Motivation and Measurement for Creativity

Renee Hopkins, writing at Corante’s Ideaflow, posted two recent pieces on motivation for creativity. She compares two quotes, one from Teresa Amabile about the intrinsic motivation for creativity, the other from an article in Business 2.0 about measuring creative success through the market.

The conclusion Renee reaches is that intrinsic motivation is not a universal condition for successful creativity. I disagree with this and I think the problem is a confusion between measuring and motivating creativity.

Measuring creativity requires some type of criteria, whether it be success in the market or longevity over time. But measuring creativity is an aftereffect of the process.

Motivation, by contrast, describes the reason for the creativity in the first place. The extrinsic vs. intrinsic distinction isn’t an either/or. People can be motivated to be creative by both factors. However, I think that a strong case can be made that intrinsic motivation is necessary for creativity. Even the commercial creatives Hopkins is hiring for her own work have an intrinsic property, idea-centric creativity, that makes them useful for her work. I think the creatives working in advertising, the movies or elsewhere must be motivated by intrinsic factors in order to create anything. That intrinsic factor could be the enjoyment they get from their job, or the playfulness of mind they experience while working on a new idea. Offering more money or rewards to people is not sufficient to generate creativity.