RE: Youth vs. Creativity

Subject: RE: Youth vs. Creativity
From: Kat Nagel <kat_nagel -at- rte -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2001 10:12:09 -0500

Every time I see something like this, I get the giggles.

Creativity is NOT something that decreases (or increases) with age. The
least creative people I know are (1) the 20-somethings that insist on doing
everything the way they were taught, and (2) the 50-somethings that insist
on doing everything exactly the way they did last time. A pox on both their

Some people are naturally creative. They continually make startling
sideways connections between the current situation and...something else.
Sometimes that 'something' is a similar situation they faced in the past,
but often it is a situation, event, or thought that comes from a completely
different context.

One of the most creative engineers I've ever worked with, when he is stuck
on a sticky problem, models the function with Tinker Toys, Legos, and bits
of stuff he finds around the office. Another, 30 years younger, pulls
alternative solutions for software development problems from medieval and
renaissance battle strategies. (I suppose the SCA really deserves the credit
for several successful medical device innovations.)

Anyway, in my experience, creativity is not age-linked. It is a combination
of an open mind, insatiable curiosity, a habit of thinking in analogies,
and an environment that encourages risk-taking. Remove or restrict any of
these elements, and creativity dies.

Kat Nagel,
who totally freaked younger team members on a stalled project by suggesting
an alternative program architecture based on classic evolutionary speciation
theory. They thought it was crazy---"Software is NOT biology."---but it

-----Original Message-----
> Michele Davis wrote:
> Since we're young though, we're also creative, and can come up with many
> different ways to make money, just in case the whole technology market
goes down

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