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IMAGINATION AND INNOVATION: The emergence of a creative society
A PLETHORA of intellectually exciting (but sometimes confusing) concepts of development have been formulated and disseminated in society, particularly during the last two decades.
These concepts have become the overarching intellectual frames of development.
Creativity has been the idea which has been the clarion call in the school and university systems, and in the society at large.
Together with creativity comes the notion of innovation.
At the tertiary level, creativity and innovation are expected to lead to commercialisation.
Underpinning these ideas are the endeavours of research and development.
Underpinning research and development are the notions of the generation of intellectual property and patents, entrepreneurship and global mind-sets.
Typically, such concepts are promoted by the government, explained in blueprints and government strategic plans and the annual budgets.
Together with such a family of concepts come the institutional icons and the individuals considered shapers and influencers.
These are the gurus as well as the doers.
Organisation after organisation has been recognised for excellence in marketing, in branding, in human resource leadership, in the quality of products and in exemplary services.
Leaders of organisations have become the icons of success and their stories told and retold across industries and across the globe.
The emphasis on creativity now is not that society has not been creative before.
Necessity has always been the mother of invention in traditional societies.
In traditional society as in societies in the technological era, organisations exercise their creative talents and competencies in imitation, innovation and invention of goods, products and services.
Local history has recorded the creation of arts and crafts, utensils, and implements, household goods and community amenities and all kinds of creative works of traditional technologies.
Transforming traditional societies into sophisticated advanced societies are challenging tasks.
While transforming national visions into realities, every citizen has to personally experience the need and the will to change.
Change is about understanding the forces of conformity and uniformity and standardisation and convergence. It also means being boldly and confidently different.
Change means exciting divergences from norms, although fundamental values of first principles of rights and responsibilities remain steadfast.
The initial sources of ideas for development may have come from political, management or social science gurus, particularly from economic, management and development gurus from abroad.
These various ideas have been adopted by planning and government leaders who drive development and change.
Academia and the civil service have typically responded reactively but positively and constructively to such ideas.
At this contemporary stage of development, the government framework of policy ideas has just begun to become the corpus of ideas owned by academicians, but not quite owned by the people.
The challenge of building a creative society is to put in place ideas, institutions, mechanisms and other support infrastructure and to nurture a critical mass of changemasters who believe in the emergence of the creative society.
Change invites thinking out of the box, accepting new paradigms and moulding new mind-sets.
Effective change means being no more cultural and organisational prisoners but being autonomous.
Effective changes mean formulating designed futures which change destinies which are changeable within limits.
Beyond the hype and the seriousness of change driven by inspiring ideas such as imagination, creativity and innovation, there has to be a focus on common sense and a focus on the hard work and the small savings over the years which become the wealth of families.
The prudent spending and the day-to day encounter with realities of cutting everything to the clothes that fit, becomes the basis of stable wealth, instead of dreaming the "Impossible Dream".
However, individuals and societies need the inspiration of imagination and romantic pursuits to rise above themselves and be all that they can be.
Educational reforms at all levels must embed the knowledge and values of imagination, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship, in aligned ways, towards a creative society.
It is not just individuals who fictionalise their lives, but nations too can formulate the Impossible Dream through national vision and bold strategic planning.
To achieve new visions, dreams, and possibilities, in the enclaves of life decisions made in the minds of men, every individual has to challenge the authority of tradition in the silent battle of ways of life and present and future freedoms.