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Creativity

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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The Power of Diversity

by Randall Craig on October 14, 2016

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Strategy

Tagged as: , ,

The term diversity has become associated with the human rights movement, and lives in the same space with terms such as enforcement, quotas, and affirmative action.  Despite these seemingly negative terms, there is a powerful case for organizations to adopt a positive and proactive approach to diversity.

The usual argument for diversity is that an organization should mirror society in general, and its clients in specific.  While true, the greatest benefit of diversity does not stem from this argument, but from another: the creative power of a diverse team.

A diversity exercise:  If you have a pen and paper, right now, draw a picture of a house.  Even if you’re not an artist, you can draw something.  Then look at what you drew:  Does it include windows?  How many? A door?  How about a roof?  Did it have a second floor?  Did you draw it in 3D?  Did you use shading?  Or color?

Each of us probably did it differently.  But if we compared our pictures, and then re-drew it, we likely will include all of the features that were drawn by others.  This is the power of brainstorming, and particularly, the power of diversity.

Each individual brings their own experience, resulting in the group’s knowledge base growing significantly.  A different perspective from one person can spark an incredibly rich response from others.  For this reason, teams that seek diversity – not homogeneity – will always be more creative.

Diverse thinking produces diverse results.

This week’s action item: Try the diversity exercise with your team.  What were the results?

Creative Insight:  Diversity is not a negative term, especially compared to terms like groupthink, conventional wisdom, towing the line, etc.

Interesting Trivia:  While IBM’s motto for many years has been Think, Apple’s motto was Think Different.  Might there be a connection to diversity?

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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11 ways to build creativity into brainstorming

by Randall Craig September 30, 2016

Many leaders find themselves faced with the difficult task of harnessing their team’s creativity to solve challenging problems.  Yet so often, group brainstorming yields little or no significant benefits.  Why? Sometimes it is a question of facilitation skills.  Sometimes a lack of creative process.  But often it is because of one key fact that is […]

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Creative Time and Place

by Randall Craig October 3, 2014

How can you be your most creative? Google the topic and you will find millions of pages with an answer. Some will say you are “born” with it. Others will say it is a matter of following a process.  And others will claim it is a matter of using a secret sauce formula, which, when […]

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Blog Content Creation: Idea seeding

by Randall Craig March 7, 2014

Have you ever spent time staring at your blank screen, wondering what your next blog post should be about, then staring at the clock, stressing about the looming deadline.  While it’s tempting to think of this problem as writer’s block, it is really a question of process. Idea seeding is a process for blog content […]

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Crowdsourcing

by Randall Craig July 20, 2012

How often have you run into a creative roadblock? Or you were stumped with a problem that you couldn’t figure out? When this happens, we are usually operating under a conventional wisdom that artificially closes the door to possibility. To break the block, one need only ask for help from ever-widening circles: colleagues, community, and […]

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Creativity Rules

by Randall Craig July 28, 2010

Have you ever found yourself in a position where you’re asked to be “instantly” creative? Maybe in a staff meeting? Or a client who is in trouble and needs a clever way out immediately? Or maybe you’re writing a report, and you’ve got writer’s block? If this happens to you, you’re not alone. Here are […]

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