Leadership optimize

Is there a place for creativity in IT?

The short answer to the question posed in that title is yes.

The answer to the question posed in the title is yes, and the more creative you are, the better your career will be. Actually, that holds true in just about any field, except perhaps finance. (In that case, you may richer due to creativity but, if there's a God, you may also be handcuffed one day and taken to the big house.)

But back to IT. Most people outside of IT probably have a certain image of a computer engineer -- a very analytical, A equals A type of person. More than likely Bill Gates comes to mind. And Mr. Gates is inarguably successful.

But then you have success as defined by someone like Steve Jobs, whose death struck such a chord among the general public. He combined technical genius with creativity -- he dreamed what could be and made it happen. Gates changed all our lives by making extraordinary tools and showing us how to use them. Jobs changed our lives by turning our dreams into tools.

But those are the big guys. Does creativity play a part in other aspects of IT? I wondered to myself if a developer, for example, would consider himself or herself creative.

I asked Jeremy Lwanga, a Senior Web Developer at CBSi, if he thought creativity played a role in his job. He said that was an interesting point of view. But then when he thought about it, he said that yes, "a good coder has to think of new ways to use old code" and that he strongly agrees that it plays a big part in one's IT career success.

So there is the analytical side of having a set of tools (the .NET framework, for example), but then there is the figuring out how to put the pieces together in new and interesting ways. It's like they all have the same "palette," but each coder has the opportunity to use the "colors" in a different way. If you have the talent to recognize and implement this, then you are going to be more successful.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

15 comments
apoole16
apoole16

I find this article interesting since I was an art major in college now working in IT. I find that creativity plays a huge role in not just IT but anywhere in the work force. Especially when it comes to trouble shooting you are a problem solver. And sometimes it takes being creative and always trying new things to solve problems! I think there is always a need for creativity that plays into being productive in your career wherever it may be! :)

mdwalls
mdwalls

A craft has been defined as a combination of art and science. Engineering is among the more disciplined crafts. In a craft setting the craftsperson must understand the theory of what they're attempting, demonstrate competence with the tools at hand, and also bring creativity to bear on nonstandardized problems -- all in order to craft a solution.

endlesslove7
endlesslove7

This article has no substance and did not really answer the leading question: "Is there a place for creativity in IT?". If yes, why and how? I think it was written just to mention the word ".NET" at the end of the article.

daryeo
daryeo

In my work places, yes, creativity has play its part, especially in UI design. how to simplify, to make complicated matters simple. Combination between creativity and technology update will create a great application.

deanwhitehead
deanwhitehead

@englebert ...there is a time and place for both qualities of a human being. Check Seth Godin's book "Linchpin", and you might welcome a broader perspective. Productivity trumps creativity most assuredly from the perspective of an employer. Creativity borne out of experience and followed by productivity is the model for entrepreneurs and the self-employed. In the end, like most skills and talents, the rule applies: use it or lose it. If you lose the ability to create, where will you be when your employer "frees you" from the constraints of employment?

eruiz
eruiz

hello, I am not a system engineeer, instead I am an electronic engineer, but i known how to make small pieces of code in visual cpp, vbasic, MFC and vba. As a person that sees the world from other perspective, i believe that systems engineers should stop thinking in their work as "art" that can be embellished with new techniques (more and more languajes, tricks,etc.) and begin to see what it is: a science. The use of engineering terms (for instance: patterns, OOP, binary reuse of code and exchange of data, algorithms science and deveop, use of graph theory), would made the system engineers better. The problem with the "art" component is that it includes a lot of (yes, a lot of) qualitative (or fuzzy) definitions so for each person in the world, it would be a possible answer for a problem. The most of science included in the software analisys, design, implementation, deployment, maintenance (i think that i cover all the live of an application), the better, simplier, elegant, useful, user liked (etc.) the final product will be. So, i belive that most of the creativity swhon lnes up tries to solve the "art" component issues included in the current way to solve system engineering problems. For example, i don??t believe that xml could be more efficient thah the old COM or CORBA stardards because it incrementes 100x the ammount of data to transmit, even the bandwidth. My point is simple: the fact it can not mean you should (or have to) i remember 15 years ago when our digital systems teacher encourage to develop a board that would be installed onto a AT/XT computer (i can??t remeber the model) constrained to a 2MB of external memory, programmed in assembly, with access to the mouse, video card and keyboard, introduces to me the rule to decrease the size of things, no matter the computer would be more powerful. (Imagine such a program running now into a modern PC with 4 cores processor and 4 GB of ram. it wouldn't be enough space for other programs?) In fact, the actual IDEs (aka, visual Studio, Mono, Eclipse, etc) should be focused into develop new tools to programers that can help them to use the science of programming rather that shortcuts or constrained to a particular problem. I started to read abour the RUP methodology, the the new Agile update, the old data-view pattern of MFC applications and the updated model-view-controller pattern and i couldn't believe that it doesn??t exist a IDe that covers the entire phase of the methodologies mentioned, from the requirements phase until de maintenance and final disposition one. Friends, you should focus your creativity on solve this kind of thinks Regards, Elias

Englebert
Englebert

Yes, there's room for creativity in IT, but beware, some of the most screwed up systems were designed by so-called creative people

nonimportantname
nonimportantname

There are only so many ways that a network engineer, for example, can deploy network access. And even if you did get creative with your network design, it's possible that the person coming in after you might not appreciate your "creativity". As a network admin, I've learned that the best policy is K.I.S.S. So for some roles, the scope of creativity is limited. For developers however, it is (and should be) limitless. I've been blessed with a job that allows me to develop new tools to solve old problems given a variety of different tools. I've developed add-in applications for Outlook that process data inside mail attachments, developed an on-call rotation management app using MMC 3.0, and a couple of other things. The best thing for me is that these were MY ideas. Even better, they work, and my users have praised my efforts. Situations like these are win (managers) - win (users) - win (me).

bhuti.mbele
bhuti.mbele

Yes we can learn about the programming languages that we use day in and day out and we can follow procedures of doing things but IT without Creativity does not exist for me. Even a support guy needs to think creatively on why something is not working, how it actually works and what could be a problem. There is not enough books that can teach you about IT that from there without any creativity you can just go and be good at what you do. I do agree there are people in IT who just follow rules and never ask questions and just do what they are told, but then again I wouldn't call those people IT specialist. The thing is anyone can do computer work, but it takes some skill to be an IT specialist and think like one. You have to see a picture in your head and draw it and by programming you can output what you have been seeing in your head. That's just my take on this, obviously other peopel will have different ideas. Regards B

mhbowman
mhbowman

Creativity can also mean new methods of presenting data such as dashboards that allow the user to drill down to the areas that THEY want and allowing them to play with the numbers as opposed to constantly churning out individual reports. It can also be about the automation of repetitive requests that allow people to get what they need when they need it so that you can move on to working on important things. For this to happen, you need to have backup from your boss. When your group becomes an open window that anyone can come along and throw something in, and it now becomes your problem, you quickly find yourself doing nothing but playing catch up, and never having time for anything but other people's work.

markjstanley
markjstanley

Is that it is utterly rubbish if you don't actually deliver the goods. It's like coming up with a great title for an article, but not being able to follow through with any content. Just saying.

adornoe
adornoe

The whole "article" was a question about whether "creativity" plays a part in IT, and ONE developer's answer was "yes". Did someone run out of ideas for an article? It's now 3 minutes of my life I'll never get back, but I just wanted to vent and hope that, time wasters like this one don't become the standard.

Freebird54
Freebird54

Perhaps the article was written more to spark a discussion than to exhaustively cover the possibilities? There is a lot of expertise available on this site, and it is well to tap into it.... Perhaps if we think of a given project as being analogous to building a house - at some point you need an architect, where creativity is welcome - perhaps required? - but you also have to get the bricks laid straight, and the plumbing correctly engineered. Save us all from too much creativity in these areas! Ley us all enjoy the ENTIRE experience, or skip to other areas if your time does not allow such enjoyment.

Michael Jay
Michael Jay

If you are creative enough you can figure your way through these screwed up systems designed by the creative folks, who seem sometimes to be too creative. :)

adornoe
adornoe

and anyone can use even the most insignificant of topics to create a huge discussion. If someone is going to introduce a topic for discussion, then the writer should have more research and more substance included so that, people might have some ideas about why a subject needs to be discussed. The approach of the writer seems to be that, in the age of the internet, anything will generate a large and meaningful discussion, and a huge number of clicks for advertising purposes. I could do the same with any topic, and I could just mention the name "Ballmer" with nothing at all behind it, and I'd get a few thousand eyes viewing the "article" and few hundred comments. My thoughts are that, any article or blog, should contain substance that can be addressed, and the substance shouldn't all have to be added by the readers.