5 Ways to be Technically Creative
April 6, 2016
Technology is not often associated with creativity, but the two are more intertwined than you may think. Inspired by our last post about stepping outside of the box we place ourselves in, we thought, how do we use creativity in our technical endeavors? Where do we step outside of our normal roles and use creativity to solve a technical problem and create something worthwhile? We asked our team what it means for them to be technically creative and how they apply this creativity to their daily work as developers.
Check out these 5 ways to be technically creative straight from our team:
“It’s all about solving problems and designing systems for me. Most people don’t see my job as creative at all (I need a ruler to help me draw a straight line!), but I see it as an incredibly creative endeavor. I see the entire job as one intensely creative endeavor. Sure, there are many parts of it that are “technical”, but it goes so far beyond just writing code. Sitting down, meeting with stakeholders, identifying what their problems are and coming up with a plan to address them is creative. Solving a particularly difficult technical challenge is usually a creative work as well. A well crafted solution is often beautiful in a way that’s hard to describe, but you know it when you see it.” – Jay Oliver, Chief Technology Officer
“Our perception of creativity is tainted. All too often it seems that creativity and originality get mistaken for uniqueness. Originality does not mean, ‘one of a kind’. Creativity does not mean, ‘the ability to create something that is unique’. Back at school I took a class called, “Experimental Gaming”. Each week, the students were given a word and had to pitch a game to the professor that could be drafted, designed and made playable in just a week’s time. The professor stressed that if the idea had been done before, the pitch would not be approved. A lot of really creative ideas came out of this class. Not all of them were unique, but we didn’t know that at the time. We came up with these ideas on the spot. That is the emphasis that needs to be placed on creativity; it doesn’t mean, ‘using unique ideas to come up with a unique product’. Creativity is the use of one’s own imagination to create or fix something, without directly copying off of another’s work.” – Cory Bergquist, Software Developer
“Being a technical company for so long we’ve been mostly on the implementation side of a project and have had to be creative in the sense of figuring out how to build out so many creatively designed projects with little or no change to the actual design. I feel one side of being technically creative is being able to come up with those technical solutions. Being able to scour the internet, or work with others to figure out how to achieve something technically to fit a creative design that we had little technical influence on. The other side I believe is on the creative design end. Being able to design something with technology in mind or with a technical resource is also being technically creative, and in most cases brings better value to our clients where we’ve had the opportunity to do so. Designing apart from technology is no longer a viable solution, it’s the collaboration and creativity of both sides where the best product comes out.” – Dave Cardine, UX/Creative Director
“I think of computer science and development as an art more than a science. Science to me means there’s one clear and distinct path or answer to a question, but in our field, there’re a million ways to get from here to there. Likewise, solutions can invoke fear, anger, and happiness in developers just like a painting hanging on a wall. I like to exercise my creativity on complex problems or questions posed by clients. Usually when dealing with clients, there are many factors that play into their issues besides the problems themselves; for example: budget, timeline, maintenance, etc. Given the problem and the assumed variables, it’s a very fine balancing act of clean, elegant, functional code that meets all those bullet points. When working on a complex issue I try think of ways to visualize it as a real world problem and think of how I would solve it that way. A lot of times I’m able to visualize the solution by letting my mind take a walk and ‘not thinking about work’ (music, YouTube, anything else really helps).” – Steve VandenBush, Software Developer
“To me, technical creativity is having mastery over a wide variety of tools and techniques. You need to know what your tools can and cannot do. Technical creativity comes into play when you’re making something novel out of pieces that are mundane. If you’re building shelves and want to make something impressive, it’s important to know what tools you have available, and what you can do with each of them. If you have wood, glue, and a chisel set, you’re going to make shelves that are drastically different from the shelves you’d make with access to sheet-metal, screws, and PVC pipe. Every time I look at design comps, the exact designs are completely novel. New combinations of fonts, sizes, positions and colors that have never been used together. Implementing these designs in creative ways involves breaking down the designs and features into pieces that individually are nothing special. The creative process often involves recognizing small hidden patterns to simplify complex behaviors.” – Tim Leverett, Software Developer
Whether it’s an allocation issue, a technical challenge, or using new techniques, creativity plays a large role in doing high quality technical work. Where are you technically creative? Let us know on our Facebook wall!
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