“Creativity is a muscle. You have to work it continually. If you do, it will get stronger and easier to use.” Tom Kelley, Partner at Ideo
I glanced through the latest issue of American Way on my flight from Detroit to State College, PA last week, and came across an interesting article on discovering that “Ding” moment of creativity. The author had interviewed Tom Kelley, a partner at Ideo - one of the best known design firms in the country, to gain insight into the creative process. I am always interested in finding new techniques to fuel creativity and like what Tom shared.
Mr. Kelley suggests there are four ways you can flex and strengthen your creative muscle:
1. Think Like a traveler – Take advantage of domestic and international trips to look around and take in new ideas and experiences that might drive new creative ideas for your products or services. Take a look at your company with an outsider's perspective and think about why customers do business, or would want to do business, with you.
2. Daydreaming is Okay – Sometimes called "exercising relaxed attention." Schedule some quiet time each week, out of the office if possible, to let your mind wander. Very rarely do new ideas happen while sitting in front of a computer. I find my creative juices flow most first thing in the morning when I am biking or working out. Give yourself permission to just think.
3. Have an "Idea Wallet" – It is necessary to capture your ideas in the moment, so you can sort out your thoughts and develop them later. We use an "Idea Bench" in Rhythm to do this with Winning Moves, although a notebook or electronic tool like Evernote works fine as well. You need to capture your ideas to free your mind up for new ones and to prioritize the ideas you want to begin working on.
4. Fight Fear with Small Steps – Keep adding to and prioritizing your ideas. Work the ones you can and kill the ones that have no future. Share your ideas and ask for help from your team to expand and move them forward. Experiment, prototype and bring them to life. I always like the statement Doug Hall used; “Fail Fast, Fail Cheap.”
Creativity and innovation drive great companies. Just as it is necessary to build a sales pipeline, it is also necessary to build your idea pipeline. New innovations are not born over night and take constant vigilance to birth. As Albert Einstein said, “It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer.”
How and where do you come up with your best ideas? Is your idea wallet full? Share your thoughts with our readers. One thing is sure, we all need more creativity and breakthrough ideas. Give your mind permission to wander and have some fun coming up with the next great thing. Who knows, you just might dream up the next Amazon.
Innovate well, Alan
“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” Albert Einstein
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