We think we know what creativity is. At least we know it when we see it. It might be the unique way flowers are arranged in a vase. It might be how well we craft a plan of action to tackle a workplace problem. Creativity often comes in a flash or a spark with an "aha" moment. But can we really pinpoint what makes a person creative. There are no common denominators, right?
Actually, there may be. Science writer Jonah Lehrer, contributor to New Yorker magazine, has written a book to examine what creativity is. His book, Imagine: How Creativity Works, tries to get behind the spark that generates an idea. These sparks happen when we make connections. They also happen when we least expect them...like in the shower...or very early in the morning.
Many of his ideas seem like pure conjecture with careful examples as support. For example, he makes one connection between our creative minds and something as far-fetched as the layout of the buildings we work in. He cites examples of workplaces that are designed to support chance encounters between employees. The claim is that this creates opportunities for the exchange of ideas and leads people to come up with creative solutions that they wouldn't isolated to their desks.
Lehrer certainly builds convincing cases for each of his conjectures and this makes for great reading.