To succeed at innovation, you need to cultivate your creative self, as creativity is a driver of innovation. Think of this self as your best you – the you that cannot only can solve “impossible” problems but also embraces them. If you would like more access to that you, then here’s how…
1. You must learn how to defer judgment.
One of the hardest things to do is learn how to defer judgment. The brain is trained to think of the world in terms of black and white, right or wrong, yes or no. If it wasn’t we wouldn’t have survived as a species. But the thinking that kept us safe in the jungle isn’t the same as the thinking we need to be more creative.
Alex Osborne, the “O” in BBDO you might know from the TV series, Mad Men, pioneered the early thinking around brainstorming and its key tenet of deferring judgment. It means ignoring your first thoughts of “how might this not work” when you hear a new idea and instead entertaining the thought of “how might we make this work?”
The surprising thing about deferring judgment is it is much easier to do on other people’s ideas than your own…
We are constantly battling our self-talk, which can include unproductive thoughts like “how can I be so stupid” or “this will never work” or “what a bad idea, I better not say it.” One of the easiest ways to silence the doubts is to learn how to laugh at them.
When you are laughing you are your best self, naturally. You are free, you aren’t worried what the world is thinking about and you are fully in the present moment. So when you want to generate a lot of great new ideas, create an environment that encourages laughter and join right in. You’ll find the ideas will flow.
2. Reverse your assumptions.
Ever come across a lateral thinking puzzle and struggled to see the answer? For example, a man marries twenty women in his village but isn’t charged with polygamy. How did he do it? He’s a pastor…
The reason that was hard to solve was because you were held firmly in the grip of your assumptions and beliefs about how the world is organized. A man who marries must be a husband, until you were forced to challenge that belief – if he wasn’t a husband then what could he be – and then the answer comes easily.
Challenging your assumptions about a creative challenge works much the same way. You can do it on a piece of paper at your desk. On one side write down all your beliefs or “rules” about a problem and then on the other side of the paper one by one – challenge them…
You will quickly begin to see new possibilities and how many ways there are to solve it, becoming instantly unstuck.
3. Make time for incubation.
Let’s face it – generating ideas is hard work. Don’t be afraid to be kind to yourself and take breaks. In fact, use the breaks as an opportunity to “get away from yourself.”
The easiest way is to go for a walk outside, with the added benefit of getting some exercise. Take time to observe the world around you and let your mind drift away from the problem. At worst, you’ll come back feeling energized and refreshed. At best, don’t be surprised if you have an “ah-ha” moment and get a sudden flash of insight into your problem.
These 3 simple techniques don’t take any special training or tools. They simply require a mindset of openness to seeing the world differently. When you do that, you will not only be more creative but you will be at your best.
Paulina Larocca is a Global Innovation Director, author, public speaker and innovation change agent. She has a Masters of Science in Creativity and Change Leadership. You can follow her on http://www.linkedin.com/
profile/view?id=13196645&trk= nav_responsive_tab_profile or on Twitter @Paulina_Larocca
Which tip do you feel is most crucial to thinking creatively? Share with us on Twitter @Attitude4Invtn!