Like businesses, individuals can stagnate if they’re not generating new ideas.
Business leaders have long realized that creativity leads to innovation, which is a key ingredient to achieving success. They recognize that innovation is the single most important skill an organization can possess if it is to remain competitive. There is an adage which says that businesses need to innovate or they will evaporate.
This concept is essentially the same for the individual. Some might think it’s beyond their capability, but creativity can be developed and enhanced. Because creativity leads to innovation, as in an organization, individuals can stagnate if not generating ideas and new thoughts. The first step for the individual is to acquire, develop or enhance the creativity skills that lead to innovation.
There have been numerous articles and books written on this topic. Two books pushing “out-of-box” thinking were written by James M. Higgins. 101 Creative Problem Solving Techniques focuses on new ideas for businesses, and Escape from the Maze describes Higgins’ nine steps to personal creativity. Together, they contain powerful insights for organizations and individuals who want to be more creative.
Creativity is as valuable a quality as any I can think of. It must be encouraged and nurtured if you want to grow as a person or be more successful professionally. You must be willing to seek out and develop that which is new in yourself. At the same time, you are letting go of old habits, beliefs and expectations that are no longer useful—and could easily be holding you back from true success.
Certainly, there are tools such as TRIZ, a problem-solving, inventive technique developed by Dr. Genrich Altshuller which can lead to creative solutions that may not surface otherwise. Aside from tools and techniques designed to stimulate creativity, the following are six human conditions which can allow creativity—and ultimately, innovation—to flourish.
- Solitude. Not withdrawal or being totally alone, but in the sense of spending time apart from the clichés and conventions of society to focus on your thoughts and ideas.
- Inactivity. Not loafing or goofing off, but planned inactivity as a break in your busy routine. I’ve known very productive and creative people who set aside part of their daily schedule so as not to be interrupted in their thoughts.
- Daydream. Through daydreams, we make mental excursions into fantasy that breed creative activity. Several organizations have quiet rooms set aside for the purpose of stimulating out-of-box (innovating) thinking.
- Gullibility. That’s right, gullibility. This is the willingness to suspend your personal beliefs and accept what comes from inside without insisting on rationality or logic.
- Alertness and discipline. Although they are necessary for productivity in any endeavor, these qualities have a special meaning in creativity.
- Mental replay. Allowing yourself to revisit past creative efforts and the resolution of traumatic conflicts leads to analogies, which is one of the principles of TRIZ.
One twist on the famous Thomas Edison quote could be that creativity “is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration.” That means that creativity, much like success, must be accomplished by perseverance and hard work. So, while most of the above conditions require loosening of control and openness to the inner self, the last and most important is your willingness to put what you discover into action. Without this commitment to action, your creativity—and ultimately, your innovation—might never emerge. iBi