In this FleeCorporate Bitesize Resource, we are going to briefly introduce the concept of creativity and creative techniques.
But – What is Creativity?
Creative techniques are used to assist in the generation of new or innovative ideas. In a 2016 New Your Times article Adam Grant, a well respected organizational psychologist and academic from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania says:
Why Use Creative Techniques?
Your brain has standard thinking patterns that have been developed over time and the brain likes patterns. By using creative thinking techniques we can break our brain out of these standard patterns, sometimes known as tramlines, and into a more innovative space.
Innovation is something new, it could be a new way of doing something, thinking about something, a new product, or a new way of delivering a service. Innovation is important because the world is constantly changing and, as much as change can be scary, it also brings opportunity. You are unlikely to maximise the opportunities intrinsic to these changes through traditional means, which is where leveraging creative techniques to come up with a new and valuable solution, product, or offer comes into play.
Expanding your thinking outside its tramlines and away from the convergent thought of your conscious mind (remind yourself of all the people whose catchphrase is “but we’ve always done it this way”, and resolve to be different) is one way to increase innovation. In their 2006 paper, Dijksterhuis and Nordgren suggest
When, Where and Who?
Creative techniques come to the forefront for specific types of activities, particularly in the realms of problem-solving, gathering information, exploring issues, defining priorities, and product development.
Creative techniques are extremely versatile and depending on which technique you select, they can be used by yourself, in pairs, or even in groups.
Although, a quick tip about large groups – to make sure that everyone has a chance to contribute:
- Try getting people to write down their ideas in advance and add to their lists as more thoughts occur to them in the room. This way you can overcome the introvert’s natural discomfort within highly social environments and benefit from the extrovert’s ongoing idea stream at the same time.
- Create a non-judgemental environment, ideas initially perceived as silly can stimulate new forms of innovation either on their own or when combined with other ideas.
- Don’t allow one excited extrovert to dominate the room, make sure that everyone is encouraged to contribute.
How To Get Started
We actually already have, this post is constructed using a creative technique called the Five Ws and an H (also known as Kipling’s List, and Kid’s kit among other names). I’ve used the question words of Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How as a checklist to make sure that I hit all of the high-level key points about creative techniques. They can also be used in combination with other creative techniques as a prompt – such as when mind mapping.
Be aware when using this technique however that it can make problems seem a bit too simplistic because it can encourage you to ignore the nuances and ever-changing nature of the area that you are investigating. If you are using this technique for problem-solving, once you have established your baseline facts (i.e. Who does this work), you will often require another pass through to dig into the detail (i.e. why do they do it, how do they do it, how do we make it easier? etc).
Creative techniques are all around us, something as simple as writing down some related ideas (mind mapping) and adding some complementary doodles (rich pictures) and then coming back and adding to it after you’ve been out for a run (changing your perspectives) are all easily accessible and useful creative techniques.
More details on Mind Maps and Rich Pictures can be found in my Visual Creative Problem Solving Post.
I hope you’ve found this a helpful introduction to creative techniques. Please do let me know what you think about it in the comments, including any suggestions you may have on format or subjects you’d like to hear about.