A few weeks ago, on World Creativity & Innovation Day, I had an interesting conversation with a client that started with a blanket statement – that frankly made me chortle. “Oh, I don’t have a creative bone in my body. I leave that to the …” (naming a single team within the organisation?)
Considering the staggering amount of research that points directly to the fact that we are all ‘hard-wired’ toward being creative, sometimes I think we just need a reminder… Just a bit of a push to reignite our creative confidence. Here is a list of actions we, as individuals, can take to ensure we have the best chance to be creative, and reach our full potential – although I’m not actually sure that there is an endpoint to be reached.
- Be curious. Acquire knowledge. Embrace new experiences and information. Be a generalist. Pay attention to things around you and learn new skills that take you out of your comfort zone. Be excited to learn… about anything!
- Embrace failure. Revel in the experience of failure and make sure you look at any failure, yours, and others’, from many different perspectives.
- Be disciplined. Don’t let your mind be lazy. Look beyond the easiest answer or solution. Push yourself to come up with the extra 20 potential solutions, even if you know that most will be discarded.
- Look beyond your ego. Follow the old adage, ‘walk a mile in their shoes’. Look at the situation or problem from another perspective – really take on the persona of someone else and think about how they would think about this problem. The ‘What would [name] do?” really works. Whether that name is Melinda Gates, Albert Einstein, Madonna, or Jesus – even if you don’t agree with their philosophy or way of life – taking on the persona of someone else while you think about a problem or challenge, brings you to another reality and opens your mind to other possibilities.
- Look for incremental improvements. Ask, “If there was only 1 thing that we could improve (change, remove, reverse, …) in this process (activity, report, job, …) what would it be?” or “What 2 or 3 things could we combine to improve this system (perspective, strategy, …) to make it better?”
A recent article by Fast Company is an elegant illustration of some of these strategies. The idea started with a random comment at a breakfast. It brought together information about terrible animal cruelty with new genetic technology and will not only create a more humane solution for a problem plaguing a low-margin industry, but improve economics as well.