The power of creativity

Organisations look for creative and innovative skills across all levels to generate new ideas for products, services and programmes but also to work on new approaches and solve problems effectively and efficiently.

Being creative and innovative is inherent to human kind. We adapt and use our powerful brain to grow and improve our lives. We all need to make sure that we dedicate time and effort to develop those much needed skills.

At a recent workshop at UCL in London, I worked with a group of researchers and explored the drivers and tools available to boost creative and innovative skills. Here’s my take on the three key factors which will help you boost your creativity:

Guard and treasure your creative “space”

We live in a world that seems to be on “fast forward” mode. Technology has changed our lives and impacted both our work space and the way we interact with our colleagues and wider networks. Furthermore, the speed of change and innovation seems to have increased over the last decade, and these are likely to continue exponentially.

In order to be more creative and develp our skills further, we need to make a conscious effort to ensure we have specific times to reflect, explore and ponder. This is not new but the number of distractions and our ability to be connected 24/7 makes it harder to find the time to do this. Creativity requires time and a range of thinking processes. It is important to know when you are at your most creative and treasure this creative “space”.  There are no perfect conditions which fits everyone, l but most of us will be more creative when we have some “down time” and get to the “eureka” moment when we are doing something very different. Your creative “space” can be linked to specific times of the day,  a choice of music,  walking in nature or after a run! What matters is your ability to recognise the right environment and stimuli which will boost your creativity.

Manage emotions

The creative process is often linked to strong emotions which can be, at times, uncomfortable.  There is a great article on the Harvard Business Review website which covers “The Emotions that makes us more creative“. The article covers a broader perspective on the role of emotions in creativity. Research suggests that experiencing positive and negative emotions are part of the creative process. Dealing with a range of emotions is critical to our ability to be more creative and innovative. 

Choose the right creative tools for you

There are a plethora of creative tools that are available to help you boost creativity. Not all will be effective and it is important to choose the ones that are right for you, your team and the culture in which you operate.  How do you choose the best tools? The best way is to try, review, adopt or drop. It may take time initially but it will be worth it in the long run. My all time favourite is to use the “Reversal brainstorming” method: you look at the problem you are facing and try to make it worse! It seems counter intuitive but it helps you come up with creative ideas and solutions which you can then reverse back.  Reversal is a good technique when you  cannot easily find new solutions to an existing problem.