity happening on the edge of the box. 

So don’t jump out of the box, but go and explore the edges and surroundings for new opportunities and ideas. My image above is from the first edition of Sculpture by the sea (2013) in Aarhus, DK. It’s a small humorous piece by Swedish artist, Streefkerk, called Patchwork. Her initial idea was to draw attention to the relation between man and nature. However it also makes me curious to explore the edges and connections. How can we bond and what will we find in our surroundings?

My book recommendation this week is written by Lene Tanggaard and Christian Stadil, “I bad med Picasso/In the shower with Picasso”. It is written in Danish, so I apologize to those of you who will not be able to read it.

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