It’s a great feeling shouting out the correct response prior to the contestants on Jeopardy. For those brief moments, you may even imagine yourself as the next Ken Jennings who won the record 74 consecutive contests.
That’s until the unfamiliar clue is displayed. The contestants all quickly buzz in. A contestant nonchalantly says, “Who is Don Quixote?” The other contestants roll their eyes for not buzzing in quick enough with the obvious response. Then you stop Googling “how to become a Jeopardy contestant” and begin Googling “Don Quixote”.
After you gave up on becoming a Jeopardy contestant, along came Watson. Watson is a room-sized IBM computer that was a contestant on Jeopardy last year. It was no longer about whether you knew the correct response to the clue “Jacques de Molay”. After Watson defeated super champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, you began to feel like a bank teller when the first ATM arrived.
Here is the good news. Unless your job is to know the name of “the last grand master of the Knights Templar”, Watson will not replace you. While knowledge has become a commodity with the Web and sites like Wikipedia, the demand for your human creativity has never been better. With creativity and the other enablement competencies, you can make almost anything happen.
- Knowledge – “understand it”
- Enablement People Skills – “secure support & commitment ”
- Realities Aptitude – “see it coming”
- Creativity – “new idea acceptance”
- Enduring Grit – “thousands of small choices to make one big thing happen”
Creativity is not about the right answer, it’s about creating something new and accepted. It begins with imagination and becomes creativity after it is nuanced, synthesized and people accept it.
Imagination → Acceptance
- Something Original → Something Original & Accepted
- Something New → Something New & Meaningful
- A Good idea → Idea synthesized with traditional ideas, rules, patterns & relationships
- Ah hah Moment → Process of Getting Acceptance
Creativity is the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms (artwork, literary work), methods, problem solving and interpretations.
The four creativity skills that can be learned:
1. Imagining – The ability to let your mind wander, dream and imagine. It’s the self-confidence to share your crazy ideas with others. It’s embracing big ideas over safe ideas. It’s taking risks on unlikely breakthrough innovations rather than tweaking improvements for likely incremental innovations.
2. Nuancing – The ability to identify the list of people, beliefs and realities that would be impacted. It is nuancing it to each on the impacted list. It is empathy for people to relate to their associated challenges and reactions. It’s the intuition to keep going without all the answers.
3. Synthesizing – The ability to synthesize a way it could be viable by addressing the needs of the various people, communities and realities. It is the iterative process of tuning from dialog and feedback from the stakeholders to find the common intersection of what is possible.
4. Securing Acceptance – People do not like change. Securing acceptance means people must change their processes, products, services and/or way of thinking. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Creativity – Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention” states “What counts is whether the novelty he or she produces is accepted for inclusion in the domain.”
While Watson did beat Brad and Ken, the good news is that you need to worry more about people like Brad or Ken replacing you than Watson. There are others that disagree. Futurist Ray Kurzweil predicts that by 2029, computers will be smart enough to pass the Turing Test, in which a human judge can’t tell the difference between answers given by a human and the computer.
While we would welcome a natural voice-driven auto phone attendant that works, no computer algorithm will imagine, nuance, synthesis and understand acceptance like a human brain. If the day does come for the Turing Test, and Ray Kurzweil invites questions, I would propose:
What should I buy my spouse for Christmas?
What should I say to my friend trying to understand a difficult relationship?
What should I say to my boss who wants more customers, with less people and better profits?
If the Turing Test is whether you can tell the difference between humans and computers, the computer will fail. The spouse, friend and boss may like the computer’s answer better, though they will certainly know the difference. While Watson is impressive, it will enhance us, not replace us. Just like the 300hp truck that delivers packages to your home instead 1,000 trained athletes that produce the same level of output.
While Watson will continue to offer us amazing new capabilities, it will not replace human creativity. If you want to avoid being replaced by automation, ensure you are required to be creative (and/or a problem solver) and become an early adopter of new technologies like Watson.
Creativity is embracing your imagination like Walt Disney. Disney shared his crazy ideas. He nuanced them, synthesized them and delivered acceptance to people watching Disney movies at Walt Disney World. He conveyed the warmth of his human heart into magical experiences for generations of children and families. Disney related to humans, something Watson will never do.
Your creativity, ability to take your imagination to acceptance, will not be replaced by computers. If it is combined with Knowledge, Enablement People Skills and Realities Aptitude, it can help make almost any dream or big idea happen.