Posted January 19th, 2013 by bbsadmin & filed under General Business.
1. Change your hat
Often, it is difficult to know all that is “really” going on in a company while you sit in the executive office. If you want some creativity, an easy way to get the creative juices flowing is by taking off the executive hat and getting out of the office. Spend some time doing what your target market is doing or with them, when possible. You can also spend time with lower management. As a company leader you should know all about the company, not just what is discussed at company headquarters. Numbers don’t tell the whole story. When you go out and learn the other side of the story, it will change your perspective and give you more brain material to work with. This will improve your creativity when you are solving problems.
2. Learn from others
Learning from others is my favorite way to increase creativity. When I am looking for a new perspective, I generally ask people for theirs, read about other’s perspectives in books and articles, or look at or listen to the perspective of others through art. I often find that the philosophies, understanding and ideas of others can help me build bridges between the mental gaps I have which exist because of experiences I have never had. I have found that the value in this is not in the philosophies, ideas, perspective or understanding itself, but digging deeper and finding the principles on which they are founded. Make sure that you don’t steal ideas or take credit for those things which are not rightfully yours.
3. Get out of the routine
One great way to change perspective is to get out of your routine. If you get to the end of the day and everything is a blur because you have ended up doing the same things in the same way that you have for the past… who knows how long, you may need to try doing things differently today just to get a different perspective. You could take a walk at lunch time, for example. Maybe you could socialize with someone you don’t normally talk to, take a different way home from work or read a newspaper you don’t normally read. If you normally watch TV after work, put down the remote. Annie Murphy Paul from Time.com summarized the findings of a study conducted by Mareike Wieth and Rose Zacks saying, “imaginative insights are most likely to come to us when we’re groggy and unfocused. The mental processes that inhibit distracting or irrelevant thoughts are at their weakest in these moments, allowing unexpected and sometimes inspired connections to be made” (Annie Murphy Paul). From this we can see that taking a little extra time in the morning here and there can be beneficial to our creativity.
4. Come back later
If you are seeking creativity for problem solving, taking a break is one of the best things you can do. I enjoy art as a hobby. Sometimes if I spend too long on one painting, what I see in my mind and what I see on the canvas start to look the same, even when I have not put down all that is on my mind onto the canvas. Sometimes, I know that something is missing, but I just can’t figure out what it is. This is when I step away from the canvas and decide to look at it tomorrow. This technique has been a great help in the projects I have done, both as a team and individually. When the project seems to be going nowhere and considerable effort has been put into it, taking a break, or even putting the project away for a day, can be very helpful. It allows for a change in perspective. Many times, when I come back to the project, it is very obvious what the answer should be.
5. Idea mapping
Idea mapping is an old technique of organizing thoughts and ranking them. You were probably introduced to the idea back in middle school or high school. Idea mapping is very straight forward. You may have done it in the past without realizing it. One starts out by finding the heart of the matter at hand and draws this idea or thought at the center of a page. The thoughts and ideas that are most relevant to this main thought or idea are written out individually and connected to the original thought or idea. Thoughts and ideas which influence or are related to the individual thoughts or ideas connected to the heart of the matter are written out and connected to the ideas which are connected the heart of the matter and so on. In the end you will have a thought or idea in the center of the page with trees of ideas spreading out in every direction. This allows for individuals to look at the heart of the issue and all that it encompasses. It allows for one to make key assumptions about cause and effect and rank thoughts and ideas in terms of importance. You will also be able to adjust your focus with regards to the problem you are seeking to solve.
6. Physical activity
In the April 2002 issue of Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, an article was published explaining that physical activity improves mental activity and, “protects against cognitive decline” (Cotman and Engesser-Cesar). Some of my greatest ideas have come to me while I am jogging. I find that it allows me to think and process ideas. I also I found that I have better physical stamina in general when I am regularly physically active.
7. Change perspective
In the movie Amazing Grace the main character, William Wilberforce, is trying to abolish slavery in England. After years of unsuccessful attempts with parliament there was very little hope. Years later a friend gave a suggestion. The ships carrying slaves would put up the French flag to get through to England because of the war. The main character proposed a bill which which didn’t seem to have anything to do with the slave trade, but ended up making it much more difficult for it to take place. This helped make it easy to make the next step in abolishing the slave trade. If you are trying to solve a problem but keep on hitting a brick wall, you can increase your creativity by changing perspective. In my experience, a change in perspective is a main driver in most principles that increase creativity.
Annie Murphy Paul. 1 Feb 2012. http://ideas.time.com/2012/02/01/why-morning-routines-are-creativity-killers/. 16 Juary 2013.
Cotman, Carl W and Christie Engesser-Cesar. Exercise Enhances and Protects Brain Function. April 2002. http://journals.lww.com/acsm-essr/Abstract/2002/04000/Exercise_Enhances_and_Protects_Brain_Function.6.aspx. 5 January 2013.