Positivity, Playfulness, Passion and Persistence. What do these mean in terms of creativity? This is a framework I came across when studying creativity back in the early nineties as part of my MBA and it resonated with me. The 4 Ps are characteristics or behaviours that are conducive to creativity. They can equally apply to developing a creative climate in an organisation or as a checklist for ones own level of creativity.
Positivity – this is an attitude of mind, where opportunities are perceived rather than problems. When we are being positive, we can look at issues in a way that is open to possibility. This can mean reframing the issues as opportunities, rather than seeing them as problems.
If we are negative, then we build up barriers and see little hope. We often talk of seeing a glass half full or half empty and this is a useful analogy for positivity. Another example of how this can play out is when some people habitually respond with a ‘yes but’ to suggestions made. If we do this, then people will stop involving us in new projects. We will be putting up barriers to any change. Instead of using ‘yes but’ when faced with discussion of change why not try ‘yes and’, and to introduce any further thoughts you may have that you think have been overlooked. This confirms that you are open to new ideas and at the same time are aware that there may be issues that have not yet been aired.
The next of the 4 Ps is Playfulness. It may be helpful here to reflect upon how young children use their imagination when playing. For example, observe how a basic cardboard box can become a vehicle or a house. Young children do not have the censor, that adults have learned to adopt, which tells them that this won’t work etc. In a work situation it can be also about being flexible as well as introducing an element of fun. A playful attitude will enable openness to new ideas and taking risks. Risk taking is crucial to creating something new.
The next of the 4 P’s is Passion. This is very much related to motivation and commitment. If you are passionate about something you are likely to lose yourself in its pursuit and can get into that state of flow that Csikszentmihalyi talks about. Being motivated and committed to what you are doing also enables you to be persistent in pursuing a result. Our passion for something keeps us interested and committed to the process and this is important because we will inevitably face times when progress can’t be made, when we face obstacles to the change we want to happen.. This leads us into the next of the 4 P’s, Persistence.
The final of the P’s is Persistence. This is characterized by trying again and again to achieve something. Trying to solve that problem or move forward to implementation for example. Persistence is a trait demonstrated by many artists who work with their craft consistently until they feel satisfied with the result. It is about not giving up when we hit obstacles or receive negative responses from others.
As a checklist for individual or collective creativity, I hope that you will find this useful.
Barbara is an executive coach, leadership and creativity facilitator. She has coached in a variety of corporate settings, and has developed a unique approach to using creative techniques in her coaching and workshops to enable change at a group or individual level. She has recently co-authored a book on creativity for leaders, called Creativity Cycling , with Dr. Tracy Stanley.