The world has progressed exponentially but the way forward is to select carefully from the creative method that applies to one’s context

The world progresses because it has pioneers. To be deemed a pioneer, a person must be able to do something which was never quite done before. It may be a discovery, creation or developing an insight. Illustratively, the Wright Brothers were pioneers when they built the world’s first practical fixed-wing aircraft. They were pioneers in making the first powered, controlled and sustained flight over 100 years ago. Every pioneering activity tries to negotiate the unknown. Path-breakers create opportunities to discover, explore, improve and basically deal with harnessing possibilities. There are some institutions born with a pioneering and innovative belief and the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED) is one of them. It is rooted in the understanding that much of the forest produce has yet to be completely discovered and fully harvested. Often, even when people have gathered or “discovered” forest produces, they do not know how to convert them into progressively more worthwhile products. By adding value to the produce, by eliminating some of its attributes or adding new elements, it becomes more useful and meets some of the market’s needs quicker and better. It could also orient the buyer on how to do the same thing differently. This indeed is the heart of an innovative act and process.

Put simply, an innovative mind is marked by passion, curiosity, openness, courage, proactive orientation and divergent thinking. When monetised and put to covert advantages, forest produce gives to tribal folk better returns for their labour and better return on value. Some organisations have a structure for doing and developing this. They deal with facilitating market exchange and supporting tribes to understand and better the market economy and take it further. In the process, some of these institutions operate a network of collaboration with other entities and organisations. These include some world-class research and development institutions. They all help the core marketing enterprise to achieve its mission. It is worth exploring the principles of creativity and innovation to explain how pioneerism, making produce and marketing improvement can lead to better life for all concerned.

This is not a fable of hope. It is a description of what is rolling out on the ground. It is incredible how a produce graduating through primary innovation, secondary innovation and tertiary innovation can register a successful positioning in the market. In other cases a produce can achieve market attention even before the above three steps are completed. The important thing is to see the innovative process as a journey with feasible and marketable landmarks where at each stage a possible monetisation can take place. This will add to the practitioner’s perspective. Before that, however, an effort at context-setting may be in order. Talk and use of creativity is as old as the rivers. When the ancient seer of India recited the cantos of the Vedas he was riding the crest of his creative self. When the musicologist deciphered nadas (sound vibrations) of the brahmand (universe) the foundation of vocal arts using the auditory sensibilities of humans was laid.

Similar remarks can be made of other artistic and literary creative efforts. Parallely, there is the category of scientific creativity.            The writer of these lines has developed the third concept of creativity beyond literary and scientific, called “informed creativity” which is best manifested in the problem-solving domain. There the instincts of problem-solving lead one to sourcing solutions, not because there is a muse as in writing poetry or a creative extrapolation because of a scientific logic, but a completely different platform of applied experience.

In the case of informed creativity, the instincts of the karta (the doer) tell him which way to go because his experience becomes the insight and solutions emerge instinctively. In management consulting, there can be situations where the two types of creative universes — scientific and literary — converge. One is where a type of a logic prevails in dealing with an inanimate universe, like in the category of materials. In dealing with them, there is a predictive validity, which can be both precise and quantitatively-oriented. In dealing with live entities like human beings, the predictive validity is doubtful because quantitative parameters are feeble at work. It is when the situation needs both predictive validity and is partially incapable of one, that “informed creativity” gets to work.

To elaborate further, when experiments related to atoms and the efforts at their synthesis and disaggregation were being made, it called for a visualisation of a possibility, which only a creative mind was capable of. This is the bedrock of “informed” creativity.

Roughly 200 years ago, Galton captured the key elements of such situations by captioning it “applied creativity”, which was made a synonym for innovation. The world has progressed in many directions, in many domains with varying intensities over the last 200 years. The way forward would be to select carefully from the creative method, for what applies to one’s context best.