The 4-C Model of Creativity
Updated: Oct 1, 2019
Who knew that creativity had its own little continuum?
I recently stumbled upon the work of Dr. James C. Kaufman and Dr. Ronald Beghetto on the four developmental levels of creativity or the '4Cs' of creativity. At first glance, it's a pretty nifty framework for figuring out where you stand in your creative development.
Here's a quick snapshot:
1) Mini-c: This is the first level of creativity. It's the type of creativity involved when someone tries their hand at something new. If you're at the mini-c level, you may not be creating anything revolutionary but it is, nonetheless, new and meaningful to you. At this stage, the only impact of the creative act is on the individual. Think of this as Shakespeare starting to write for the very first time and finding whole worlds within himself.
2) Little-c: This level is a step above mini-c. It's the type of creativity involved when someone starts to get better at their craft, perhaps through feedback and continuous improvement. If you're at the little-c level, what you create is valued by others. At this stage, your creative act impacts you and your zone of influence. Think of this as Shakespeare crafting a sonnet that his friends and family love to read.
3) Pro-c: At this level, one has the ability to be creative at a professional level and in a professional venue. If you're at the pro-c level, you may be making a living out of your creative pursuit. People who do not know you see your work and recognize it as valuable. You may be impacting an organization, field, system of practice or market. Think of this as the first time Shakespeare started to receive a measure of public recognition for his work - perhaps a play of his was performed for the first time.
4) Big-C: When someone reaches this this level, they are operating at such an extraordinary level of creative prowess that they often go down in history. At this stage, your work is widely recognized as having a transformative impact on culture, society, even the world. This pinnacle of creative development happens rarely. Even for Shakespeare, it probably only happened posthumously.
While I find this conceptualization a good nudge to keep growing in your craft, I think the framework almost does artists and writers a disservice by emphasizing external recognition as the litmus test of creative development. I wonder if this is precisely the type of thinking that gets folks unduly worried about the reception of their work, at the exclusion of the art itself.
Just a thought.