I like to think that creativity is the ability to generate new and useful ideas and solutions to everyday problems and challenges. It’s the ability to take existing objects and combine them in different ways for new purposes. Traditional organizations often simply “make room” for creativity. But forward thinking organizations (like yours- right?!) create a culture around it. They don’t simply support the use of creativity, they embrace it as a significant output of the organization.
Most people love mastery. When it is achieved, we rest on our laurels and continue to do things in a routine and efficient fashion. Why bother to innovate if there is little time and no toleration for risk or error? After all, things seem to be working fine as they are. BUT the excitement of innovation, discovery and creation is often the very thing that is missing from our work.
A Skill Set
Think of creativity as a skill set. By practicing, you can get better at it. Creativity requires patience and a willingness to work for a creative outcome rather than simply waiting for enlightenment (AKA lightening to strike).
• Learn about creativity techniques. You can find this information in books, at conferences, from other people, from software and from the Internet. Spend time with people who you think are creative and ask them how they do it. There is no one right answer and many paths to creativity.
• Surround yourself with people who respect you and encourage you to take risks.
• Celebrate your progress in reaching your creative goals (and partial goals too).
• Start thinking of yourself as a creative person. Learn the skills of creativity, act creatively every chance you get and find places amd people environments that support creative behavior.
Here is an example of a practical program to improve creativity:
1. Set a measurable goal.
- Find at least 40 ideas for improvements to a product or service.
2. Set up criteria to indicate whether or not you have reached your goal.
- The ideas are novel.
- The ideas are useful.
- The ideas can be implemented within an appropriate timeframe and budget.
You can enhance your creative output by providing yourself a special thinking time and/or place. Perhaps the couch in the lobby of the building where you work or a corner of a room at home where you can indulge yourself listening to soothing music. Maybe it’s when you go running in the morning, or while taking up yoga, mediation, tai-chi or some similar meditative activity. Sometimes simply becoming involved in children’s activities such as jig-saw puzzles (for spatial thinking), building blocks, drawing with crayons and role-playing/acting can aid the creative thinking process
Remember, creativity is not a gift — it’s a state of being. Learning techniques that enhance your creativity will provide you with some useful tools, but it will not automatically change your point of view. Your creativity myths must change as well. But with a little creativity, all that will change!