Tuesday, 3 September 2013


This is an important book. It’s one of those books that you may find on the business shelf, but it has implications for the individual, for business, for the economy and for society and humankind as a whole.

Bruce Nussbaum’s book is easy to read, but not simplistic. It covers and draws inspiration from a wide range of disciplines, from anthropology and psychology to education as well as design and business. The bulk of the book is devoted to what Nussbaum terms the “5 competencies of Creative Intelligence” which he defines as Knowledge Mining, Framing, Playing, Making and Pivoting. In discussing all of these, he brings a wealth of super examples as well as how-to tips. I like the inclusion of the “back end” competencies Making and Pivoting, as creativity doesn’t end with ideas!

I also found the section on the Economic Value of Creativity in which Nussbaum describes the new economic system of Indie Capitalism inspiring. I think I cheered aloud at least once! This system values chance and human unpredictability rather than reducing to what can be measured as in the efficiency of markets system.

I have a couple of very minor criticisms. Firstly, I found there were rather too many clichés of the “see them as challenges, not problems” type, as well as the repetition of the “we don’t think of ourselves as creative” line. Well, some of us do! The examples in the book have, inevitably, a US bias.

Overall, this is a book that is well worth reading, and I’ll be referring back to it. I particularly like the dispelling of the “lone genius” myth and the focus on the social conditions that lead to creativity. Nussbaum knits together a number of disparate trends, from gaming and crowd-funding, the renaissance of making and the return to local production in a readable and thought-provoking book.  

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