Recently, I was asked what is the difference between ‘creativity’ and ‘ingenuity.’ The similarities are strong, but upon closer examination and interpretation, there are distinctions that bring clarity to the differences.
Looking at Webster, creativity is defined as using the ability to make or think of new things: involving the process by which new ideas, stories, etc., are created. Ingenuity follows as a skill or cleverness that allows someone to solve problems, invent things, etc.
It seems the two are indistinguishable when comparing their dictionary entries. But when you apply the critical and experienced eye of the business executive, the investor, or, the entrepreneur, subtle, yet significant, differences are realized.
An individual can demonstrate creativity in a myriad of ways. It can be in artistic expression — dance, poetry, photography, on stage and screen, painting, sculpting and beyond. Others prove creative in more industrial matters — energy processes, chemistry, physics, marketing, engineering, even in accounting.
Nearly everyone has some level or degree of creativity within them. In most individuals it manifests itself on the artistic side of the equation. Someone has a gift for storytelling or visually arousing imagery on canvas. We smile at the amateur who exhibits at the neighborhood craft fair and marvel at master hanging in the noble museum. We intrinsically recognize most greatness in contrast to simple creative expression. We tolerate sophomoric effort and accept juvenile attempts at creativity, and yet it is still creative. One does not want to squash the emotional and intellectual work that extends to one’s personality, inner voice or soul.
On the other hand, an individual may be creative, but not ingenious.
Ingenuity is weighed differently than creativity in this writer’s eye. Ingenuity has a value system that demands some social or economic benefit be a product of the creative individual or team putting forth a new idea, solution, or conception. The idea or expression must advance the world in ways that are more than just pleasing the the eye and ear, more than satisfaction of the soul. There must be a pragmatic or profitable outcome of the creative expression associated with the ingenious.
Creative people are not necessarily ingenious, while all who are ingenious are creative.
I’ll bring more to the table on this tomorrow.