Reviving creativity involves supporting it at the individual level, the team level, and the system level. For organizations to enact creative change there must be buy-in at all levels. For creative ideas to flow within the organization there must be a change in the current thinking style. People must have the freedom, confidence, and courage to step out of the norm. Many creative ideas start with non-conscious processing, so a relaxed state of mind is a must. Thinking independently and without boundaries helps open up the imagination to many new possibilities. For creativity to flourish, people must be positive, motivated, and passionate about engaging others and transforming ideas into action. These seven strategies, in four stages, form the basis for saving creativity:
Stage 1: Liberation — The Freedom and Courage to Step Out and Think Freely
Cultivate Curiosity. A curious, questioning mind is perfect for creative endeavors. It drives new discoveries and opens new doors. Often an organization’s perspective or worldview can work like blinders — obstructing what could be a broader view. Moving past assumptions, beliefs, experiences, prejudices, and traditional ways of looking at things can be just the push it takes for an innovative solution.
The Sydney Opera House is a good example of breaking tradition. Utilizing what became known as the “fifth elevation,” architect JØrn Utzon created a unique building that looked like sails and took into account what it would look like from above, not just from all four sides. Likewise, giving employees the courage and freedom to disrupt familiar patterns or current systems can result in very creative results for the company. Empowering employees by giving them the respect and autonomy they deserve is a good way for both the individual and the organization to thrive.
Accept Ambiguity. Fear of failure can block creative efforts before they even begin. Individuals need the confidence to keep their minds open to new possibilities, but taking risks in the workplace can be terrifying without a supportive environment. Leaders can provide a safe environment for discovery and exploration of ideas so employees will not feel restrained by the fear of losing respect or their jobs. Sometimes this involves moving forward with a creative idea even when some parts of the plan are still up in the air or not fully developed. Integrative thinking is a good way to embrace ambiguities and flesh out ideas. It involves combining seemingly opposing ideas, like purpose and profit for example, to come up with a superior alternative that includes elements of both.
Stage 2: Initiation — The Independence and Openness to Let Go and Grow
Unleash the Imagination. Being busy all of the time is not necessarily the best path to productivity. Constant pressure and stress actually kills creativity. Giving the brain some down time provides the right mindset for cultivating ideas and solving problems. An individual or organization that is constantly under pressure will not be in the right place for innovation. Giving employees free time at the office for thinking and stumbling upon new ideas is gaining popularity. Employees at Google have one whole day each week to investigate new technology, gadgets, and ideas.
Access All Parts of the Brain. An open mindset helps see value in different ideas, different people, and different ways of doing things. Some of the most profoundly creative ideas do not come from experts, but from the collaboration of a diverse group of people. Brain exercises can help people get in the groove. The right brain can be stimulated with creative writing and the left with vocabulary games and math puzzles. Solving puzzles, analyzing patterns, and mapping out complex concepts can rewire the brain to use both parts simultaneously.
Stage 3: Motivation — The Passion to Drive Transformation
Reconstruct Common Concepts. Creative ideas most often come from people who are highly driven and passionate about the work they do. This passion naturally moves people to find solutions to obstacles, and many find they enjoy the creative challenge. Current beliefs, whether social, organizational, or individual, can severely limit creativity. When people learn to reconstruct common concepts and blast through limiting beliefs, they can remove the shackles from their creative energy. Going beyond the ordinary way of looking at things, connecting disparate ideas, and identifying patterns can result in very useful results like inventions.
Stage 4: Transformation — The Flexibility and Positivity to Make Real Changes
Explore Different Paths. Finding new systems and solutions takes time but can be expedited by a flexible, growth-driven organizational mindset. Companies hoping for long-term, bottom-line results will need the flexibility to sustain constant change. Keeping an open mind and attitude, in the same way that children naturally do, can foster fresh perspectives.
Some companies like Toyota and Hasbro have actually engaged panels of children to generate new ideas. Following the advice of experts is outmoded. Strong leaders seek people who can give their companies the innovative edge. Younger professionals are less likely to be restricted by perceived limitations so they are often more creative. They are able to think divergently and are not as narrow-minded in their thinking as experienced professionals often are.
Embrace Optimism. A positive, optimistic mindset can go a long way toward managing the mistakes and failures that pop up during creative endeavors. Being optimistic helps people be more productive and focused and also helps them bounce back after failure. Optimists persevere through challenges, learn from mistakes, and are motivated to move forward with the creative thinking process, often with even brighter ideas. By being more optimistic, people can learn to look at creative challenges as something achievable, manageable, and solution oriented.