HR & Management

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How to cultivate creativity

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An Adobe poll of 5,000 people reports that 80 per cent see unlocking creative potential as key to economic growth – yet only 25 per cent feel that they’re living up to their creative potential. This is something that brothers Tom and David Kelley hope to address.

For three decades at the helm of IDEO, the Kelley brothers have helped organisations in the UK and across the globe to nurture and apply their creativity. Their firm designed the first laptop and Apple’s first mouse, and is behind innovations that have transformed business, government, and healthcare.

Leaders and managers have just as much creative potential as marketing executives, and just as much to gain from it. You might not think of yourself as a ‘creative type’ and you might not be in a creative profession, but unlocking your creative capacity is essential to fulfilling your potential – here are some of the Kelley brothers’ strategies for doing just that. 

1) Choose creativity

To be more creative, the first step is to decide you want to make something happen.

2) Think like a traveller

Like a visitor to a foreign land, try turning fresh eyes on your surroundings, no matter how mundane or familiar. Don’t wait around for a spark to magically appear. Expose yourself to new ideas and experiences.

3) Engage relaxed attention

Daydreaming has a bad rap. But new findings in neuro-psychology show that flashes of insight often come when your mind is relaxed and not focused on completing a specific task, allowing the mind to make new connections between seemingly unrelated ideas.

4) Empathise with your end user

You come up with more innovative ideas when you better understand the needs and context of the people you are creating solutions for.

5) Do observations in the field

If you observe others with the skills of anthropologists, you might discover new opportunities hidden in plain sight.

6) Ask questions, starting with “why?” 

A series of “why?” questions can brush past surface details and get to the heart of the matter. For example, if you ask someone why they are still using a fading technology (think landline phones), the answers might have more to do with psychology than practicality.

7) Reframe challenges

Sometimes, the first step toward a great solution is to reframe the question. Starting from a different point of view can help you get to the essence of a problem.

8) Build a creative support network

Creativity can flow more easily and be more fun when you have others to interact with and bounce ideas off. 

For more strategies, readCreative Confidenceby Tom and David Kelley, co-founders of IDEO

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