08 Jun Let’s talk Creativity
This post is also available in Swedish: Låt oss prata om kreativitet
In real life
So, in a business setting when do you need a creativity process? We have used it a lot when we created our vison and the way forward to realise it. Creativity is present in the process when we have free flow, no judgment and a sense that everything is possible. To be part of and experience the process is fantastic. For me creativity is about not to get stuck when you try to solve a problem, easy to say and harder to realise. With training is it possible. I think a skilled painter, floorer etc are constantly in their daily job facing challenges that needs to be solved in a quick and effective way, usually with limited time and resources. It’s here the experience and skillset come into play to match the challenge and creating the right amount of tension that sparks creativity. Just imagine if you could bring that thinking into the way you run your organisation.
I believe a true entrepreneur have a high level of determination and desire to overcome hurdles, solve problems, and complete the job. They are not intimidated by difficult situations. Instead they are triggered and views the impossible only just takes a bit longer. On the contrary if they are faced with a task that is extremely easy or perceived unsolvable they are more likely to give up sooner than others. Usually they are extremely persistent and realistic about what they can do or not.
What is Creativity?
Creativity or problem solving is that something you can command yourself to happen when needed? If you think about creativity is it about art, business, get out difficulty or understand how to navigate in different social situations? Sigmund Freud did define creativity as a process that loses the inner tension between the conscious and unconscious. Later, discussion has been about reaching a cognitive state where mental blockings been lifted. Therefore, several different techniques have been developed to create a state of mind e.g. brainstorming. I think creativity can have many different meanings and for me, in a business setting, is all about solving problems by creating new ideas or finding solutions i.e. be original, carry through and process them. You can do it by yourself or in a team. We are coming to some examples later.
Getting the flow
Flow, when you are in flow then everything seems possible and creativity thrives at its best. However, to reach this flow can be difficult. Flow sits between two extremes that is everything but flow. Let me explain. On one side you have boredom, apathy i.e. too little to do or work that is so under your mental ability or way out of your league. This state is definitely not triggering your creativity. Staying to long in this state will create a state of mind where every effort to do something becomes a big cognitive challenge. On the other side you have stress i.e. too much on your plate and where you don’t see the woods for all the threes and where you don’t have time to think and reflect.
So, in between these two states you have your flow and your most creative state. Here is it like there is no resistance, time is not existing, you know when you are in that state. From a personal point of view flow is driven by two factors, Challenge and Competence. You are developing your motivation and drive in your work when there is a balance between the challenges you accept and your own capability. By taking responsibility, flow and creativity is created. Good to have in mind when you are developing people in your organisation.
Can you train to be creative?
Yes, you can train your creativity. Your brain is like a big muscle that needs training like your thighs and biceps. Image a wire coat hanger and for 2 minutes try to think of as many different things you can use the hanger except hang clothes on it. The first time you do it you will find examples very quickly and usually after half the time you start to struggle to find new examples. When I have run this exercise, it becomes very apparent when people start to lose focus(flow). If you repeat the same exercise later, you will find it much easier to find new applications for the hanger. So, you are training your brain like a muscle exercise.
Then there are other hampering factors that can stop and make it difficult to find your creativity. I like the article by Ashley Smith about the word “should” and the damage it can have on how we think and perceive ourselves and where we are hindering ourselves from being creative and reach the flow.
de Bono and Lateral Thinking
de Bono is one of the most known persons regarding the thinking process and creativity. His most famous methods are lateral thinking and the 6 thinking hats. Lateral thinking is all about looking at a problem from many different angels to find a solution. If you can switch from a familiar pattern to a new, unexpected one, and in that moment of surprise you will generate an insight and ability to see different patterns that initially was not obvious. You can create a twist, hopefully with a laughter, and find solutions you never expected. One tool to use is Spring boarding, where you simply write the problem on top of a paper. The first person then reads the problem statement and straight below the problem writes the solution that comes in mind and pass the paper to the next person that reads the problem statement, the first solution and writes down the solution that comes in mind and pass the paper to the next person and so on. You will find crazy and interesting solution.
The opposite way of lateral thinking is critical thinking which is concerned with judging and looking for faults and errors. This is not about creativity, only to consolidate your own idea or position. Unfortunately, this is not very uncommon in organisations with a non-transparent culture that promotes individual work and achievement.
The 6 hats are a well-known tool that helps you or your team to separate thinking into six clear functions and roles. Each role is identified with a colored symbolic “thinking hat”. This will help you to change focus and redirect thoughts, discussions or manage the meeting.
The hats are:
- The White that is all about the facts and just the facts.
- The Yellow symbolises brightness and optimism. It’s to explore positives and find value/benefits.
- The Black is about judgement – the devil’s advocate. Find problems and why it will not work. Easy to overuse.
- The Red is about feelings, hunches and feelings could be both love and hate.
- The Green is about creativity. Possibilities, alternatives and new ideas.
- The Blue is about manage the process and to give each “Hat” the time needed.
As team exercise it is an excellent tool and superb if you have issues that needs attention. For me it gives everyone the opportunity to get their view heard and put forward without being judged.
The most important feature of the creative process is you are changed, and you are changing.
The 100 squats
How did it go with the 100 squats for 31 days in May? I must tell you that we have a mixed result, all from giving up to fulfilling all days. Let’s see if we revisit the challenge again later in the year.
As always you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org