The vast majority of people say they are not creative. In fact, while 90% of 8 year olds consider themselves creative, this drops to below 10% by the time children reach high school. Recent academic studies have also shown that over the last 20 years the average ability of coming up with creative ideas is actually falling. You often hear people say they are “not creative” since they aren’t involved in the creative arts, such as music, sculpture, painting or dance.
But it is important to understand that everyone has the ability to come up with ingenious, creative ideas. Engineers, marketers, scientists, teachers, chefs, everyone. It is the singular most important thing which makes us human. Within your own brain, there are more potential connections between your neurons than there are atoms in the entire universe. Recent breakthroughs in neuroscience have also enabled scientists to finally begin to understand the workings of the different regions of the human brain, and how this relates to the formation of ideas. And we are learning more about how they interact every single day.
Your creativity is an ability which can be improved through training, focus, environmental triggers and release from certain behaviors which inhibit ideas. One of the most powerful training methods is improvisation, literally coaching your mind to spontaneously come up with new ideas meeting specific criteria. Improvides are the specialists in this.
Creativity can be improved through a variety of training aspects:
- Framing the challenge: Knowing the boundaries within which your future idea must fit actually makes it easier for the mind to develop ideas
- Breadth and Originality: Make your ideas being as diverse as possible, thereby covering more potential ground than a focused list of very similar ideas
- Speed: Through practice you can improve the number of ideas you can develop in the same amount of time
- “Yes-And” Collaboration: Ideas build on themselves, and on those of others. Even potentially wrong ideas may trigger off the process which discovers the final answer.
- Improvisation: Trains the mind to develop more ideas, faster with greater diversity and in a more collaborative way. Also helps build confidence and an effective team mentality for innovative thinking.
- Breaking through barriers: Even the most creative people sometimes get stuck. Learn how they break through the mental blockades and get the ideas coming again.
- Confidence: “What if my idea isn’t good enough?” is the biggest danger to developing ideas. A confident mind will get the idea out there, from where it can be evaluated and improved as necessary.
- Persistence & Dedication: Initial ideas need to be tested and refined until the most valuable solution is found. This requires a mindset ready to experiment and learn from failed experiments. Fail early and fail often.
- Distractions: Producing creative work and refining ideas requires time and effort, just like anything else. Interruptions need to be limited, which can include mobile phones, email, friends and noise.
- New experiences and Variety: even small changes which trigger a change in your perspective, such as different buildings in a new route to work, will put your brain in a more creative state
- Know your brain: Neuroscience is enabling us to find out in which mental states people come up with the most ideas. Recent lessons include the ability to unconsciously come up with solutions while asleep, producing more ideas early in the morning and subduing your frontal cortex responsible for self-censorship to release ideas.
Find out more about the two other Dimensions, Teamwork, Techniques and Tools and Organisational Support. Then if you want to drive these capabilities in your team, you can Hire me to help you achieve this.