Parents worldwide often wonder about their child’s creativity. From believing that their child is naturally creative to trying to find ways to enhance their creativity, it’s always something they are worried about.
Let’s take the following question – Can creativity be taught?
Research done on the matter suggest that creativity is a skill that can be taught, and even assessed. Some people, however, believe that creativity already lies within all of us, and you just have to find ways to ignite the creative spark.
Perhaps the question shouldn’t be about creativity’s nature vs. nurture status; but rather something else, entirely. Instead of pondering over ways to ‘teach’ creativity, we should be focusing on ways to encourage creativity. This need becomes even more profound in case of workplace culture and organisational growth. This is because creative teams are more likely to produce better results. Unconventional solutions can help companies overcome unprecedented challenges and unpredictable market conditions, with better ease.
To that end, below are some suggestions for leaders and employers to encourage the creative spirit in their employees.
At the first glance, this one may seem counterintuitive. How will taking the Employees out of the workplace help nurture creative skills for their work? But, just as it is with taking vacations, creative minds also need to experience breaks from the monotony of the daily grind.
Take employees out of the office for a get together in the park, or even try working from that café across the street. You’ll be surprised at the ideas new surroundings and a little observation can help spark.
Again, what? I thought we were supposed to be working here! Well you are. Play is an extremely important part of work. We at FocusU whole-heartedly believe in experiential learning and a vital element to this is fun. Whether it’s for the sheer enjoyment of a new experience, or you like to mix fun and learning, there is always something new to try. The point is whether you take your team for a fun round of paintball or unleash their musical side, trying something fun, new, and different really has the potential to change your view of the world around you
Although this one may seem obvious, take a second to really think about it. If employees feel balanced, they will have the time to devote to things that interest them. Creativity can come from anything, be it something you love or something you hate, but chances are you’ll find you are more creative while doing something you enjoy. Thus, if employees have time to spend doing things they enjoy, they’ll have the brain space and energy to think freely at work. Freethinking can lead to some very unique thoughts. Needless to say there are some beneficial byproducts to this as well – productivity and general quality of life will also improve.
Let’s say you, as a leader, are doing everything you can to help encourage creativity within your team members. What else can you do to ensure that your efforts pay off? Just like with any other skill, a little self-motivation and additional efforts on your part can also come in handy. After all, creativity is as personal as the toothbrush we use.
To this end, let’s talk about one of the most well known books on creativity.In the book Zig Zag, author R. Keith Sawyer lays out an 8-point model for actively working to develop creativity. In fact, Sawyer rejects the idea of a creative spark. Instead of an instantaneous burst of light or divine insights, creative ideas are actually developed and pieced together, over time. Just as it is with overnight success, creativity is also the result of hard work, time, and consistent efforts.
What’s even more interesting is that, this framework doesn’t come with any rules. Forget about following it in a linear fashion, rather zig-zag your way through it to find your own pace.
The secret to finding the perfect answer is in asking the right questions. Einstein once famously said,
“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask… for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”
Such is the power of asking the right questions. Wrong question will not only left you confused but also, can be a colossal waste of time. This become seven more critical when it comes to taking business decisions that are often, time sensitive.
The more you learn, the more knowledge you have to work with, play with, and finally mould it into an idea. Learn about your own field; master your discipline. At the same time, balance your work with interests outside of your area of expertise; you never know when your knowledge of another discipline will come in handy.
Looking isn’t just about ‘seeing.’ But, rather It’s about how you interpret, connect the dots, and also about being open to new ideas. Once you develop an idea, there is a danger of wanting to preserve the idea and thus not being open to changes and ultimately, improvements.
Most innovative solutions often come from discarded ideas, failed projects, or solutions intended for a completely different problem. That’s why it is important to believe in the power of play. Never discard an idea completely.
Additionally, the importance of taking a break from work is undeniable. Allowing yourself to play helps your mind synthesise all the information gathered in the looking and learning phases.
Productivity is the key to creativity. The more you create and do, the better your chances are of you ending up with a winner.
Ideate, share, and record your thoughts. Maybe nothing will come of your thoughts or ideas immediately, but keeping a thought notebook can spark a new train of thought in the future, taking you down a different path.
When you bring elements together in fusion, often magic happens. The most interesting, creative, inventive, and often successful inventions happen when tow unlikely ideas fuse together. Try bringing extremely different elements together. The more odd and dissimilar they seem, the better.
Know when to pursue something and when to trash something. This doesn’t mean that an idea cannot be re-purposed, but instead you need to re-prioritising your current agenda. Good creators are also good judges. They don’t waste tons of time on an idea they know isn’t right and they can see when an idea has potential.
We often think that the ideas present themselves fully formed, and manifesting them it into a physical product, comes later. But it’s been proven that active making and tinkering, should precede the ideation process.
Ideation is a process that moves back and forth between steps, not a linear progression from idea to design. Sketch it, build it, reflect on it, then go it again – this lies at the core of design thinking.
While Sawyer’s zig zag approach sounds time consuming and difficult, it is known to be highly effective in the long run. Putting in the time and work can seem like a daunting task. But Sawyer has broken down the method into small manageable ideas and approaches for implementation.
If you feel stuck in a creative rut, let us take the theoretical and make it experiential by customizing an innovation workshop for your team, today. Also, do let us know which of these points resonated the most with you.