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High-Level Creativity for Nonprofit and For-profit Organizations: Inspiration or Perspiration

Creativity is valued as an essential human ability. For much of recorded history, the ability to produce creative outcomes has been seen as a gift bestowed rather than as a capacity commonly existing in humans. In more current times, however, research has suggested that there are a number of personal attributes commonly present in individuals who have established a reputation for being creative in their respective fields. Findings from a recent research study support this assertion. The eight participants in this study were high-achieving and highly creative individuals who had received the prestigious MacArthur Foundation award for creativity. They work in a range of fields including physics, agriculture, computer technology, human rights, conservation pharmaceuticals, environmental policy and music. Each is a founder of either a for-profit or a nonprofit organization. Findings suggested that the study participants rely on specific habits and practices in their pursuit of creative outcomes. Particularly important are (a) the ability to take a big picture view of a situation, (b) the tendency to combine disparate ideas, and (c) the capacity to live with ambiguity during the cognitive process.

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