Creativity Element 14: Value

Value is an attribute that is given from the outside world when it observes the outcome of the work. As such, it’s not part of the process itself, but it’s included in some of the other criteria:

  • Value within the Goal — the goal is often set at the beginning and represents the initial hypothesis that the individual or the group has about the final value.
  • Value within the Thinking — the various form of thinking that happen during the process are a way for the creative person or team to try to check the value of the work done up until that point, and adjust as needed.

As value is something that is assessed after the work is done from a purely external perspective, while the entirety of the process has been creative for the individual or group doing it, the outcome might not be assessed as such. This distinction is dictated by the same elements of originality and novelty that are part of the definition of the creative process: both of them depends on the context.

As value is something that is assessed after the work is done from a purely external perspective, it doesn’t evaluate the process, but the outcome. As such, the evaluation of the two could end up being different. This distinction is dictated by the same elements of originality and novelty that are part of the definition of the creative process: both of them depends on the context.

Imagine for example these situations:

  1. A successful movie that is well executed, has a beautiful story, photography, acting and so on… but it’s a story already told in a similar movie.
  2. A company launches a new product that people find useful and sells great… but it happens to be a product already existing in a different country.
  3. A painter creates a beautiful landscape and people love it… but it’s so similar to all the ones they painted before.

How do we define the value in these scenarios? They certainly did deliver value to the people doing them, but was it creative? Can we still call them creative once we know they have no originality?

That’s why we differentiate creative process and creative outcome. That’s why value is just one of the parts of creativity. That’s why context is another. A creative process is creative even if does not lead to a creative outcome: it might still deliver a lot of value.

[Creative people] contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an individual, each of them is a multitude.
— Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

We shouldn’t forget however that any creative process has value for the people that go through it. It’s enriching, empowering, and allow people to expand their horizons — also thanks to its frustrating moments.

Creativity allows us to evolve ourselves.
This is a value on its own.


This article is part of the Creativity Fourteen series.
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