How do you define creativity?

Biomimicry – from the Greek words bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate is an ancient concept recently returning to scientific thought that examines nature, its models, systems, processes and elements – and emulates or takes inspiration from them to solve human problems. The concept crossed my mind again earlier today while I was flipping through the pages of the new issue of the Fast Company magazine (#147 July/August 2010). Somewhere in it, I came across a short paragraph that talked about Apple’s retail strategy:

“When Apple  devised its retail strategy a decade ago, the company had a single overriding goal: to launch stores that were unlike anything that customers associated with the computer industry. Apple hired Ron Johnson from Target and George Blankenship from Gap. (Last year, Blankenship decamped to Microsoft’s new retail-store effort.) Johnson began by asking shoppers to name their best customer-service experience, and he found that most of them agreed on a single setting, the hotel concierge desk. Their effort to re-create the same friendliness you’d find in a Four Seasons Hotel lobby led to the Genius Bar, which Johnson calls the ‘heart and soul’ of every Apple Store.”

Apple’s Genius Bar is no doubt the heart and soul of every Apple Retail Store. There are many great stories about it out there. For example, I remember reading a short article in The Washington Times about the Genius Bar in which the writer went as far as to suggest that it may be Apple’s Greatest Bit of Genius. But that is not why I decided to share this short post with you. I did it for two resons:

1. To remind you that good ideas do not have to be new ideas.

2. To share with you my up-to-date favourite definition of creativity: Creativity is the best use of the obvious.* (The people at Apple seem to think highly of it too, eh?)

*I unfortunately no longer remember the name of the speaker who first shared this insightful nugget with me. But what I do remember is this: I heard it while attending a professional continuing education seminar approximately 10 years ago or so in London, Ontario.