Are we all creative? I always say that creativity can be learned. You have to think of it as if it were a muscle – something that we can exercise every day, and strengthen through new techniques and original resources. We can and should be creative every day. We should work to improve our creativity by recognizing obstacles, training perceptions, looking at things differently, playing with ideas and facing challenges with a positive attitude.
Why didn’t I think of that myself?
Launching a successful start-up business, imagining a different type of business, solving a problem connected with sales or with a particular product, or seeking alternatives to a service – for all of these, we need to believe in the power of imagination, of the idea. That’s why creativity in business is needed more than ever before. It’s important to be aware of our creativity, and to place it at the service of the team and the organisation so as to obtain better results.
From the topmost executive to the most junior employee, the whole organisation should know how to use the various techniques and creative tools that help to identify ideas, improve processes and create new services and/or new products. Today, creativity constitutes the main competitive advantage in companies.
The Tool Kit
Objective: to instigate a culture of creativity in the organisation. To ask questions which force the employees to question themselves, because every challenge demands that we respond with originality, flexibility and great creativity. Below, we give examples of ways of boosting proactivity in the daily creativity of the company.
- Recognize obstacles
Tell your team that you have a problem and that you are looking for a solution. The starting-gun for creativity should fire at that very moment. It is now a question of each person seeking a solution, so that various solutions are found for the same problem. And remember: don’t dismiss ideas out of hand, because the solution could appear from where you least expect it.
- Promote creativity
Be receptive to any idea. It is also important to give public recognition to those who offer their creative ideas, whether they were feasible or not. This is of fundamental importance when promoting initiative.
- Plan for creative incubation
Some ideas spring up alone, but others – many – have to be nurtured, fused, connected, manipulated and allowed to mature. Ideas are never discarded, they are stored up. Explaining this will produce better synergy. The more the initiative, the better the ideas.
- Use stimulating, positive phrases
Identifying expressions which kill creativity, and not saying anything to their perpetrators, does not help at all. Examples are: “I don’t like that idea”, “I can’t see it at all”, “that has already been tried, and it didn’t work”, “the system wouldn’t accept it”, “it would be too costly”. These should be changed for other, more positive comments which stimulate the creative process.
- Don’t stick rigidly to the first idea
As we said earlier, creativity is like a muscle. It’s not sufficient to lift a weight only once – the more you exercise the muscle, the better. Seek alternatives, and write down as many ideas as possible, without assessing them. And finally, among them all, add, remove, extend, connect, separate, mix, join them again, and decide on the best solution to the initial problem.
- Imagine the “opposite solution”
Very often, the exact opposite is what we are seeking. Examples of the “opposite solution” are “delivery to your home” and “distance-learning”, which today is known as “on-line education”. Instead of the student going to the educational centre, it is the centre that “comes” to the student.
Techniques for a creative company
A company that wants to be creative must hold regular meetings to train creativity through games, dynamics and other resources so as to obtain different ideas and a more effective search for alternatives. Let’s look at some of the best-known techniques:
This technique is the most familiar of all. It consists of holding sessions in which ideas are offered acritically by a maximum of 12 participants, and judgement is deferred. The aim is to obtain as many ideas as possible in a limited period. It is important to write down absolutely everything, and to promote even the craziest of ideas.
This is a highly inspirational technique based on the generation of ideas from visual stimuli. Participants intuitively select a photograph of a classical painting (a Dali, a Goya, a van Gogh, un Miro, or any other) and then begin to generate ideas using questions, analogies and associations.
This is a creative technique that is used to reconsider, or think beyond, an idea or a product which already exists but which does not convince us. Participants have to use their imagination and follow these seven steps: “Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to other uses, Eliminate & Reverse”.
- Map of Ideas
This is a diagram created from one or more ideas that we interconnect using logic. Using ‘Post-its’, one positions the main idea in the centre and progressively adds secondary ideas around it. It’s a very powerful creative technique because it maps, defines, helps to find new relationships and achieves impressive results.
- Map of Empathy
This is an amazing creative technique by which, in a very simple manner, you can identify the profile of your client or customer. All you need to do is to ask appropriate questions with your mind focused on that person while you try to penetrate deep into their thinking.
- Do It
This technique graphically describes the processes that are useful for directing our thinking towards correct solutions. The name of the technique, “DO IT”, is an abbreviation of the following words: Define, Open, Identify & Transform. These four words organise a procedure which emphasises the need to define problems, open one’s mind, identify the best solution and transform it into effective action, as if it were a catalyst.
Author: Joan Margarit, a Marketing and Communication analyst.