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Have a project issue? Do you need to create a list of project requirements? Let’s have a brainstorming session!
Actually, let’s not. According to Shawn Doyle, Steven Rowell, brainstorming has been done so many, so poorly, that it is more likely to result in a room full uninspiring people who groan when your whiteboard pens are pulled out than any good ideas.
They write that “Most people do brainstorming or ideation in an unrelated way to how the brain actually functions.” “The process of brainstorming is often too linear, which is why they fail so often.” We gather people in a conference room and hand them a marker and a flipchart. Then we say, “Okay, people, let’s come up with some ideas!”
Jumpstart Your Creativity focuses on being more creative in generating ideas.
Definition of creativity
Rowell and Doyle define creativity as “the act of creating ideas that have value.”
So why can’t you do it?
People believe they are not creative or can’t think creatively. It is easier to stick with what you know, especially when we are busy, stressed, or overwhelmed. We rush to make a decision and don’t take the time to consider alternatives or involve others in it. Some people fear making a mistake, or being ridiculed. In many cases, creativity is a product of the school system. Doyle and Rowell wrote:
We are in desperate need of creative thinkers who can take the information overload and make something new out of it.
It’s not hard to argue that creativity is a must in business right now. We are always looking for new ways to save money, deliver projects faster, and do more with less resources. So, accepting that you can tap back into your innate creativity in order to get to those good project-issue-solving ideas, the authors have a 6-step approach to firing up your inner creative engine, nattily called CREATE:
Be confident and courageous and commit to your goals.
Don’t worry about what might be coming up; let go of your expectations.
Embrace Play – Get out of your regular workplace environment to get the best creative thinking opportunities (they refer to this as the ‘play zone’).
Accept that you might not be perfect in your ideas and creativity process, but that what you are doing is sufficient.
Take your time. Give yourself enough time to process the ideas. Group work can take several sessions so don’t rush.
Engage – Take action, focus on the results and accept the discomfort and ambiguity of being creative.
Tapping into your creative self
The book is filled with ideas to harness the creativity we all have. The authors emphasize that creativity is worth the effort, even if it means being creative. They ask: “What is the worst thing that could happen?” What if you did nothing?
Some are designed to open you up to new ideas.
Be more attentive
Watch videos (such as the TED Talks), read, and be open to any information that comes your way
Keep an electronic notebook, file, or idea bank
For inspiration, look outside your industry
To make your environment more conducive for creativity, you can remodel your home, car, and workspace.
There are many other ideas that can be used to make group sessions more productive. The first chapter outlines 12 techniques that can be used in facilitated workshops to replace the traditional brainstorming approach. This is one idea that I loved.