Creative Business Thinking: Unleash Those Creative Forces
Creativity is a natural skill that gets rusty when not used. Like playing a musical instrument, or a sport, some people seem naturally talented whilst others have to practice more to develop their skill. For many people there may be creative blocks to overcome.
Left-brain dominance has been long respected in organizations for its logic, reason and rationality.
Creativity however requires the services of the right side of our brain that thinks outside the logical square. As a child we used our right brain to create dragons from cardboard boxes, and it is this type of thinking we need for challenges requiring creativity.
Three Limiting Beliefs
The primary blocks to our creative potential seem to originate from the limiting beliefs of a left-brain world:
- I am not creative
- It’s not okay to be creative round here
- I don’t know how to be creative
Ideas to overcome limiting beliefs
#1 – I’m not creative
A positive belief in your creative talent is essential. Recall how many times you have been creative, even in small ways. You may not have thought about creativity in this way before, but most people soon begin to realize how often they have been creative outside the work context. As a child your imagination was at its peak. The innocent and free creative thinking you had as a child can be rekindled and put to use for your grown-up situations. As a small child you had very few opinions about the world. Rigid opinions and quick judgments stifle creative thinking, so free your mind to have different thoughts and accept that there are many ways of perceiving a situation.
#2 – It’s not okay to be creative here
Having learned to be creative you need the courage to do things differently. This may mean breaking rules and conventions, the barriers to creativity in your workplace. It means being a leader and a role model, and encouraging others to be creative with you. Stepping outside an organization’s cultural norms can be a little scary, but there will be others who share the desire to be more creative and who may also be willing to share the risk. With a balance of left and right brain thinking our workplaces can be more conducive to the generation of creative ideas.
#3 – I don’t know how
Developing creativity is the same as developing any skill. You have to learn about it and practice it regularly. Curiosity is a good place to begin. Samuel Johnson once said ‘curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect’. More than anything else, creativity is an attitude of mind which is developed through a curiosity to see things from different perspectives and to connect things from different contexts.
Think of two totally unconnected things and make a link between them, no matter how ridiculous the link may be. This is exactly what the inventor of cats’ eyes in the road did – he made a connection between the cat and road safety. This is one of many techniques you can use to exercise your creative mind.
There is also an abundance of media, seminars, courses and consultants to help you develop creative thinking. This process of learning brings the changes you need for thinking and acting in ways that create new ideas and options for you and your organization.
Leading organizations are learning how to develop initiative and flexibility in their teams. They are accepting mistakes as a route to good ideas and acknowledging the greater potential, which can be realized by having a supportive and sharing culture.
These beliefs connect people at a deep level in an organization and are the basic building blocks to developing a creative culture. The key structural change they are making is in the development of flexible, multi-disciplinary teams where the output of creative ideas and productivity can be represented by the equation 1 + 1 = 3.
Developing a flexible team structure is often the most challenging stage in the pursuit of a creative culture that is embraced by employees as a way of life. To achieve this people need to be engaged up-front in decision-making and fully involved in day-to-day improvements to operations.
What are organizations doing to harness creativity?
What are organizations doing to harness creativity? Organizations are embracing a wide range of options in their quest for creativity. Simple and structured techniques like brainstorming and mind mapping are commonly favored as creative tools for quality programs.
Creative inspiration is also being drawn from many other contexts. The Walt Disney strategy for example is based upon the creative process Walt used to produce his most successful animated films and consists of three stages:
- Dreamer– the playful state of generating new ideas
- Realist – putting reality into ideas and selecting the most appropriate
- Critic – looking at details for ways to improve an idea
Dreamers prefer to generate ideas while Realists prefer a more pragmatic approach to creativity. Critics enjoy checking the small details of others’ ideas. Respecting these differences and bringing people together as multi-disciplinary teams makes a highly creative and effective team.
A leading news and financial information organization with thousands of staff worldwide used a theme of ‘working fast’ in an effort to keep pace with technology and competition. They held running races in every corner of the globe at exactly the same time, challenging staff teams across the world to compete against each other. Employees were also rewarded when they presented creative ideas of how they could work faster as an entire organization.