There are a lot of necessary skills to have these days in order to thrive at this game of life. The ability to think creatively, when you want and where you want, will be one of the most valuable. As more and more tasks are taken over by computers, those that are truly creative and operate at a high level will be the indispensable ones among us. They will be the ones that solve the world’s problems. They will be the ones building new companies and they will be the ones with job security in the next decade and beyond.
There are so many ways to be creative. There are so many areas to be creative. There is one common denominator. All creativity requires coming up with something new that cannot be gleaned just from straight logical thinking. True creativity requires thinking that is greater than the sum of the parts.
If creativity is so important, how can we be more creative? How can we live a life where creativity flows out of us like a rushing waterfall? I believe that we are all creative as human beings. Some of us have learned to tap into that creativity more than others. Creativity is like a muscle and the more you use it the better it gets. Here are a few things I have done over the years to improve my creativity.
Create parameters – Staring at that blank sheet of paper is intimidating. If you have a tight deadline where you have to have a particular creative solution complete, it can seem even more daunting. Confidence and belief that you can do it can really help here. If you don’t have that confidence though, what can you do?
The first place I start is to set parameters. When you begin any creative process, the overabundance of options can cause paralysis. It makes sense. With almost limitless possibilities, where do you begin? Everything you put on that white sheet of paper seems wrong.
Parameters allow the brain to work within certain requirements, and that makes it easier to get started. It doesn’t always matter if the parameters you set are the right ones or not. You can change them, modify them, and refine them once you get started. The trick is to get started. Once you get on a roll with your creative thinking, all kinds of great things start happening.
Momentum is required to get the creative ideas flowing, and the blank sheet of paper is the enemy to that momentum. I have done this process of setting parameters so much in my career, that I set them in my head without even realizing it.
Start with the obvious solutions – Once you have some parameters in place, the best thing to do to keep the momentum going is to start with the obvious ideas first. It doesn’t matter that you will probably throw all those ideas out. What matters is that you are generating ideas. Often after a bit of time generating the obvious solutions, you will begin to notice that interesting or useful ideas start to surface. You can then built on those ideas or explore concepts around them.
Establish the main goals – With any problem that needs solving with a creative solution, there will be many different goals. Some of them will be contradictory goals. Not all goals are equal in importance either. Knowing how to organize the goals in terms of their priority or importance in the final solution is the key to structuring the creative process. It can be difficult to, not only list out all the possible goals, but to then order them in importance.
How you organize your goals will dictate where the creative process will end up. You can list the pros and cons of each goal and use those results as a way to determine the order of importance. The problem with making too many goals have top priority is that the ultimate solution will lack focus as it tries to achieve too much.
Break the problem that you are trying to solve into smaller pieces – Often large or complicated problems that need creative solutions can be solved by breaking them up into parts. Not all parts of a problem directly affect each other, or maybe only slightly overlap. By isolating them, they can be solved more easily. Once you have solutions for separate parts of your problem, the parts can be reassembled and evaluated on how well they work together.
Hard effort is not the same as smart effort - It is possible to work really hard and not get anywhere. You can even go backwards. Hard work is not the foundation for successful creativity, smart work is. Unless you build a foundation for your creative thinking process which you practice over and over again, you will continue to struggle with hit or miss creative sessions, never knowing when that blank page syndrome will take you out. Each step in the creative process needs to be learned, mastered, and then built upon in order to improve. It’s how we master anything in life!
Creativity is a lifelong process that one can always improve upon. I personally believe that being creative is one of our greatest gifts. And the fact that you might be able to use that gift to solve one of the world's pressing problems, well that is even better.
Contact us at www.DrivenInnovation.com, and let us help you develop your new product idea to a successful prodcution solution.