We are fascinated by creativity. It seems to be an elusive asset, allocated to a small, fortunate portion of the general population. Its definition and measure seems to be just as fleeting- what is it?
A researcher would ponder how to map it neurologically or when it is stimulated. In business, you look for it in leadership and strategy. Take IBM, who interviewed over 1,500 leaders across 60 countries. 65% of them cited creativity as the most important leadership quality.
As technology accelerates, transforming our world at greater and greater speeds, creative responses are increasingly important.
So, in the company of researchers and business leaders, we share a question: How do we foster creativity, especially if you don't consider yourself to be particularly artistic or creative?
For answers, I turned to Nora Herting, Founder and CEO of ImageThink. Nora and the ImageThink team facilitate creative breakthroughs and transformations everyday for innovative brands such as Twitter, Hulu, and Google.
According to Nora, there's good news: You don't need to write a novel, learn to play the violin, or paint an atelier still life to get your creative juices flowing.
Read on for 8 simple steps you can take promote creative thinking in your workplace.
1) Think Small to Make a Big Impact
A serious mental block can feel like hitting a brick wall. It's normal to feel discouraged when this happens. How do you fix it? Start forming a lot of tiny cracks that will work to break down that wall.
What are little things that you can change in your daily routine to give you a fresh perspective? Maybe it's as simple taking a different route to work, an addition of a new plant at your desk, or changing your lunch routine.
2) Think on Your Feet
Sitting, especially for prolonged periods, is an understated drag on your health. Getting up from your seat is good for your mind, as well as your back.
According to Andrew Knight, Professor at Olin Business School, groups are more creative and collaborative when they work standing, not sitting.
3) Draw It Out
It's been proven that drawing activates cross-cognitive brain activity-an insight that ImageThink understands well. Approaching ideas visually will further activate the right hemisphere of your brain. This area is attributed with creativity and holistic thinking.
No need to be a master draftsman; even simple doodles will give you the same neurological benefits.
4) Keep Inspiration Nearby
Think of the last thing that shifted your thinking or opened your imagination. It could be a favorite quote, or a piece of art, or maybe a beautiful view from your last vacation.
Print it out, or bring in a memento that summons that memory. Make room for it at your desk. When you feel stuck, take a moment and shift your awareness there.
5) Adjust the Volume
According to a study conducted by the University of Chicago, ambient noise is ideal for creativity, at about the level of a hum at a coffee shop.
Extreme quiet, like a library is ideal for study. Quiet promotes focus but not necessarily the abstract processing we need for creativity. So what's the right balance of noise?
Loud environments and one-way phone conversations are creativity killers. Can't control the volume in your environment? Put on some headphones and try an ambient noise app.
6) Tap into Group Genius
If you're having a creative road block, you don't have to face it alone.
It's been said that every Pixar movie contains "tens of thousands of ideas", to quote the award winning studio's co-founder.
Turn your creative block into a group challenge- the collective genius of a team can often be the sum of all of its thinkers.
Recently at work, we were developing a presentation and got stuck on how to visualize the idea of integrity.
We gave everyone in the office a post-it note and asked for their suggestions. By the end of the day we had 12 ideas to choose from.
This inclusive exchange of ideas is something that can help your team chart a new path to a previously overlooked solution with collective genius.
Hopefully you've found a few ways to embrace some creative ways to approach your day-to-day routine, and gained some tools that will help you carve a new path to problem-solving.
And the best part?
You can utilize all of these tips without having to change your official job title to "creative virtuoso."