A study done by Forrester found that companies that embrace creativity outperform peers and competitors on key business performance indicators, including revenue growth, market share and talent acquisition.
But how do these businesses cultivate creative company cultures and foster creativity in their employees? Well, research shows that creativity is a skill that can be developed and a process that can be managed. In fact, there are several factors that contribute to the act of creating, in addition to intentional processes anyone can follow to help optimize creativity in business and life.
One such process has been coined Generativity Theory, which can be used to create an ideal environment for fostering creativity. Another process is Creative Problem Solving, which can help a person intentionally formulate creative solutions.
The Premise of Generativity Theory
Generativity Theory states that it can take a lot of failing and connecting of new ideas in order to arrive at the perfect creative solution. Fortunately, because most people don’t have the luxury or time to continue to fail, Generativity Theory offers four steps that are simple to incorporate into any business or life routine.
Record your thoughts, ideas and other information. Artists use sketchbooks to capture ideas. Musicians use notebooks. Scientists might record interesting facts and observations.
These ideas don’t necessarily need to be useful in the present moment. The idea is to record information that can be connected to new insights in the future that may lead to creative products and services. The important thing to remember is not to dismiss any idea. Record them no matter how useful they may seem at the time. You may be rewarded with an innovative new product idea later.
Move outside of your comfort zone into areas where you may risk failure. Failure is a positive aspect of creativity and is unavoidable in life. It’s important to learn to manage failure while also being open to partaking in ventures where failure is possible. The goal here is to test yourself and fail in order to learn what can be done differently next time. This way, you’ll be closer to success on your next attempt.
Seek to learn about topics unrelated to your normal interests or field. Learning about new subjects and fields can lead to connecting unrelated ideas and discovering new and useful products and services. If your passion is auto mechanics, then pick up a gardening magazine. If you love the outdoors, maybe try learning about the latest technology. Innovation happens at the intersection of unrelated fields. Expand your knowledge to increase your chances of creating something new and useful.
Finally, change your surroundings frequently – whether it means moving furniture in your office, taking a different route home from work or travelling somewhere you’ve never been. Why? Once the brain gets used to its environment, it eventually stops taking in new information in order to use the least amount of energy possible. It starts to perform routine tasks automatically, which can lead to complacency.
Changing your surroundings can be invigorating and revolutionary. You might notice new businesses or architecture if you take a different route home from work. This can spark new ideas. Rearranging your furniture can give you a fresh perspective on your job and be refreshing in general. Traveling can enliven your imagination and provide a well source for new ideas.
Using Generativity Theory in the Workplace
To help others such as employees to master personal success in business, schedule time and offer resources to capture ideas. Challenge them to try new tasks and support them if they fail. Provide them with a variety of training opportunities, even if it’s not related to their jobs. And hold events or meetings outside the office for a change of scenery. All these can help you and others succeed in business and life.
The 4 Steps of Creative Problem Solving
Creative Problem Solving (CPS) is the second process we’re talking about today that teams and individuals can use to quickly and deliberately find creative solutions.
If you need to find a creative solution and don’t have time to wait for the best idea to hit you, or if you want to lead your team in a creative process that will intentionally help you creatively resolve your problem, follow the four steps outlined below.
The goal of the clarifying stage is to determine exactly which problem needs to be solved. It’s important to focus on the correct aspects of the problem you wish to solve, as opposed to jumping in and focusing on an assumed problem. Explore the problem, clearly understand the situation and come up with the exact challenge you wish to solve.
Ideating consists of brainstorming how it is that you will solve your problem using the information gathered in the first step. It’s important to commit to spending time on solving your problem. Once you’ve collected enough ideas (probably hundreds), it’s time to use convergent thinking to decide on the best options to pursue. Which ones will most likely solve the problem you chose during the clarifying stage?
To develop your idea, you’ll need to explore PPCO (pulses, potentials, concerns, and overcoming concerns). This involves looking at the strengths of your ideas to get a pulse on what might work best. What might potentially happen if your idea comes to life and what will it mean for your mission? Ask what concerns you have about your idea in order to identify barriers or setbacks. And finally, think of how you might overcome these concerns to accomplish your goals. Once these aspects have been flushed out, use convergent thinking to determine the best way to move forward with your plan.
Finally, you’ll need to implement your plan. Using divergent thinking, evaluate what is required to accomplish your plan. Create a timeline and a workflow. Who will carry out what tasks and what are your desired outcomes? This will help you put your plan into action in an organized manner.
Keep in mind that the CPS process is not linear and you may need to revisit previous stages at any point in your journey. It’s perfectly okay to make mistakes and to fail – both are part of the creative process. If this happens, acknowledge it, investigate how you might improve and try again.
Creativity at Your Fingertips
To conclude, you don’t need to wait for creativity inspiration to find you or your business. You can deliberately cultivate it with systematic processes and techniques. You can create environments that empower creative thinking by capturing ideas, challenging yourself and others, broadening your knowledge and changing your surroundings. By implementing Generativity Theory into your business, you can feel extra supported in your business goals and propel your company ahead of your competition. And when facing a complex challenge in your business, you can apply the Creative Problem Solving process to quickly come up with a solution, move forward and keep on creating.