Creative thought is our most valuable human resource. Without it we would forever be repeating the same thing over and over: there would be no progress. It is a delicate process that explores regions of the mind that have not been opened up before. Hence, the results are different to what has gone before.

To enable creative solutions we must first enable creative thinking. All too often the embryo of an idea is shouted down and killed at birth. Suggestions that differ to the norm are held back for fear of ridicule. What is perceived as a “silly question” is more likely to be the first intimation of a totally new development.

If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it. (Albert Einstein)

Committees are the death knell to creative solutions. They are a battle ground of conflicting egos. Rather than nurturing ideas they destroy them before they have a chance of being understood. Creativity is an individual pursuit. The end result of creativity by committee is bland compromise.

Innovative ideas do not fit into the comfort zone of how things have always been done. Creative solutions are vulnerable and need a favourable environment for survival. For them to take root we must be optimistic, suspend disbelief and focus on positive implications. Critical analysis can follow.

No idea is so outlandish that it should not be considered with a searching but at the same time steady eye. (Winston Churchill)

Academic specialization hampers creative solutions. Innovation requires diverse experience and knowledge. It is achieved by questioning everything that has gone before and at the same time, utilizing what has gone before. It can sometimes be achieved by putting two diverse thoughts together. My experiments in making specialist paper from Dominica’s abundant natural resources have demanded my skills as artist, engineer and inventor. The remedy for one problem that I encountered lay not in today’s technology but by researching a forgotten process that was last used three hundred years ago.

When I served as consultant to one of England’s most ambitious regeneration initiatives the solution to a major traffic problem (similar to Roseau’s) came not from a college graduate or high ranking civil servant, but from a housewife standing next to me in the queue at the Post Office.

As I have stated before in previous commentaries, research has shown that we are born with 98% the creative potential of genius. But alas, by the time we reach adulthood conformity has reduced it to less than 2%. Those of us who are gifted with dyslexia – and 15% of West Indians are – have a head start in creative thought. Our brains are wired differently and we simply cannot think the same as everyone else.

Dominica has the resources to leave the rest of the region standing. But our potential cannot be realized by using hand-me-down solutions from elsewhere. We have to accept that we are different and in turn, cultivate our own creative solutions. Regular readers may remember that I developed this theme in my commentary A State of Self-Sufficiency.

But we have to be prepared to accept change. Some years ago I held a one-day workshop for Dominica’s private and public sectors titled, “Creativity in the Workplace”. To complement the occasion my wife cooked a creative lunch. It was made entirely from local produce but served with a different twist. One table sent their plates back untouched and asked for chicken pelau!