Towards a Definition of Creativity

— Wisconsin Task Force on Arts and Creativity in Education
Updated on Feb 19, 2010

Creativity can be defined on a variety of levels: cognitively, intellectually, socially, economically, spiritually, and from the perspective of different disciplines within the arts, sciences, and humanities. All students in Wisconsin can develop their creative capacities if they have access to rich learning opportunities in environments that nurture and support their creative development.

Imagination, Creativity, and Innovation

“The first step is imagination, the capacity that we all have to see something in the mind’s eye. Creativity is then using that imagination to solve problems—call it applied imagination. Then innovation is putting that creativity into practice as applied creativity.”

    -Sir Ken Robinson, Reading, Writing, and Creativity, Business Week, February 23, 2006,

According to international education expert Sir Ken Robinson, the creative process involves being imaginative, creative and innovative - three distinct but related concepts.
  • See - Imagination, Seeing something in the mind's eye
  • Think - Creativity, Using imagination to solve problems
  • Produce - Innovation, Applying creative ideas and implementing solutions

Similarly, business consultant Linda Naiman defines creativity as "the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality."

"Creativity involves two processes: thinking, then producing.  Innovation is the production or implementation of an idea.  If you have ideas, but don't act on them, you are imaginative but not creative."

  - Linda Naiman, What is Creativity?

According to these experts, learners who exercise creativity combine imagination, creative thought, and innovation to produce something novel that has value.  The ability to imagine, create, and innovate are key components of what it means to be creative - a quality that is fast becoming a key to future success.

Creative Capacities

 Integrating creativity education into arts, academic, and training programs can help learners develop their creative capacities—the skills and attitudes that contribute to imaginative, creative, and innovative thinking. The creative process often involves identifying a problem, exploring multiple solutions, and accepting the risk of failure as the best solution emerges. A base of disciplinary knowledge enables creative work.


  • Inquire
    •  Pose questions that arise from curiosity.
  • Find, Frame, and Solve Problems
    • Identify, articulate, and solve problems.
  • Integrate Ideas
    • See patterns, find relationships, and make connections among ideas.
  • Think Critically
    • Question, analyze, and synthesize ideas.
  • Reflect
  •             Contemplate and evaluate ideas.
  • Take Action
    • Initiate action and follow through in bringing ideas to fruition.
  • Collaborate
    • Work productively with others to bring ideas to fruition.
  • Communicate
    • Express ideas in a variety of ways using a variety of media.
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