Creativity is a very valued skill as it is one of the biggest building blocks of innovation and organization’s that lack innovation are not able to match pace with the market realities and challenges. In the modern age, a premium is placed on people who are able to exhibit creativity, however many of us are or have been taught to be restrained, narrow focused, hesitant, afraid to err so as not to make a fool our of ourselves. All of this kills creativity inside us, to be creative you have to follow a two-pronged approach, first you need to get off these constraints that throttle creative instinct and secondly add skills, which make you more creative.
Take out dedicated time
In case you have a problem at hand, one approach is to find a solution in jiffy and get done with it. The other approach is to get immersed in the problem, getting ideas is not akin to a car race; you need time. Study the problem, talk with others and look outside your cocoon to see how others in your industry have solved the problem. If your response to this is that you don’t have time on hand, that very well explains why you have a dearth of new ideas.
Think out loud
Talking out loud is a great way to refine your thought process; once you hear what you are thinking the brain gets triggered to throw out more options. Find a good sounding board, one who is willing to listen to your thoughts without interrupting or judging you. Talk to an expert in an unrelated field, your goal is not take their input on your proposed approach, but to see if your proposition follows the basics of problem solving. A lot of times people who are from the same field are blinded by reality and group-think, an outsider views the situation without any baggage.
Get into the skin
Look for patterns that don’t match the trend, you would be surprised that the most creative people look for solutions in the opposite direction when confronted with a problem. The key is to get to the root cause and not be blinded by the symptoms of the problem.
Remove the barriers
What is preventing you from being more creative; figure out your personal barriers. By its very definition being creative implies treading on the path of uncertainty and throwing up uncertain things for review and critique. At times being creative may start with being unpractical and looking for solution where most people feel none exists. Look at the case of Apple; it is a classic case of moving beyond set notions and making it extremely simple for people to use their product. You need to get out of your comfort zone to be creative.
Fail fast and fail early
Do quick experimentation with you ideas and run a controlled pilot, the proof of the pudding is in eating it. Do a prototype, test case and only then you would know the effectiveness of your idea. The biggest success stories in the world were born out of mistakes, some one used it differently for good, and do you know Post It Notes before its incarnation was failed glue that did not stick. Holding on to ideas for the fear of being proved wrong is the biggest inhibitor of creativity, get over with the failure as it is a data point in your life history, it does not define you.
More often than not, we keep on waiting for creative ideas to dawn on us, however usage of these simple techniques can make you usher a wave of creativity, remember you control your creativity and not the other way around.