innovation & creativity | April 17, 2016

Beyond 10,000 Hours: Scott Barry Kaufman Dissects Creativity for Scientific American

We’ve all heard the adage: 10,000 hours of practice can make you an expert in any subject. But is this really true across the board? In creative fields, maybe not—or so says innovation speaker Scott Barry Kaufman in Scientific American. Kaufman argues that deliberate practice wins out in “highly developed fields,” where conventions are well-established and the formula for success has already been written—think sports, chess, and instrumental performance. But creative fields and products, like novels or art exhibits, praised for being original, meaningful, and surprising, don’t fit this mold. And in this article, Kaufman illustrates exactly why. Summarizing 12 key findings, Kaufman shows how creative achievement comes down to much more than just punching the clock.

“Creative products, by definition, are the antithesis of expertise,” says Kaufman; too much expertise actually impedes creativity. The relationship between knowledge and creativity can be modeled by an inverted U-shaped curve—to a certain point, knowledge is power. Too much, however, and mental flexibility begins to suffer. And because creators don’t often know whether their idea will be well received, there’s a certain blindness or uncertainty to their approach—trial and error, rather than the consistent, repeated measures of those striving for expertise. Throw in the confounding factors of talent, personality, genes, and environmental experiences, and creative success becomes even harder to pin down.

Scott Barry Kaufman is one of the most exciting cognitive psychologists at work today—and you can see why. As Scientific Director of The Imagination Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, he constantly takes to task our assumptions about creativity, personality, and intelligence. And in his newest book, Wired to Create, he pinpoints 10 things unique to artists, writers, and innovators—the great thinkers of our time—that set them apart from the pack. As a speaker, Kaufman applies his groundbreaking research on intelligence and imagination to every arena: the classroom, the boardroom, and life at large.

To hear innovation speaker Scott Barry Kaufman’s insights on intelligence, imagination, creativity, and more, contact The Lavin Agency speakers bureau.