By Chris Grivas, co-author of “The INNOVATIVE TEAM: Unleashing Creative Potential for Breakthrough Results”
For instance, many people believe creativity is an inborn trait, often associated with artists and innovators. Was Van Gogh more creative than you? Was Steve Jobs? Who knows? But we do know is that you can improve the caliber of creative ideas and solutions you generate. The latest creativity research shows that by changing the way your think about challenges, you can enhance creative problem solving in any situation.
Here are some common questions creativity experts hear all the time:
- “Who is more creative, men or women?”
- “Who is more creative, the old and experienced or young and fresh?”
- “Are some people just born creative?”
- “Aren’t leaders threatened by creative individuals?”
- “How do you answer those people who say it just costs too much to be creative?”
- “With all the financial stress these days, how can we afford to take risks on something creative?”
Here’s the deal – everyone is creative. That’s right, even you.
How much creativity you have in your DNA is not important. Understanding how you prefer to use your creativity is. Why? Because once you see how you engage in the creative process, how you prefer to think when you’re tackling the most wicked problem – bam! You have the knowledge to take control of it. You can start using tools to get you through those parts of the process you don’t naturally like to do. You can stop yourself from spending too much time in those parts of the process you do like to do. You can see how your thinking style is different from others and then learn to use the diversity of thought on your team more effectively.
That should answer the first three questions. The last three can be answered this way: If you are the leader of a group of people and you can’t figure out how to tap the creative thinking of your team – you won’t be leading for long. So the question of influence comes into play – how might you best influence the creative thinking of those you work with? Solving the problems of risk and cost of innovation for your organization is clearly something worth spending time on – but these are not obstacles to success; they are hurdles to climb. Knowing how to gain that creative foothold with your team, how to influence the emergence of their creative DNA is the key to overcoming the most complex obstacle.
There are a plethora of creative tools that you can use to think differently and encourage the same in others. To get over the old obstacle block try phrasing problems as questions. It’s a means of making any problem more approachable by inviting solutions rather than putting obstacles in your way.
Here’s how it plays out. Your first instinct might be to blurt out “It’s too expensive,” “It’ll take too long,” or “We can’t risk resources on hypotheticals, WAIT! Before you shut down both a potentially great idea and the colleague who was brave enough to suggest it, try asking yourself some of these instead:
“How might we mitigate risk? “In what ways can we reduce the effects of failure?” or “How can we test new ideas safely?”
“In what ways can we reduce the cost of this idea?” “How might we share the cost of this idea?”
Imagine you were on the receiving end of these thought provoking questions. Would you feel your idea stuck in the mud or would you be ready to get to work making it stronger? Powerful questioning is the beginning of influencing innovation. You help make the idea stronger by through questions rather than deal-breaking statements. You use the power of exploration ahead to make ideas more complete, rather than just putting obstacle in the way of your colleagues. This tool may seem simple on the surface, but once you try to put it into action, you’ll see that it’s not “soft skill.” It is hard to purposely alter your own behavior. It’s hard to build new habits. Still, once you put it into action, consistently making a habit of creating powerful questions, you’ll experience its effect. New, fully developed ideas will start blossoming around you. Go ahead. Give it a shot.
Finally, if you still need more motivation, try this one: ”What is the cost to us for NOT Innovating?”