In these notes, I’ve been puzzling on Creativity – what it is, why it is, and how we invoke and use it.  Economist Harry Dent Jr. tells us, “At its basic level the creative process is simply the solving of problems that stand in the way of attaining a dream.


Psychologist Donald MacKinnon, in his book, IN SEARCH OF HUMAN EFFECTIVENESS:  Identifying and Developing Creativity, agrees.  He wrote, “The creative process starts always with the seeing or sensing of a problem.  The roots of creativeness lie in one’s becoming aware that something is wrong, or lacking, or mysterious….”

Basically the guy is saying that if we don’t see any sort of problem in the world around us, then we wouldn’t need to be creative.

This makes sense, actually.  If you cannot see a problem there is no way you are going to make the effort to gear up and go searching for some answer.  Quests start for a reason…usually the end-of-everything-as-we-know-it.  The quester sorts either want to stop the end from happening or they want to bring it on.

(This sort of makes me wonder whether all the creative types in the world are not just a bunch of troublemakers…but that’s probably another story.)

The deal is, though, when you’re an Artful Dodger it’s a given that you’re probably going to be a noticing sort.  What you notice will depend on your particular sensitivity of perception.


Most people have the same ways of sensing things, more or less.  Some people are more adept at using a particular sense than others.  In order to figure out what’s what in the world, you take in sensory information (seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, or smell or any combination thereof) and give meaning to that information in your head.

You may notice and remember a taste or a smell or the feel of some texture or other.  You may respond to the sound and feel of words or musical notes.  You may be sensitive to the way your body moves in the world.  You may be keenly aware of human behavior or emotional byplays or other human phenomena.

Most people have one or more areas of perception that are really, really strong and a whole bunch of other ones that are sort of “meh.”  Each of us sees the world in our own peculiar way since we all have varying degrees of sensitivity to all the stimulating whatevers out there that keep happening all the time in the world.

Guys who study this stuff pretty much tell you that whatever you perceive or sense keenly is the arena within which you will be most likely drawn to play.  (Your perceptions build your stadiums, it seems.)  Within this arena you are most likely to find things that are a puzzlement to you, things that need to be resolved in your own mind.

Because you can pinpoint these things using your own ways of sensing, because you notice them and are likely to be bothered by anything that’s “off” in that arena, you are particularly equipped to effect changes or resolve issues in them if you choose.  And that’s why creativity starts with perception, with being aware of some problem or other.

So, according to scientific, philosophic and all the other ‘-ic’s, it is the problems you perceive and the things that confuse you which actually are the impetus for getting off your tush and looking for some kind of answer that makes sense to you.


Paul Souriau, a 19th-century French philosopher who studied human inventiveness and formulated theories about aesthetics, pointed out, “It is said that a question well-posed is half-answered.  If so, then true invention consists in the posing of questions.

Souriau goes on to say, “There is something mechanical, as it were, in the art of finding solutions.  The truly original mind is that which finds problems.


Here’s a poem….


It’s the inchworm problem

All over again:

What do you measure

When you’re trying to prove

The efficacy, the “success”

Of your latest move?

What do you parse?

What words do you use?

What is the definition

Of “win,” of “lose.”

Look at that worm…

There he goes,

And where he stops

Not even he knows.

The little guy’s humping up

And now he’s schlumping down,

Measuring the marigolds

Little eyebrows furrowed in a frown.

Measuring stem and petal

And all the other bits

As the flower slowly dwindles

And its fleeting beauty flits.

All that striving,

Undoubtedly duly noted

In some report or other

Likely to be quoted.

All of that effort,

The job is intense,

But those numbers mean little

‘Cause the problem’s still immense.

By Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  “Tape measures not included” by Alma Gamil via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]



(Click on each of the post titles below and see where it takes you…)


Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below.

14 thoughts on “SO, WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

  1. michael jones says:

    I’m a huge fan of poetry. If I’m not the first to say it I love the site. Poetry is about creativity and this site is very creative. It’s logical meaning, pages with images are consistent throughout the pages, and the text isn’t just assorted it’s all the same size and is readable. Great job creating the site, I love it

    1. Hey Michael:

      Thank you for your visit and your comments. Please do come again….

  2. Hey Netta,
    I am absolutely mind blown. There was a time when I alway believed that creativity is something a person is born with it that was until I started writing and realized that good writing is actually a lot of hard work.

    You article on creativity and problem solving has greatly influenced my perspective and attitude towards creativity and creative expressions.

    Who would have thought that unless you do not see a problem [or as I would like to think, unless you have keen observation] and either question or try to find the answers to question, true creativity does not flow.

    It was wonderful reading such a refreshing post in such a long time.

    1. Thanks for your visit and your comments, Josh. Please come again….

  3. Wow!! it’s been a while since I’ve read some poetry that deep. Our perceptions create the life we have without creativity but when we dig deeper into life itself and give it a bigger meaning, creativity expands in all directions. We limit creativity based on the perception that there is nothing to change but true creativity comes from the mystery of WONDERING “what if?”
    Awesome read, thanks again.

    1. Hey Genna:

      Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I do agree…”What if…” is a mighty big question!  And it’s a lot of fun to explore too!

      Please do come again.

  4. I used to be a big fan of poetry in my childhood, I would even write and compose some. But my native language wasn’t English, so I can’t say I grew up with poetry language. However, I agree that poetry has to do with creativity and the way you perceive things. Maybe poets have a different way of seeing the world and everything surrounding them, otherwise I can’t explain how they can put so many untold things into words. 

    Loved your poetry, by the way – even though I’m not a native English speaker, I was able to get the message. 

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Ashley.

      I think every language is a “poetry language.”  As long as humans think using symbols and metaphors and as long as they try to express things that cannot really be put into words (feelings, body-things, and things that relate to the spirit), there will be poetry, no matter what the language.

      I also think that most human constructs — whether it’s art, systems of thought or anything like that — are also poems of one sort or another.  They are ways we humans interact and connect with one another.  Very cool.

      To me, we are all poets, us humans.  Even you….

      I am glad you were able to connect with my poem.

      I hope you’ll come again.

  5. As a musician, the concept of creativity has been fascinating to me. I never did understand where it came from, or where it goes when encountering a writing block. 

    I agree that it comes from solving a problem that we perceive. Especially in arts like music and poetry, I think that a lot of those issues can be introspective, but similar in everybody which is why it connects us. 

    I will definitely work on my sensitivity and perception, and hopefully it will boost my creativity along the way! 

    Beautiful poem at the end, I really enjoyed it.

    1. Alex, thank you for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I’m pleased the post was a help to you.

      Please do come again.

  6. Hello Netta, thank you for this post about creativity and problems. I really thought that creativity is inborn and oftentimes, I tell myself that I am not born creative. 

    But reading this post about creativity being a result of problems really makes sense to me. I have been forced to be creative when faced with problems or situations that need solutions.

    1. Yay, Julai!  You got it!  You, too, carry a bit of the Creative around with you and you’ve got all you need to go looking for problems to solve…which is the very essence of this whole innovation/creative stuff, you know.

      You go, girl!  Go get them problems and wrestle them to the ground.  (It is a heck of a lot of fun when you’re the one choosing which problem you’re going to tackle first.)

      And please do come again….

  7. Hi, Netta! It is crucial to come up with questions. Good questions can propel us forward. Much of our creative process consists in finding solutions or answers to these questions. I have been thinking about this. And I was excited to read in your post that we agree on many points.

    1. Abel, I do agree that good questions are a big help when we’re trying to solve some problem or other.  Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I do appreciate it.

      Please come again.

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