Can you invent something from scraps?
Recently I watched the semi-final week of BBC’s Masterchef. The challenge was to make something innovative from scraps and leftovers including cod’s head, scallops, salmon bones, pig’s ear and leftover fruit and vegetables. This invention test resulted in dishes such as cods cheek and scallop dumplings, salmon and scallop ravioli, coquilles St. Jacques and banofee pie using a leftover banana. For the best dishes, the judges commented, “who would have known these came from scraps?”
This reminded me of an expedition to the hardware store with my grandfather, many years ago. I needed some kind of tool that cost something like $10. His immediate reaction was, “I could make that for 10 cents!” He was very creative in this way, partly because of innate talent and partly because he grew up during the depression and learned to create useful things from scraps.
These experiences prompted me to think about how we can encourage Everyday Creativity, especially in situations of scarcity. I found a “Lifetime Creativity Scale” which measures our peak creativity and our extent of involvement in creative activity, which can be applied to both work and leisure. The authors identify the characteristics as below.
Levels for peak creativity
Moderate: Central innovative elements that stand out in the population, although not markedly; these may involve major modifications of common practices or products.
High: Presence of markedly distinctive innovative elements that set endeavors well apart from others in the population.
Exceptional: Radical departures from the commonplace; these may require conceptual reorganization to be assimilated.
Levels for extent of creative involvement
Moderate: Notable innovative activity in a pattern that tends to mix this with other forms of endeavor.
High: Markedly distinctive emphasis on innovation — a dominant life theme and primary commitment.
Exceptional: Pervasive, and perhaps compulsive, preoccupation with innovative activity to the virtual exclusion of other emphases.
The scales are designed for research measurement, but it made me wonder what we could learn about our everyday creativity. The Masterchef judges seemed to identify moderate to high creativity on the dishes they liked. The contestants advancing are showing creative involvement on a consistent basis.
Where would you rate yourself on the creativity scale on specific projects and over your lifetime? Do you have a desire to be more creative or more involved in creative activity? Are there “scraps and leftovers” sitting on your desk or around your house that you could use to make an invention? There is a great sense of accomplishment in creating something from very little.
Food for thought as we move into the 2nd quarter of 2019.
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