Creativity can feel like the elusive skill that everyone desires but no one has a simple method for obtaining. Yet rather than dismissing creativity as something which “you either have or you don’t,” taking the time to learn methods to boost your creativity is a valuable use of your time.
1. TRAIN YOUR BRAIN THROUGH PATTERN RECOGNITION
We all notice the fog that can quickly descend if we do not work our brains on a daily basis, but this does nothing for our ability to think creatively. Using tools to stimulate the brain can prove a useful contribution to enhancing our capacity to employ creativity in our daily work.
Pattern recognition is one such way to enhance creativity. According to an article by Forbes contributor Deep Patel ‘one way to foster creativity is through recognizing patterns in what we observe.’ This doesn’t have to be patterns found in art, but can also include patterns in maths, nature and even literature, as it is our capacity for recognition which is most valuable, not the source from which it comes.
2. CREATE SOMETHING EVERY DAY
Just as it is conventional wisdom that writers must write every day if they are to become masters of their art, individuals looking to be creative must employ these skills daily. Ernest Hemingway used to swear by such methods, and so innovators can learn a thing or two from professionals in other fields.
Creative Corporate Culture’s blog suggests ‘creat[ing] something every day, even if it’s only for 5 or 10 minutes.’ This can be anything from writing articles, drawing mind maps in meetings, developing business models and concepts or even simply collecting ideas for future projects.’ When creating and creativity become habits, the task will not seem as daunting when it is really demanded.
3. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH DIVERSITY
The case for diversity in the workplace is multifaceted, but the effect on creativity is also a valuable reason for creating diverse teams.
According to Harvard Business Review (HBR) it is often said that when ‘it comes to generating a wider range of original and useful ideas’ diverse teams perform better. HBR suggests that ‘it would therefore make sense for organizations to increase diversity in teams that are focused on exploration or idea generation.’
The important thing to remember about using diversity to fuel creativity is that it must go deeper than surface level. While things like gender, age and racial diversity are important, psychological diversity such as personality, values and abilities actually has greater impact on creativity levels among teams.
4. WORK ON A 70/20/10 RULE
One of the major challenges when it comes to being creative is having the time to devote to such endeavours. If you wait until you happen to have time to be creative, it is almost inevitable that this time will never come.
This is why many CEOs and managers whose job requires them to be creative actively set aside time to factor this into their day. According to an article by Campaign Live, reducing productivity from 100% to 70% is one way of doing so because it frees up 30% of your time for ‘responsiveness and over-and-above thinking.’ The article explains:
‘70% is focused on the essential, delivering against the brief, 20% on the evolutionary, adding additional value to the brief and 10% on the extraordinary, identifying and developing ideas that will revolutionise our client’s businesses.’
5. GET SOME PERSPECTIVE
While working on your latest idea it is easy to get sucked into the all-consuming rush of a new project or the next big phase. Yet sometimes stepping away from whatever it is that you are working on can prove beneficial and actually increase your creativity.
For Inc.com, one way to do this is to use the Six Thinking Hats technique. Arguing that ‘sometimes you just need to start over, forget everything and begin anew with a blank slate - break it down using six different coloured "thinking hats”. This process allows you to look at the problem or idea from a variety of angles, for example in a ‘"just the facts" manner (white hat); where things could go wrong (black hat); and possibilities, alternatives, and new ideas (green hat).’ In doing so innovators can gain some welcome perspective on their task and make sure that they are being as creative as possible in their solutions.
Whatever it is that you are working on, there is no reason to believe that your creativity cannot be constantly honed, developed and employed if you allow the time, space and mental capacity needed to make it one of your strongest skills.
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