“The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C,’ the idea must be feasible.” — A Yale university professor, responding to Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. Smith went on to create the company Federal Express.
Creativity is pretty simple, or so we are led to believe. All you need to do is open your mind to new ideas. Unfortunately, opening one’s mind is not a natural reaction any more, and not easy to do (well not for all of us). For example, if I suggested that you drive across the city in a car without touching the steering wheel during the entire trip, your response probably would not be an enthusiastic, “Let’s go!” but yet still today we now have the so called ‘driver less car’.
Their car is guided by an electronic system that watches the lines alongside the road to steer the car. And while you wouldn’t want to rely on this system during bad weather, it’s just a matter of time before similar technology ends up in your new car.
Creativity is not only a skill but off late the buzz word alongside Innovation, in which organizations are paying attention too. It’s important for us to be creative in how we do business in order to compete and maintain sustainability. Yes, even heavily regulated industries such as the finance sector, invest in creativity in how they work and deliver results. There are opportunities for creative solutions in the sector, while still adhering to the letter and spirit of the regulations. Experience working with clients in the banking and technology sector tells me that it’s possible to be creative in the face of incredibly austere regulations.
So how do you turn off judgement to be more creative? It’s not easy as it requires a more deliberate effort and persistence to just turn it off. And it requires the desire to be open to new ideas. If you want to generate some good ideas, you’ll need to generate lots of ideas; at least 100 of which only 1 maybe worth its weight in gold. Furthermore in order to generate lots of ideas, you’ll need to be astute when deferring your judgement of them. So here are a few ideas to do just that.
Defer judgement — try not to criticise not right now. Just let it flow. At some point it is important to judge an idea, but don’t do it while you’re generating ideas.
Creative Space – imperative to freedom of thought and judgement, the open house for free thinking.
Strive for quantity — the more ideas you generate, the more likely that one or more will be great. Set a quota of at least 30 ideas when you need just one good one. Then turn off the judgement and go!
Search for the unusual or wild card — worry about how to make your ideas work later. Look for as many seemingly “crazy” ideas as you can — the wilder the better! Here I believe you can embrace the most out-of-the-box notions and build build build..
Combine and build on ideas — merge one idea to another to create a new idea. Being positive and building on the ideas of others take some skill. In conversations try to use and instead of but…
Stay focused – endeavour to keep the discussion on target, otherwise you can diverge beyond the scope of what we’re trying to design for.
One person – even though this type of even tor exercise can generate many discussions. One conversation at a time is crucial to maintain focus and whilst ensuring objectives are met. Whilst developing everyone’s listening skills.
Be visual – Nothing gets an idea across faster than drawing it. Doesn’t matter how terrible of a sketcher you are! It’s all about the idea behind your sketch that really matters.
Quantity just go for it – plan for as many new ideas as possible. In a good session, up to 100 ideas are generated in 60 minutes. Throw the ideas out quickly.
By using these time-tested principles, you give yourself permission to come up with ideas you might not otherwise pay any attention to, but that actually make sense when you think about and tweak the ideas to make them workable.
So the next time you need some new ideas, whether you’re working by yourself or with a group. Announce the rules to yourself or your group. Then start writing. And really let the creative juices flow without judging. And watch the ideas start rolling in. Just like the driver less car — they may look odd and not reliable, but they may just take you where you want to go.
Denise Brown FCMI – a strategic thinker and writer.