Most businesses are designed to solve some type of problem; for example, selling a product that allows people to do something they would otherwise not be able to do, or selling a service that makes someone’s life easier. Inherently, personal and organisational success is contingent on the ability to solve problems effectively, and one of the best tools to doing so is through creativity. Creativity allows you to think in new ways, and come up with strategies that are not conventional. To improve your ability to think creatively, consider these activities and tools which will help you think outside the box and bring new ideas to intransigent challenges.
- Disconnect to Connect
Do your best ideas come when you’re occupied by seemingly mindless tasks such as driving, jogging, showering? When we’re engaged in these tasks, our subconscious minds get a chance to wander freely and make random connections. This is where most of our creative thinking breaks through. Still, roughly 30% of Singaporeans say they don’t know how to relax and ‘do nothing’, according to a recent survey.
Hence, you’ll need to be the exception to the rule if you want to unlock your creativity. Put your phone, tablet, headphones away and go for long walks. Instead of putting on a playlist or podcast when driving or doing chores, let your mind wander. You never know, you might just be rewarded with the power of new ideas!
2. Develop a Positive Mindset
Studies suggest that people are more creative when they’re in a good mood. So if you want to enhance your creativity, cultivate a positive mindset. There are many life hacks, or scientifically proven ways, that can make you happy. Whether it’s exercising, sleeping more, spending more time with friends or family, or helping others – even the smallest things that make you happy can improve your ability to come up with fresh and innovative ideas. If you’re brainstorming ideas as a team, kick things off with an exercise that makes everyone smile and get into the spirit of working together. A little icebreaker works wonders in leading your team to generate twice as many ideas.
3. Diversity Matters More Than You Think
Consider the Medici Effect – the creative explosion that triggered after the wealthy Medici family brought some of the world’s most accomplished scientists, artists and philosophers together in 15th century Florence. Ultimately, Florence became the birthplace of some of history’s most iconic works of art and groundbreaking ideas. The amalgamation of diverse disciplines and idiosyncratic ideas sparked some of the greatest breakthroughs in human thinking.
Companies should not just strive for diversity between human interactions, but also incorporate a diverse range of experiences to maximize creativity. You could be trying out a new cooking class, picking up a book you wouldn’t normally read, or learning how to play a new instrument. This is the kind of diversity that paves the way for innovation. For example, Steve Jobs audited a calligraphy class in college, which he later credited as the inspiration behind Apple’s beautiful typography. So while you may not be able to connect the dots moving forward, the connection between your arbitrary experience and an innovative creation becomes clear looking backwards.
4. Change Up Your Surroundings, Even Minimally
Creativity ‘nudges’ can come from changes as small as a warmer cup of coffee or different colours in the room. Switch up some items on your desk or sit on the opposite side of your desk. Work in different areas of the office, sit with new colleagues while working or have lunch with them. Whatever you choose to do, changing around your physical and social surroundings can provide a significant creativity boost.
5. Diverge and Converge Your Thinking
Creativity is distinguished as novelty, and two broad processes that allow this are divergent and convergent thinking. In divergent thinking, we generate a stream of both good and bad ideas without thinking of any constraints or other possibilities. With convergent thinking, we evaluate ideas to reach acceptable conclusions.
If you’re looking for creative ideas, divergent thinking needs to come first. Just like turning on a dirty tap, you need to let out all the dirty water, or bad ideas, before clean water flows –just like a stream of good ideas.
|Test your divergent thinking skills: |
1. Find an object that is closest to you.
2. Set a timer for 2 minutes.
3. Write down as many uses for that object as you can think of – be as silly as you like, write down every bad idea as well.
4. Once the 2 minutes are up, look through your list and see how many creative uses you were able to come up with for the object.
Amplifying Creative Problem Solving
Creativity doesn’t just play an important role in your personal life, but in your work life as well. The next time you’re having a tough time navigating around a problem, use one (or more, if not all!) of the techniques outlined in this post. Over time, creative modes of thinking will become more natural and you’ll be able to present novel solutions to the challenges you may face regularly.