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Insight: Improving Creative Potential

by Randall Craig on April 7, 2017

Filed in: Blog, Content, Make It Happen Tipsheet

Tagged as: ,

 

What is the one rubbish statement that single-handedly limits our creative potential?

“Some people are incredibly creative, and others are not.  I am more analytical than creative.”  Rubbish!

Creativity is a skill to be mastered – not an endpoint of a so-called creative-analytical continuum.

In the interest of providing practical ideas to improve creative performance, here are five “creative” insights that can help:

1) Your Environment: Where do you actually do your work?  Your surroundings have both a direct and indirect impact on how your mind works.  Recently I saw the home office of a marketing and PR professional.  It was a small office, but the wall in front of the desk was painted with special blackboard paint.  On the blackboard were inspirational messages.  And attached to the wall were several candleholders.  For her, this was an inspiring place to work.  While candles aren’t my thing, and they may not be yours, but what is?  How might you change your usual environment to be more inspiring to you?

2) Environmental Change:  Even if you have a “perfect” place to be creative, the sameness of it all doesn’t always inspire.  Try changing to a different desk.  Or change the artwork.  Or put some music on.  Going to a completely different location can give you that new perspective that you need to come up with new ideas.  (In my case, I wrote several of my books this way: One in the public library, one in a hotel in Phoenix by the pool.)

3) Input Change – Knowledge:  Knowledge is nutrition for the mind, and is acquired through experiences:  at work, at school, on not-for-profit boards, and through what you read and watch.  Without new knowledge, thinking patterns will never change – you may be creative, but you only will be tapping a small portion of your potential.  Athletes pay attention to their nutrition… and so should you.

  • What challenging non-fiction books have you recently read?  Which are on your to-be-read list?
  • What “new” professional development have you signed up for?  And what’s on your list?
  • What are you doing “new” on the job?  How many special projects have you solicited?

The more knowledge you have, the more raw material you are working with.

Articles like this are designed to stimulate both of these dimensions.  Effectively, you are procuring for yourself a different knowledge base – mine – and as you read other tipsheets, you are able to use the knowledge profitably.  In other words, you are learning to think differently.

4) Reframing:  Reframing means to look at the challenge from a different perspective: take the challenge, and swap industries, swap roles, swap genders, swap anything.  For example, if you are trying to sell cars, a traditional marketing and sales brainstorm would yield traditional marketing and sales ideas.  But consider the ideas that might come from reframing:

  • How would cell phone companies sell cars?  (Monthly fees, free mileage, local driving zones, bundle with a free phone.)
  • How would Apple sell cars?  (Redesign the car itself, with simple controls, a touch interface, and only available in three colors.  And no negotiating at the dealer – just order online.)
  • How would Gillette, the razor blade company, sell cars?  (Cars would be free… but gas would cost four times what we now pay.)
  • How would a mechanic sell cars?  (Free maintenance forever – a worry-free experience.)

Reframing can also apply to your own problem solving techniques – even for writing tipsheets such as this.  Start with the conclusion, and reverse engineer your ideas.  Use pictures and diagrams.  Write instead of type.  Use a problem-solving framework that you’ve never tried before.  All of these approaches provide different outputs, which can spark even more valuable ideas when shared with others.

5) Remove constraints.  Often the constraints to creativity are in people’s heads – and not in reality.  Removing limiting factors can spark ideas that may have always been discarded “because.”  Some constraints that can be removed:  If budget were no object.  If there were no existing solutions or legacy issues.  If it could be done without a deadline.  If no warranty were required.  And so on.

This week’s action plan: Next time you need to spend time thinking by yourself, change your environment, change your inputs, reframe, and remove constraints.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com
:  Professional credentials site
www.108ideaspace
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
www.ProfessionallySpeakingTV.com
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders

 

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Have you ever seen a mistake in someone else’s blog or social media post?  Or maybe you’ve been a victim of this yourself?  It could be a simple typographical or grammatical error, a case of misattribution, or a more serious case of factual error.

Unfortunately, it happens far too often, for some very obvious reasons:

  1. Some content is dictated and the speech-t0-text software sometimes gets it wrong.
  2. Editing is done in a cursory fashion, or sometimes, not at all.
  3. Fact-checking, a staple of traditional publications, is rarely done for online content.  (And it is rarely done for traditionally published content either.)
  4. A post relies on a third party for facts, when, in fact, the third-party’s content may not be correct, or worse, the third party site may have relied on yet a different non-corroborated third-party source.

A few examples:

  • In a post entitled Six Top Thought Leadership Articles, there was some text that incorrectly said, “Here are sex posts that explore these concepts.”  The feedback was instantaneous (and a bit embarrassing).
  • In a recent Facebook post, I “quoted” the very prolific Albert Einstein, who said “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.”  Unfortunately, Einstein actually never said this.  (Hat tip to Larry Goldberg and others who pointed this out.)  In this case, we relied on third-party sites, who relied on other third-party sites within the world web web echo chamber.

Mistake repair strategy:

  1. When quoting a person, whether they are alive or dead, double-check the accuracy beforehand.  www.quoteinvestigator.com is a great place to start.
  2. Edit the post if possible.  If not, add a comment acknowledging the error.
  3. If the post is of lower value, and there are no comments attached to it, delete it entirely.
  4. As a courtesy, circle back to the source of the error and advise them of any necessary changes.

This week’s action plan:  The fact that errors do creep in begs the question of the quality of your content editing and review process.  This week, consider whether any of your errors were random or can be traced back to a systemic issue:  is it time to upgrade your editing process? Or add some fact-checking?

Can you find the error in this post?  Yes, there is an error in this post – did you happen to see it? Look for “speech-t0-text” within the post: the word “to” is spelled with a zero instead of an “o”.

Finally, a hat tip to the talented Daniel Wolgelerenter, a professional editor and copywriter, for going through earlier versions of this post.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com
:  Professional credentials site
www.108ideaspace
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
www.ProfessionallySpeakingTV.com
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders

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