There are many instances today of people being creative. Be it through art, music, work, technology or science, creativity is a constant as much as change is. People finding new and different ways to express themselves and to find new solutions to old and new problems.
In the context of work, though, we seem to have lost practise in being creative.
Ask anyone at work what they enjoy doing in their spare time, and almost inevitably it will be described in a way which allows them to be creative, experience creativity or allows them a place to excel in some way.
I spend a lot of my time finding ways to inject a sense of creativity into how people work and what they experience. What I’m conscious of, always, is that I have to follow a set of principles.
The first is to be really clear about the problem we’re trying to solve. Sounds almost obvious, but without a clear brief, you could end up designing a solution for the wrong problem. Getting clarity on the problem, then, is vital.
Next is to find out what’s currently happening. Be it through data gathering, data intelligence, anecdotes or otherwise, I need to have a sense of what already exists. After all if the system works, why break it?
What this also informs me is what are the constraints in place. These constraints are vital to being creative. Constraints – perceived and real – are what can be broken and constraints are what we often circumvent when reaching a new solution.
For me what happens next is where life gets interesting. Once I understand the problem, what works and what constraints are in place, that’s when I can start challenging the norm. That’s when I can start inviting ideas. That’s when creativity happens.
I can start to use tools and techniques as simple as brainstorming to advanced techniques like Six Thinking Hats. Regardless of the tool I use, it’s about the environment I’ve created for creativity to happen.
My final principle I believe in is that good ideas can come from anyone. A lot of people will claim they haven’t got a creative bone in their body. That’s because they’ve been told to not be creative in pretty much their entire adult life. Create the right environment for it to happen though and everyone can contribute. Doesn’t mean everyone has to come up with a solution, but it does mean everyone can provide insight and advice on how to make something happen.
There are whole job titles and companies set up in helping unleash creativity in different ways. Kudos to them. The problem every organisation faces is how to enable creativity in useful and progressive ways internally.
And I’ll let you into a secret. It’s not about taking the team on a team building day to experience creativity. It’s about facilitating it to happen in your work environment.