I believe that we are all creative and have the ability to think and create in any medium of our choice. Whether or not you exercise your creative abilities in your life as a hobby or as a part of your day to day job, those abilities are still there, waiting to be utilized. Creativity and the ability to solve problems is one of my greatest areas of fulfillment. Being creative is also a skill that can be practiced and improved upon throughout one’s life. We never reach that ultimate creative place. That, I think is the greatest thing about creativity. We get the privilege of always getting better. The effort we put into improving our ability to enter the creative state will always be rewarded with new and better ideas.
As humans, though, we all have a set of proverbial glasses through which we see the world. The lenses of those glasses are made up of the experiences and knowledge we have amassed throughout our lives. No matter how hard we try, we always have to look through those glasses.
We can be aware of what our particular biases are and compensate a bit for them when we are working on creative solutions. Our preconceived ideas can negatively affect our ability to be creative as they keep us locked into a particular way of thinking. Truly great ideas come to us when we see much bigger pictures, pictures that are way beyond our own day to day scope of life.
When we question our preconceived notions or the platform we take for granted as fact and reality, we move our creativity upstream closer to the source of the problem we are attempting to solve. It may be that a problem we are looking to solve with a creative solution can be completely eliminated by removing the perceived source of the problem. You can filter polluted water in order to make it drinkable, or you can eliminate the source of the pollution. Both get you clean water. One of those directions may be perceived as harder to achieve than the other, and maybe that is why it rarely is tried, or maybe it is harder to solve because not enough effort has been exerted to uncover solutions. Both could be true.
My point is that when enough creative effort is put into solving a problem, it always gets solved. Questioning the foundations of what is possible is how truly creative ideas start. There needs to be a vision of a possible solution first, and then the technology can be developed to realize that vision. This applies to both small and large scale problems. Sometimes the technology to solve a solution doesn’t arrive until many years later. The vision without the exact solution still has value.
Break your creativity into two parts; the vision of the solution, and then the detail of how you will go about achieving that vision. All problem solving has limitations based on the time and resources you have available to you to solve the problem. If the solution is valuable enough, you can almost certainly generate the resources to pursue it.
There is a tendency to want to approach solving new problems with the thinking of the past. It makes sense that we want to approach creativity using what we know. It can be a way to get started. But creative solutions usually require thinking that is new, or at least a combination of old thinking with new thinking.
The creativity process must be fluid. The process of creativity requires the ability to be nimble in your thinking. The creative process must be both fixed (no problem can be solved without guidelines and criteria guiding the process) and allowed to change in an instant. It must be fixed long enough to get started, to choose a direction, and to address real problems, but the fixed criteria needs to be reevaluated often and changed if it no longer becomes relevant or if it creates more problems than it solves.
Mastery of the basics is required. This is the foundation of all creativity. You cannot be truly creative in our world today without knowing what has come before and without first being proficient at the basics. The often boring and tedious practice and learning of the fundamental knowledge, in any area, needs to be in place before you can consistently generate creative ideas.
If you want to be a creative writer, you need to understand grammar. If you want to be a creative chef, you need to know about how ingredients work together. If you want to be a great musician, you need to practice scales, and so on. Mastery of the basics in any field keeps us from reinventing the obvious and also gives your creative mind fuel with which to soar.
There are a couple of reasons why this is true. One is that the knowledge and mastery of technique allows you to do and come up with ideas that would not have been available to you otherwise. The second is, all that practice and knowledge increases our confidence and helps our minds go into the creative space more easily.
Question the foundations of the problem. Just because it has always been done that way is not always a good enough reason to continue doing it that way. It can be easy to take as fact, certain criteria, and then begin the creative process building upon them. It certainly saves a lot of time to not have to go back and question all that has proceeded. If there was an assumption that was made in the past that is no longer valid, it can send your creative process in the wrong direction.
The worst thing that can happen in any creative process is a dead end, where a series of assumptions leads to a conclusion that does not work. At that point there will be no option other than starting over. That costs valuable time, energy and resources; smaller, more frequent course corrections are always better than fewer, larger ones. Constant questioning of the foundations of your creative endeavor can really help with this.
The world desperately needs more creativity, and everyone can have a part in creating a better place for us to live. Exercise your creative muscle and be amazed at what you can create!
Contact us at www.driveninnovation.com and let us help you develop your next great creative idea!