Creativity, one of our greatest undeveloped natural resources, is truly a "sleeping giant". Everyone has some latent creativity, but only rarely is it given an opportunity to emerge. Under proper conditions of environment, stimulus and attitude, each of us could develop our creative abilities to their fullest potential. Creativity is not necessarily limited to long- haired scientific research, but is the development, application, or adaptation of any concept or technique which is new either to the person or the application. Creative thinking can very effectively be applied to our ever present goal-to find better ways to efficiently and profitably discover, develop and produce oil and gas reserves.
Creativity, the ability to produce new ideas and to develop practical innovations, is one of our greatest undeveloped natural resources. Although everyone has some degree of inherent creative ability, only rarely do they have an opportunity to fully develop and put it to practical use. It is much easier to accept things as they are-to live with a tool or a technique which has been reasonably successful in the past-than to pause long enough to develop something better. In fact, it is possible to get so wrapped up in our work that we do not realize the need for improvement. We must remember that growth in business is almost always related to innovations of some kind. Try to picture the present condition of the industry if it were not for such creative developments as water flooding, rotary drilling, etc. It is also important to realize that every improvement is the result of people-creative individuals who are able to recognize a problem, find a practical solution and put it into operation. Many industries consider this ability so important that they require a demonstration of creative ability before hiring technical personnel. Actually, this concentration on the selection of highly creative people only solves part of the problem. The vast, relatively untapped pool of latent creativity already present in every organization can be developed into an even more potent tool. It therefore is vitally important to develop an organizational climate favorable to the stimulation of originality in those of us who never considered ourselves to be particularly creative.
The creativity needed by the oil industry is not the type displayed by Mozart or Einstein, but is the ability to produce ingenious solutions to the problems which face us every day. It is not some highly intellectual gift, possessed only by a select few, but rather the ability to recognize new applications or adaptations of known principles, tools or techniques. Creative thinking, therefore, is not limited to "way out" ideas, but includes any idea which is new to the thinker himself. Some things which would be routine for one individual or application might be definitely creative on the part of another. An operation which might be commonplace in one industry might be a revolutionary innovation when applied to another. For example, medical researchers at the U. of California, in a definitely creative act, are applying the mathematics and laboratory principles developed in petroleum engineering to study the transportation of oxygen in the blood stream.
Truly creative thinking differs from that used in conventional mathematical or analytical engineering work in that sound conclusions or decisions must be reached even though some facts or data are missing. This type of thinking may not necessarily be logical, since more than one answer is possible. The results depend largely on the thinker's imagination, intuition, initiative, background- knowledge and experience.
There is no such thing as a monopoly on creative ability. We all have some degree of originality and apply this talent to a certain extent. Most of us, in fact, use more creative thinking in our everyday work than we realize. Very few people, however, even research scientists or design engineers, ever exploit their creative abilities to the fullest. Just as there is no such thing as a typical person, there is no stereotype creative engineer. He is not wild-eyed, long-haired, eccentric, nor an egghead, but he does usually possess certain attributes and characteristics which are favorable to creative output. He has imagination and is not afraid to suggest unique ideas. He is relatively dissatisfied with common devices and has ideas for improving them, He is adept at solving unusual problems and is able to visualize new uses for existing objects or techniques.