Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. Creativity is characterised by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions. Creativity involves two processes: thinking, then producing.
Creativity begins with a foundation of knowledge, learning a discipline, and mastering a way of thinking. You can learn to be creative by experimenting, exploring, questioning assumptions, using imagination and synthesing information. Learning to be creative is akin to learning a sport. It requires practice to develop the right muscles and a supportive environment in which to flourish.
Studies by Clayton M. Christensen and his researchers uncovered The Innovators DNA: Your ability to generate innovative ideas is not merely a function of the mind, but also a function of five key behaviours that optimize your brain for discovery:
- Associating: drawing connections between questions, problems, or ideas from unrelated fields
- Questioning: posing queries that challenge common wisdom
- Observing: scrutinizing the behavior of customers, suppliers, and competitors to identify new ways of doing things
- Networking: meeting people with different ideas and perspectives
- Experimenting: constructing interactive experiences and provoking unorthodox responses to see what insights emerge
Sir Richard Branson has a mantra that runs through the DNA of Virgin companies. The mantra is A-B-C-D. (Always Be Connecting the Dots). Creativity is a practice, and if you practice using these five discovery skills every day, you will develop your skills in creativity and innovation.
“Creativeness is the ability to see relationships where none exist.”
— Thomas Disch, author, 334, (1974)
For example you can make comparisons between your company and others outside of your industry. Questions I ask my clients’ teams in advance of our creativity and innovation ideation sessions are:What companies do you most admire and why? What are they doing that you could adopt or adapt to your own company?