Thursday, 14 November 2013

5 Tips to boost creativity.

Creativity and innovation are terms that often get confused so here is my own personal take on what the difference is and some ways to help boost your own creative thinking to help you innovate with focus!

Creativity vs. Innovation

The difference as I see it between creativity and innovation is the focus.  

Innovation is about ‘how’ we unlock and apply our creative potential to come up with new ideas. It’s all about focussing our creativity to solve a problem, develop new concepts, products or services. It a process to help us apply creativity for commercial impact and should therefore be measurable, systematic and outcome focused.

Creativity on the other hand is subjective it’s difficult to measure and appears to exist and manifest itself differently in everyone’s very individual mind. Just take a look at how the Art world divides itself around the work of people like Damien Hirst to see how subjective creativity really is.

Theodore Levitt  sums it up nicely when he said
“What is often lacking is not creativity in the idea-creating sense but innovation in the action-producing sense, i.e. putting ideas to work.”

 While many organisations now have systems, approaches and processes to help aid the Innovation capability what is appears to be lacking is the individual’s ability to think creatively at work. Hence many organisations still come up with quite traditional ‘me too’ ideas.

We are all too often constrained by behavioural norms that somehow prevents us from being truly creative between 9 & 5!

Here are a few ways which may help:

 FIVE Top Tips to boost creativity:

Keep your eyes peeled and your ear open!
Being curious, staying connected to the world and what is going on around you is a great starting point for creativity. Seeking out inspiration in what you see is the spark for creative thinking. Likewise read stuff that is outside your comfort zone. For me that’s picking up a magazine about Kite surfing or reading a Financial Times article!

To illustrate the importance of staying connected I will points to fashion designer Paul Smith’s inspiring experience in the Milan airport. Smith had some time to kill as his flight was delayed, but instead of retreating to a quiet seating area, he took a stroll around. A lone bracelet charm which had fallen to the ground caught his eye. He picked it up and decided it would make a beautiful button for a shirt. Smith went on to make 30,000 shirts with that button detail.

Meet new and different people
We often surround ourselves with ‘people like us’ which is great but can also lead us to think along similar wave lengths. Instead seek out people with different opinions, attitudes and experiences. It will open new channels of thinking that you never considered.

Find a new place to let your mind wander:
Find a new place to seek out creativity and inspiration. Open your curtains and stare out into the world and explore somewhere you’ve never been. If you can’t leave your home – surf the internet, read a book or try a different routine for a few days and see what sparks fly.

Allow yourself to have some FUN
Somewhere along the way we adults become serious grown ups. Or like me spend time pretending to be a grown up! We sometimes forget how to play like a child and dont let our sense of fun shine out, especially at work. Creativity isn’t always about discipline, in fact letting your mind forget “the rules” may help you spark creative ideas. Assess your work lifestyle, your home and office and any place where it could use some more whimsy and just get playful.

Don’t allow yourself to get “bullied” into the social norm
You know those voices in your head that say “What would people think if I said that out loud?” Creativity shouldn’t have a limit and often we as people let ourselves get bullied around by our own sub-conscience and feel we have to adhere to the status quo. Instead give yourself permission to be different and to seek creativity in any outlet that feels right for you!
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