Serious Creativity

4 Minute Read

Do you ever get bored and look at all the creative ideas on Pinterest? Moms coming up with cute snack ideas for their kids to take to school. Crafty people making their own Halloween costumes. Awesome dinner ideas that you would have never thought of… Then we think… “Are you kidding me? Who has time for this crap? These are impossible. I’m just not a creative person.” That thought has probably crossed your mind. Maybe you’ve even said it out loud.

“The concept of creativity has historically been very useful in the business world.”

 

When you think of creative people, you might think of artists, musicians, dancers, or those crazy moms on Pinterest. But the concept of creativity has historically been very useful in the business world.

  • Life insurance is a very conventional industry controlled by tradition and regulations. One day Ron Barbaro, the former CEO of Prudential Canada came up with a new idea:  Why not pay out life insurance benefits before the policy-holder dies? This led to the concept of “living benefits.” (Any policyholder who falls terminally ill is immediately entitled to 75 percent of the benefits that would have been payable upon death.) This unheard-of notion initially viewed as an audacious, foolhardy move by Barbaro, became a big success and was soon imitated by countless others. Using an open, creative mind, he converted a “death” benefit to a much more attractive “life” benefit designed to provide for the insured in event of a catastrophic illness.
  • Meg Whitman, former head of eBay, took the online auction service (some say the world’s largest garage sale) from $5.7 million in revenue to $7.6 billion in less than ten years.
  • George Washington Carver invented three hundred uses for the peanut.
Creating can be described as bringing something into existence.

And like we demonstrated in the above examples, what is created can either be tangible like a new invention or intangible like a thought or plan. The value assigned is dependent upon what actions are taken to make use of the creation.

So every time we say, “I am just not a creative person,” we are forgetting that we all have the ability to use the creative process. Like many things, practicing your creative side takes time and some discipline. Our thinking patterns have become well developed since childhood and new habits will need to be generated.

Here are a few simple steps to begin tapping into your creative side:

  1. Stop doing what you have always done. An enemy to any creative endeavor is the status quo.  This can be the most uncomfortable step of all because, as human beings, we tend to resist change. The saying, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” may apply in the mechanical world. But what would actually be accomplished if we all thought this way?
  2. Create an environment for creative thinking. Some like it quiet, some noisy.  Music can stimulate thought. Sit in another area to complete project work. The change of scenery can be inspirational and help you avoid distractions and interruptions.
  3. Involve others. Use the power of synergy. People think differently. A brainstorming session that includes different people dedicated to imaginative solutions to vexing problems can often bring new and inspired concepts.
  4. Don’t be afraid to fail. If it helps, scan an idea for possible consequences to avoid before implementation to reduce risk. But don’t let the fear of the consequence lead you back into routine thought and a “been there, done that” attitude.

When Thomas Edison was experimenting with designs for light bulbs, he had about 1800 attempts before he invented the design that worked. In addition, he tested over 6,000 vegetable growths as filament material before he found one that would burn long enough.

But you see…Edison didn’t look at his attempts as failures, but as 1800 ways not to build a light bulb. Historian, Paul Israel, who in compiling his biography, said of him, “He saw every failure as a success because it channeled his thinking in a more fruitful direction.”

Edison didn’t look at his attempts as failures, but as 1800 ways not to build a light bulb. Historian, Paul Israel, who in compiling his biography, said of him, “He saw every failure as a success because it channeled his thinking in a more fruitful direction.”

“Encouraging creativity in the workplace does not have to cost anything and what you gain from it can transform your business.”

 

Let’s face it. In today’s world, it is imperative that leaders adapt and make rapid change to keep up. Encouraging creativity in the workplace does not have to cost anything and what you gain from it can transform your business. Start small. Don’t try to tackle the world’s problems all at once. But start somewhere… People will be looking for different styles of leadership. Promote and practice creative thinking and action to predict and prepare for whatever may be coming in the future.

As a leader, sometimes you have to start with a little creativity, and that creativity can evolve into innovation. Find more here.

Edison didn't look at his attempts as failures, but as 1800 ways not to build a light bulb. Historian, Paul Israel, who in compiling his biography, said of him, “He saw every failure as a success because it channeled his thinking in a… Click To Tweet