Review: Creative Confidence by Tom Kelley and David Kelley

   Creative Confidence  is an accessible go-to guide for anyone who wants to exercise their creative muscles and grow to be better at their work, drive sustainable success and just have more fun (period). Go read this book.

Creative Confidence is an accessible go-to guide for anyone who wants to exercise their creative muscles and grow to be better at their work, drive sustainable success and just have more fun (period). Go read this book.

Over the years, I've had many people—clients, friends and family (not just my mom)—tell me, in some fashion or another, that I'm really creative. I'm genuinely thankful for these compliments and it's true, I feel like creativity and imagination have been a constant thread from my childhood, through education and into my career and interests as an adult. At the same time, these compliments often come with an implication that the admirer doesn't think they are creative at all. How sad: I can't think of anything that is farther from the truth.

I believe that we are made, as humans, to be innately creative. That we are driven to create, in big or small ways. That we all receive incredible joy, satisfaction and life-giving renewal from the act of creation itself. When people believe they aren't creative, it is usually the result of having it literally trained, insulted or compartmentalized out of them, so that they don't even think they have it anymore.

That's why I'm so excited to have just read the book Creative Confidence. This is a book for everyone, whether you feel like you don't have a creative bone in your body, you are a Chief Creative Officer, or you are an award-winning artist.

Written by Tom and David Kelley, two brothers who have worked closely together at the innovation design consultancy IDEO, the book delivers a strong shot in the arm to boost, as the title says, creative confidence. It shows how to be creative and how to cultivate it, with plenty of examples from business, academics and life in general that will make the possibility of creativity come alive. Make no mistake, this is a business book, but the content can apply to just about anyone who is interested.

The book works to provide confidence by methodically sharing a process of applied creativity, called Design Thinking, based on the brothers' experiences problem solving for clients across the globe at IDEO and the teaching graduate students at Standford's d.School (Hasso Plattner Institute of Design). Each chapter contains an illuminating example of someone who was enlightened and was able to transform their work or situation because of the process of design thinking and creative confidence.

One small nit: Even as a consultant and designer who's work focuses on engaging in creativity and doing something new, I found myself wishing for a bit more focus on the business connection (and delineation) between creativity (often under-rated) and innovation (possibly overhyped). 

By the end of the book, the Kelley brothers will have given you plenty of points to practice, new tools to implement for yourself or your team, and exercises to try. But when it's all over, you will have a choice. To do or not to do. And if you practice what they preach, you might actually start to think of yourself as a creative person. Imagine that.