Adding Creativity to the Technical – DP Mavia

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When I was young I used to wait for holidays so that I could at least get some pocket money from gigs at a Paper-making factory. Most of the time we were deployed as casual laborers to do menial support roles in various departments.  The experience was a sense of adventure because we zealously looked forward to be partakers of the awe of the massive Machines and process of turning tree pulp into paper. Everything was Technical very little at all was Creative.

I have a sister who is two years younger than I; she branched out and became a Production Mechanical Engineer. I have seen her in overalls wheeling around toolboxes of bolts and nuts and spanners and mechanical gadgets. It was either fixing this or breakdown that, the language and expression of her team centered always on the machined and the oiled. Little came through from the designed and the creative. I came to associate though not fully accurate that the Technical lacked the Creative.

The Technical

Techne is a Greek word from which we likely derive our modern day use of Technical. It simply means Craftsmanship. It’s meaning is always associated with the Mind (Nous) Ideating and the Hand (Techne) Making or producing the Ideated. So to be technical requires Thinking and Craft. Unfortunately our socialization has stolen the craft side of Technical from its definition. When we think of the technical most of us like in my previous assumptions always think of factory boots and oil spillages. The Technical will not just foster the hardware part of its execution but also in it’s thinking has space of the beauty of the technical. It is possible that in our curricula that the technical is slowly shying away from design and creativity. There is a rush to deliver the functional, which is efficiency at the expense of the aesthetic. The later is viewed as less important than the former. What comes from the Mind to be expressed or Crafted by the Hand should also anticipate the Beauty with which efficiency will be delivered.

The Creative

Creative people are generally viewed as weird. These right brainers are by prejudice the happy, loose, and the unconventional. Since the Technical is ‘supposed’ to be rigid, stable and predictable, we often view it (technical) as unable to foster the liquid or fluid germs of the creative. Most tools evolved largely as implements of function. A task was identified, an expected result anticipated and a tool was made to deliver the result. The Homo Sapien – thinking man, was a solution giving species but the same Sapien has come of age and with solving of problems there seems to be also the patience of Creative solutions. Whether we owe it to the ‘developed’ brain or the demands of competition of the market, it is becoming an unspoken expectation that function has to be married to beauty and creativity. In the building of solutions therefore we must understand that even the tools are now creatively designed to solve problems creatively and in the same breathe look beautiful. Function beauty and creativity must in essence be a big and vital part of the Technical.

The Mix

Ideo is a company that solves problems from what they consider to be Design Thinking. The duo Kelly brothers of David and Kevin are modern day Craftsmen who believe that the solving of problems by creating the tools that solve those problems must encompass interdisciplinary contribution. They believe the creative is part of anybody with the boldness to embrace and use it. In their book Creative Confidence they believe strongly that everybody is the creative type and that creative thinking is not a rare gift but a natural part of human thinking and behavior. To be human is to fail and succeed. To be human is to be technical and also to be human is to be creative. Both can mix and gel seamlessly. In the environment of the technical and creative, we are in a day where the borrowing from all necessary disciplines is bringing out unique approaches to solution giving.

Both the Technical and the Creative can be easy prey to commerce. It is in the urgent need for a solution to be rendered that the technical is baited a cost too unbearable. Equally commerce has often been overrated that creativity is used as a selling point instead of as a compliment component in the design and thinking of the technical. Apple Computers got its spike and rejuvenation when Steve Jobs combined the technical and the creative.  To a large degree persons using Macs have in some way been seen as Creative(s) and Tech. Of course we should also say that because of that other non Mac tools have come a long way to brush up on the perceived creative side and are delivering a sense of options in the marketplace.

Three Takeaways

  • The Technical and the Creative are both mutually exclusive. They need each other more than ever and both can be fostered not one over the other but one needing the other.
  • Technical Schools should intentionally incorporate other disciplines that could awaken the ‘dead cells’ of the creative in the Craftsmen and women they are training. In fact maybe we should call them just that Craftsmen not Technicians.
  • The newer the problems the more the opportunities to merge the technical and the creative. Our wits end seems to be the beginning of the threshold where creative solutions are bred. The end of thinking is the beginning of different thinking.

As I said when I was young the joy of working in a paper factory as a casual laborer also introduced me to the one sided view of the technical. I do not know if a lot has changed in that factory, but I cannot help but observe that the closest to creative side of paper I see is in the value addition. A big part of that value addition turns out to be the branding side of stationery, packaging, and notebooks which is understandable but that is not to say that the process of making paper is all only a function of Techne and not Creativity.

Last modified: July 18, 2023