Big surprise

The relation between success and creativity is complicated. Clearly creativity is considered to be a determinant of success, but the correlation is far from perfect. An idea could be impeccable, but apparently chance has a lot to say about the outcome.

How then can one predict whether or not a creative process will lead to a desirable outcome? How can one judge the quality of one’s insight and brilliance when introducing a new concept or product?

When thinking of creativity, we primarily base our judgments on how successful the idea will be. We even use creativity and success interchangeably sometimes. Is that a healthy way to look at things though?

Makridakis, Hogarth and Gaba’s book Dance with Chance is full of illuminating anecdotes on the issue. For instance it quotes instances from recent history of technology, where it emphasizes the surprise factor in creativity based success. It tells the story of Google, whose $1.6 million price tag was considered unacceptably high by internet giants, just a decade ago. Silicon valley success stories did not see coming one of the greatest ideas in their own world.

But wait a minute. Google’s insightful creators tried to sell their own super-successful idea for just $1.6 million. It seems the success of their idea was a surprise for them too.

The book provides many other examples, including how Apple’s visionary and creative leader Steve Jobs was rumored to have almost given up his stock options in 2003, which made him a multi-billionaire, just 4 years later. Somehow, he also failed to foresee his own uncontested success.

I wish you surprise yourself big time one day.

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