Kick-Starting Organizational Creativity

The last few years has demonstrated a steady rise in the need and demand for creativity and innovation in the business sector. Foreign competition has created a new business reality where rapid change and surpassing client expectations are the norm. Global markets, once the exception, are now the rule for most every market. Economic, technological and political changes are occurring with such speed that hat is considered state-of-the-art today, is already obsolete tomorrow.

Staying competitive in this new business environment means that organizations must create strategies for nurturing and facilitating continuous creativity and innovation in the employees they have. Without the development of these skills, foreign competition will continue to surpass local enterprise, taking with it a large percentage of the available market share.

The results is a realization that the art f imitation is no longer a viable means of achieving or gaining global competitiveness. Organizations are now faced with the challenge of functioning creatively, not just occasionally, but all the time! The difference between success and failure in this new marketplace is the ability to identify hidden opportunities and subsequently, to develop innovative strategies for bringing them to fruition. The question is, how can management achieve this lofty goal?

Below is a list of 33 simple strategies and concepts for increasing personal and organizational creativity. These are real ideas that have been implemented for stimulating: human resource development, organizational structure, and physical environment and design.

Just remember, “… creativity is not a spectator sport”. you have to try the ideas out in order to get results. Good luck and happy creativity!

Human Resource Development

1. Develop a “psychological” climate where trust is guaranteed. Let employees know that is is alright not to have all the answers and that it’s acceptable to ask others for input.

2. Develop an organizational culture that encourages humor, allowing people to laugh at themselves rather than their jobs.

3. Remove barriers that stifle creativity from occurring in the first place. Fear, rejection, and intimidation serve no constructive role in high performing organizations.

4.Teach people how to visualize their ideas so that they can play them out in their minds before actually trying to implement them live.

5. Let employees take ownership of problem situations as they emerge. Give them the freedom to solve their own problems in the ways they see fit. Encourage them to try new ways of solving situations and then reward them for it.

6. Create voluntary “Idea Teams” where groups of employees challenge each other to see who can come up with the most creative and monetarily successful solution to organizational or market problems.

7. Encourage employees to carry pads and pens so that when ideas hit, they can be jotted down for reference at a later time. Go even further and provide idea pads for all employees and have them submit their notes if they desire.

8. Create deliberate moments of chaos to jolt your employees into new ways of thinking about their work, their jobs and their ideas.

9. Let employees express their individuality through ideas, dress, work spaces or whatever it is that lets their unique attributes show. Don’t embarrass employees because of their uniqueness. Recognize that everyone is different and it is those differences that can spark new ideas to emerge.

10. Encourage employees to see and understand things in different ways. Let employees run with their ideas, see where it takes them. Ask “what if?” questions to stretch their minds. For example “what if our customers couldn’t read?”. Now don’t analyze just think about it for a moment as thought it were real.

11. Change perceptions by changing viewpoints.If things are right side up, turn them over, turn them inside out, look at the situation from another perspective, break it, rotate it, re-assemble it, exaggerate certain aspects of it, make it unfamiliar, use any and all the different approaches you can when confronted with problems.

12. Allow employees space and time for practicing creativity and creative thinking so that people can grow into their skill level. Bring in qualified facilitators trained in teaching how to cultivate and encourage creativity. Provide creativity workshops, coaching and training at ALL levels within the organization.

13. Recognize and encourage different types of creative activity and acknowledge that creativity can be demonstrated as: a new way to approach a problem; sometimes it’s a better product, or an improvement to a service, sometimes it’s an insight into how to make the organization more effective, or how to cut costs. Creativity shows up every day in a multitude of ways. Make sure you not only capture it but reinforce it both explicitly and publicly.

14. Help everyone to find satisfaction and fun in their jobs no matter what position they currently fill. Try increasing the level of passion in what you and others do. Remember employees only reflect the attitudes and behaviors of those at the top.

Organizational Structure

How can we make changes here that will increase the probability of creative output. Here are twelve great ideas that can be implemented easily through changes in organizational structure.

1. Encourage a management style that seeks to find more than just one answer to problems. If the culture demands creativity, employees will rise to the occasion.

2. Set examples for and by management by maintaining an open, accessible, and receptive attitude toward new ideas and suggestions. Let everyone know what the company stands for and is trying to achieve. When ideas are suggested, try them out. Put them into action. Expect positive results! Avoid unnecessary evaluation at the early stages of idea generation. Be encouraging, complimentary and open to different ideas or suggestions. Try not to reject ideas that do not fit in with your perspective or philosophy.

3. Increase delegation and share influence throughout the organization. Make allowances for breaking organizational rules; lessen the burden of bureaucratic restrictions. Break free from the traditional boundaries of organizational structure. Do not over-direct, over-burden, over-report, or over-observe. Treat people with the respect they deserve and you will be surprised by the outcomes!

4. Keep others informed of creative achievements that are accomplished throughout the organization. encourage and maintain support networks for creativity. Have a creativity network connected to everyone in the organization. This will support the process of quickly sharing ideas and suggestions throughout the whole organizational structure.

5. Allow for periods of “down-time” where you and your employees have the opportunity to think, clear the mind, process, daydream, and create visions of what you want to see happen at work.

6. Promote the organization through creative leadership. Set examples by leading the creativity campaign yourself. Enhancing creativity starts with conscientious efforts from the top. Set examples by risking, failing, trying out new ideas, and breaking rules that no longer have value to the organization.

7. Start a product/service innovation center that is voluntarily operated and directed by the interests and concerns of the employees.

8. By open to new ways of thinking, seeing, smelling, and experiencing the organization. Make an effort to get involved with things outside of your field or specialty. Doing so will trigger creative ideas that can be related back to the job you do perform.

9. Take a proactive approach to doing your job. Don’t wait for problems to occur, try improving on the system that is functioning just fine. force yourself to try new and different approaches to problems that emerge.

10. Budget for creativity and innovation. ensure that financial support is made available to support ideas, helping hem to grow to full potential.

11. Avoid communication breakdowns between managers, co-workers and executives as this will stop new ideas from developing. Without the sharing of ideas and concepts, opportunities for new business ventures slow down, eventually ceasing to exist.

12. Provide as much physical privacy as possible for employees. this is very different from isolating individuals. Privacy refers to allowing employees the freedom to be by themselves to think or plan or just to break free from the daily grind of work.

Graphic Designer – His Fears and Creativity!

Introduction

The kind of fear which I shall tackle in this article is an every day feeling or phenomenon. Fear is a totally human reaction and feeling disregarding man’s age, looks, nerves, muscles or how bold he/she is. From the psychological point of view, fear is defined as one of the basic senses or emotions that man feels. However, it may accompany anger, pleasure, grieve, or sadness. Generally speaking, fear is associated with those emotions emanating from real tangible or intangible dangers. But, it stands in the opposite side with concern or yearning, which are normally resulting from a surprise, threat, danger of whatsoever.

Fear may appear when a man is exposed to an embarrassing or humiliating situation, or when watching others undergoing such fear themselves, or when receiving some horrific news. Frequency or long exposure to fear may lead a man to a state of lack of balance, especially when a man resists his fatigue, emotional setbacks, agitation, the organic changes he is undergoing resulting from the nervous apparatus, like increased rate of adrenaline, abnormal cardiac beats, which are all accompanied by excessive sweating, dry mouth and other symptoms. But, this is not the case at all. The case is, how can the graphic designer face this fear ? How can her control such fear in a positive way? How can he succeed to make use of his fears in a creative way?

This phenomenon is widely known among graphic designers regardless of their professionalism, but it hits it utmost levels among graphic design students. However, it takes a special form when it is brought to the work with all its problems. It stems from two main sources: Insufficiency of the student, and the expanding gap between what he has learned and the market demands. The other case is the inconsistency between the student and his co-workers, i.e. lack of a language of communication between the two. Insufficient knowledge of the task of the graphic designer, would also create an awkward situation to the designer himself and would lead him to frustration and tension.

Like other creative men, a graphic designer needs to live a unique state of creativity by which he can reach the climax by producing a complete work which realizes the long aimed hopes. Living such a state would require him to bring out a design, which is a simple and direct visual means of communication that penetrates deeply into the conception of the receiver.

But, where can this case be ?

How does the concept evolve ?

How can the graphic designer reach to a state of both creativity and invention? Both states mainly rely on the ability of the designer to overcome the state of confusion and uncertainty, which usually starts with the initial steps of concepts evolution. Afterwards, such state would gradually develop and turn to fear. It is quite essential that the designer should overcome his fears by overlooking this state, which the fear might reach.

To overcome this barrier, the designer should have three main things:

1- Self-awareness ,

2- Self-acceptance, and

3- Self-respect.

These conditions and perquisites can help the designer maintain his ideas, and the tools of executing them. On owning such conditions, the designer will be able to utilize and employ his personal potentialities, and be open to creative and artistic ideas and experiences. They would enable him to explore the truth, and to be responsible in his feelings, behaviors and practices. These main aspects would form an ideal setting to encourage the designer to work either alone or within a team, with a positive effect and outcomes which will guide him towards creativity.

However, creativity, or lets say “creative thinking”, and problem-solving skills largely depend upon the designer’s ability to organize and classify his information, and extract the important and useful pieces of information. To realize this, he should be acquainted with the required work, his environment, the message he intends to deliver, and the means to execute his ideas. All these would grant him a kind of self-protection and defense to his ideas. He would always be strong to break down his confusion and fear.

When would fear & creativity be created?

Both professional and non-professional designers have their shares in these feelings, no matter where they are or how old they are. It is a quite common phenomenon among workers if this creative field. But, graphic designers would reflect these feelings quite differently from the others. They work with high sense of professionalism and efficiency to convey a certain message to a certain audience, to present a certain service or a product in an attractive and distinctive way. Naturally, it is not necessary that the graphic designer has a belief in what he is creating; instead, he should employ his ideas or deigns to satisfy the desires of the client.

Here comes fear and concern. The good graphic designer may wish to realize perfection in his pieces of arts, by introducing a simple and good idea, a unique theme, unused before, and implementing it in a different way using distinctive techniques. We believe that these are the conditions of any creative work on invention, and they reflect the personality of the inventor himself, and therefore they should contribute to create a state of fear or concern which may lead to some kind of imbalance, they would identify the designer’s potentialities intuition and intelligence in overcoming this ordeal.

We must not ignore the correlation between graphic design and the different aspects of life, i.e. cultural, economic, political, social and other, which keep forcing themselves upon the designer. It would necessitate that he become informative and educated in various aspects of life. This would be a vital requisite in any advertising or media equation. The graphic design has become one of the most significant industries today. It is closely related to information technology and computer sciences. Moreover, a graphic designer is measured by his ability to speaking the Era’s language fluently!

Therefore, we realize that the task if the graphic designer whether he was a student or a worker is very difficult, because it requires a great deal of reading, development, competency, personal abilities, and technical skills. It is not enough that the graphic designer knows how to use the design programs, or software, simply because now every one can master them so easily, but he should be able to develop his techniques and qualifications, just like the driver. Still, the most important thing of all is the ability to create and idea and implementing it. This is and integral part of creativity and which would finally contribute to realize higher expectations. The most creative, informative, conscious, and knowledgeable graphic designers are those who can completely controls their fears and concerns. When a graphic designer reaches that level, he would be so mature and most capable of completing the work even if he was under pressure and would reach creativity at the end.

Unfortunately, fear and concern are a wide spread phenomena among higher studies students of graphic design or designers who explore the labor market. Academically, the state of confusion which the student or the employee undergo is but a part of the fear which the academic plan would create, or the method adopted by the executers of this plan or that. It is also attributed to the absence of accurate specialization among people of graphic design, absence of correct understanding to the identity of the designer to be made, multiple producing bodies of this cadre, lack of a clear strategy to gather all these people and identify the components of the producer (or the type of designer) and the wrong mix between knowledge of computer and concept of graphic design.

People working in the graphic design are living this fear, concern and confusion, and what complicates the matter is the absence of the real criteria of the graphic designers, that is accepted in this realm. Moreover, what add to this problem are the lack of taste among the clients and their ignorance of the role played by the designer, the chaos and disorganization in the market, and the mixing between the academic and the non-academic graphic designer.

However, due to the limited scope of this paper, it wont be proper to address this subject elaborately. I will explore it in another paper.

How to identify the sate of fear among the graphic designers ?

There is some kind of integration between the hidden personality and behaviors of the graphic designer, and what he doesn’t want anyone to about him. Therefore, we are looking for a designer who is a real leader, and who can control his hidden shadow, giving the fact that this shadow is a strong and powerful personality currying a large suitcase, he know what is there inside it, he knows as what he takes out of it, and he knows as well what he can put inside. He should be able not to waste the first part of his life filling that suitcase with things, and wasting the other half emptying the same suitcase ! This is what actually reflects a huge instability, insecurity, and a struggle with the first half of his life.. or just accept it the way it is and try to deal with the other half. !

Designer’s shadow is the mask that he wears to hide many facts.. trying to choose a mask which suits the world he is searching for to gain the acceptance or help.

Indeed, we admit that the designer is like any one else, he also has weaknesses and strengths. The other mask which the designer may wear id the strength factor. It reflects his physical, conceptual, social, economic stability, and which we consider the major components for success and creativity. Doubtless to say that fear helps to intensify a state of physical, psychological and conceptual depression which leads to negative results, especially if the designer does not possess the components to absorb the shock, contain the consequences, correct the matters, and to direct them in a way he deems appropriate.

Encouraging Creativity In Children

All children are born with the potential to be creative. However, their potential can be stifled if we do not take the care to stimulate and nurture that creativity. Our creativity shows who we are as a unique individual. Have you heard the saying – “there is no such thing as can’t.” We can and we will! Creativity is an important facet to any personality. It enables to see things in a different and unusual way. This is an important problem-solving skill throughout anyone’s lifetime – the ability to think of different alternatives to solve a problem. Or to see problems other may not have noticed and come up with effective solutions to those problems.

What is creativity?

Activity

What do you think creativity is? Write a list or short paragraph of how you would define creativity.

What is Creativity?

Creativity is originality, expressiveness, imaginative, to give rise to, to produce, to portray, to give character to, to evolve from one’s own thoughts, to bring into being, to conceive, to parent, to throw together, to give rise to.

There are many different aspects to creativity. It is basically the ability to produce new and useful ideas from everyday objects, and solutions to everyday problems and challenges. It is a translation of gifts and visions to produce something new and useful.

There is no one agreed definition of creativity. Creativity is mainly researched within the field of psychology. In this, it is usually claimed that being creative means being appropriate and novel.

So what are the personality traits of highly creative individuals?

Personality traits of Highly Creative Individuals

Creative individuals will be able to look at every day and familiar things in a new light. They will be able to see things that are out of the ordinary, not obvious.

A highly creative individual will –

1. Produce a wide range of ideas or solutions to problems and questions. Often, they will be unusual or clever.

2. They will show a lot of curiosity about things, constantly asking questions.

3. They will have interests in many different, unrelated areas.

4. They may develop collections of things based on their interests.

5. They may be willing to take risks.

6. May show heightened emotional sensitivity, for example, being particularly sensitive to beauty.

7. Often, they are willing to express their opinions without inhibition.

8. They will be tenacious and persistent about their ideas and projects.

9. Can often be conceived as non-conformist.

10. They may appear chaotic or disordered.

11. They may not seem to be interested in detail.

12. They do not fear being labeled as “different”.

13. May be unwilling to accept authoritarian pronouncements without detailed explanations of
why the pronouncement is correct.

14. Be open to constructive criticism.

15. They will often have a good sense of humour and see humour in situations that may not be obvious to others.

16. Highly creative individuals will often show intellectual play, often daydreaming or imagining. They may come out with new ideas, then are able to modify or improve on their ideas or the ideas of others.

Encouraging Creativity in Children – What not to do

Children develop creativity because of what we SHOW them, not because of what we tell them to do or not do. It is amazingly easy to discourage children from being creative, but why discourage it. It is easy to steal experiences from children, experiences in their culture, education and upbringing, because we do not encourage their creativity. Hennessy and Amabile (1992, Goleman, Kaufman and Ray, 1992 – The Creative Spirit) identified some common “creative killers” that are commonplace in our schools and homes.

Evaluation – Constantly looking at what children are doing, evaluating them, commenting on what they are doing, worrying about what they are doing can make them worry and not realize the value of what they are doing. Also, it can make them lose the enjoyment in the actual process of creating some thing.

Surveillance – You know how you feel when someone is standing over you watching what you are doing? You probably hate it, or start to make mistakes or get flustered. This surveillance or constantly watching children can have the same effect on children. It can make them feel as though they are under constant observation. It may make them resist the opportunity to take risks in their creativity or hide their creative abilities.

Rewards – Offering rewards and motivations for their creativity can reduce the need for the child to create things for creativity’s sake – for the enjoyment of creating something.

Competition – Creativity does not have to be about competition. We all have creative skills in different ways. If we encourage children to compete against each other, to create the best picture etc, it can reduce their creativity. There will always be one picture that is better than the others, there will always be one bit of junk modeling that is better than the others. Anything created by a child should be praised for its own value and worth, not compared to the models or pictures of other children.

Restricting Choice – If we TELL children what activities to engage in, it can reduce their curiosity and passion to create. They should be allowed to explore and experiment with their own creativity and method of production.

Over-Control – If we keep telling children how to do things, how we think they should do things, this can reduce the creativity and originality of the child. It can leave the child feeling that what they are doing is not good enough, a mistake or it is a waste of time trying something new.

Putting Pressure on Children – By putting pressure on children, it can actually give them an aversion to creativity. If we expect amazing results every time a child creates something, this can put unnecessary pressure onto them. This can again restrict their ability to perform or to experiment. Also, if our expectations are too great, it may be because they are beyond the child’s developmental level.

So how can we encourage children to be creative?

1. Encourage children to keep trying – they may be the most creative child in the world, but if they do not keep trying and do not see any task through to completion, we will not know how creative they are and can be.

2. Show appreciation for their efforts – praise them!

3. Try not to help them too much. Resist the temptation to take over or to finish the task for them.

4. Try not to supervise too much. Allow them to be spontaneous. Having self-confidence is essential to the development of their creativity.

5. Provide a creative atmosphere. Allow the child easy access to creative equipment, such as clay, drawing books, pens, paper. Provide them with toys that encourage creativity. If you’re worried that they may start drawing on the wall, ensure that they understand there are only certain areas they can do their “messy” play, such as the kitchen, or conservatory. Tell them often enough and this will sink in.

6. Daydreaming – daydreaming is an important process. It enables the child to imagine things and different outcomes. Some aspects of day dreaming are important for developing problem solving skills. BUT don’t let the child day dream TOO much. If you feel the child is sitting day dreaming too much, ask them to fill you in on their daydreams, perhaps they can lead to fun activities. For example, they tell you part of the day dream, then you fill it in a bit more, then they add a bit more and so on. It can then become a game.

7. Let the child be “different”. Let the child know that there is no “right” answer to a problem, they should be encouraged to be unique and innovative. If it doesn’t work this time, hey, who knows it might work out with another problem.

8. Encourage problem solving and planning in many different areas of their lives. When they solve a problem (or don’t solve it), encourage them to look at why and how they solved it, so they can use the skills in other areas.

9. If the child doesn’t want help, don’t pressurize them, but if they ask, offer them the support they want.

Children, like adults, need rules to live their lives by. Children need to learn to control their behaviour according to the situation and rules of society. There are times and places where creativity may not be important, for example, colouring on the wall with felt pens is obviously not appropriate in most households. However, there should be a balance between the times when children can be creative, explore and experiment. Sometimes choices should be restricted and direct instruction given, but at other times, children should be given the choice to explore and develop their creative abilities. It is important that the child does not go through life only learning about rules and conformity, not creativity and joy.

Creativity Is The Key

“There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.” -Buckminster Fuller

In my opinion, the greatest facet of life, about living is indeed our divine and inborn ability to create, nothing is as fully expansive (far-reaching) and rewarding…nothing! For example… Have you ever watched four and five-year-olds at play? They are starry-eyed, curious and highly creative in their games. They don’t know yet, what they don’t know. Their creative limits have no bounds; no one has impressed upon them that they can’t do something. They’re fearless explorers, artists, or musicians; some are even comedians in the making. They have not yet been pressured to conform and they think they can do anything and that nothing is beyond their capabilities.

Research shows that every human being is capable of creative thought. We have creative abilities that often show up very early in life. Studies show that the average adult thinks of only three to four alternate ideas for any given situation, while the average child can come up with sixty. They have proven that as far as creativity is concerned, quantity equals quality. Having the subjects make a list of ideas, they have shown that the longer the list, the higher the quality of the final solution. The very best ideas usually appear at the end of the list.

Actually, creativity is bred into us as humans; it’s in our genes – a part of our very DNA. Unfortunately, as we grow older, the pressures of having to grow up, go to school, get a job, all seem to repress our creative tendencies. The stress of everyday living, coupled with occasional dilemmas, leaves us too drained to be truly creative.

But creativity is power and is essential to our well-being. Without creativity, our lives become predictable, routine, boring, and pedantic. The good news is we can all be highly creative. Now I know you’re saying, “But I’m not at all creative. I can’t paint or even draw a straight line, I don’t know one note from another, and I’ve never been able to write worth a darn. Poetry? Don’t make me laugh!”
Okay, so most of us are not Edison, DaVinci, Einstein, Mozart, or Shakespeare. However, we are all creative in our own way. We simply have to recognize our own unique talents and skills. Ask yourself these questions:

1. Are you constantly looking for new goals, something new to accomplish?

2. Do you like to look at what already exists and ask “What if?”

3. When you try something new and different, does it make you feel smarter?

4. Do you enjoy teaching someone a new skill?

5. Are you good at problem solving?

Then, pat yourself on the back – you are a “creative” person! Creativity doesn’t always result in a tangible product. Sometimes its ideas, problem solving, or teaching; but it is indeed, creativity in action. Creativity enables us to better ourselves, develop awareness, and expand our horizons as well as those of other people.

When the potential for creativity meets the promise of skill, you’ve made contact with the creative spirit. There’s no holding you back now. You’ve received that divine flash of inspiration, that “aha!” moment of illumination, and you are ready to take those creative risks. This is lucent creation!

Now, you’re probably wondering exactly what it is that you need to do to assure yourself of creative success. You do need certain tools and skills to accomplish this task. First, you need a certain expertise in whatever arena you’ve chosen to pursue your creativity in. If you have zero knowledge in the field of science, odds are you will not make the next fantastic breakthrough in medicine or invent the replacement for the wheel. You must find the field that is your special interest and skill setting. Some expertise is essential for success, believe me I never in a million years thought I would evolve into a motivator, a coach or an inspirator, but guess what…here I am.

The next tool essential for your success is the ability to think creatively in your chosen field – being able to imagine a whole realm of possibilities. That includes the ability to turn things over in your mind until you find the answer. Persistence is required – that determination to keep on tackling a problem until you solve it. Know when to turn things upside down and look at them differently. You must know when to nurture the process of creativity and when to let it rest in your mind until it’s ready to fly free and it might be wise to allow some time for this flow to…flow.

Another vital tool in this search for creativity is courage – to be willing to take the creative risks and try something you’ve never tried before. You have to be open to whatever new possibilities that present themselves to you. You never know when ideas will come.

Finally, you must have passion – the desire to succeed no matter what. It doesn’t matter what the end prize happens to be or what manner of compensation you might receive. The passion is all that’s important – the desire to make whatever works, no matter what. Albert Einstein said, “Sticking to it is the genius.”

Most importantly, you must face any creative risk with the mind of a child, be able to color outside of the lines. Childhood is when creativity first comes to you. Will it grow or be stunted? You should always play like a child.

Children may not realize it, but playtime is actually a learning process. It’s the brain’s favorite way to learn. The child learns about math, verbal skills, music, and visual arts during playtime. They learn to explore and they learn the thrill of discovery. They learn about their own culture and others as well.
So, is it true that children are more creative than adults are?

During the Industrial Revolution, two hundred years ago, this country devised the educational system and started training people to be good little workers and always obey instructions. This didn’t leave much room for individuality or nonconformity in our thinking. The good news is that today’s educational system, for the most part, allows children to be more freethinking and creative.

Childlike creativity should be studied and emulated. Let yourself think that anything, even something outrageous, is possible. This will help you develop creative connections. The non-creative mind says, “I can’t,” but the creative mind says, “I can and here’s how!” If you can see, speak, hear, remember and understand, you too can be creative. Never, ever say you’re not creative. Whatever you believe or disbelieve about yourself, you’re right.

How do you feel about being creative? Do you tie creativity to strange, artsy, or flaky behavior? Do you feel suspicious of those with that description? Or maybe you automatically tie creativity with extremes of madness or psychosis. “I’m too down to earth to be creative!” you proclaim.

Sometimes you are in possession of facts already known to the world at large. The difference is in your organization and interpretation of those facts. Perhaps your creativity lies in your ability to take a room full of people and convince them to make a buying decision. Maybe you’ve saved your company millions of dollars with a single idea. Ever resolved a conflict in your family or company? Guess what? You’re creative!

Maybe you’ve even been told how talented you are in a particular area; you may even know it to be true. So why be shy about it? But what do you do about it? How do you go about unleashing all that talent? How do you nurture it?

Let’s go back to the idea of being more childlike, unhampered by daily life and stress. Let’s play! Grab a drawing pad and colored pencils, and draw circles and patterns. If you have children of your own, borrow one of their coloring books and crayons, and join them in the coloring fun. Make objects of outrageous colors, just as children do. Again, color outside the lines, way outside the lines! Find yourself some clay or Playdoh and start sculpting; it doesn’t have to be anything in particular; just have fun with it. Squish it, cut it, slice it, and then mash in all together again. Try making shapes with the clay.

Now you’re asking, “What on earth is the purpose of all that nonsense?” Well, there is no purpose, you just need to play, have fun, and be free. It’s amazing how much your brain will appreciate this ‘no purpose’ playtime. You suddenly discover that you’re more relaxed. You may even feel happy. Even your breathing rhythm is different while you’re playing. Instead of the short, shallow breaths you take when you’re stressed, you’re now breathing deeply. You’re not experiencing the ‘fight or flight’ sensation. You’re totally relaxed. You need to push the worries and stress aside once in a while. Do not worry about problems or deadlines, and just play, with no purpose whatsoever.

Just a few minutes a day of the ‘no purpose’ play will make a world of difference in your creativity, problem solving, mediating, teaching, or anything else that you do. You’ll soon realize it’s time to take that talent to the next level, so let that creativity come out more often and let yourself go. Stephen Nachmanovitch once said, “The most potent muse of all is our own inner child.”

Keep in mind though, that talent is not enough. Let me repeat this. You must have absolute passion and discipline to develop your creativity. You must be dedicated to commit to your talent.
What does the word creative make you think about? Breathtaking art? Totally original thinking? Exciting musical composition? Astonishing inventions? Have you let yourself believe that it’s impossible for you to be creative?

You may have let yourself become a creature of habit over the years. Have you condemned yourself to be incapable of creative thought? Perhaps you’ve been stuck in a rut or boring routines, and you feel that you couldn’t possibly be capable of change.

Now, imagine how your life would be if you’re allowed to live it creatively, every day. You know you’re creative and talented. What if the world around you treated you as such and you were allowed to nurture that talent, enhance your skills, and give your creative personality the attention it needs and deserves? You’d trust your own creative passions, be capable of solving any problem, and embrace your own creativity as a part of your very life – one of the necessary components to your happiness and mental health.

15 Foundations for Facilitating Creativity at Work

The following are lessons learned and insights gleaned from my trial and error of facilitating creative process with hundreds of individuals and organizations over the past 12 years. It requires a different focus, skill set, way of being and “container creation” than facilitating analytical processes. Below are some of the many principles and practices I’ve learned or discovered that work.

Dynamic Balance and Facilitating Creativity in the Workplace

1. Set intention and embody purpose. Get clear on your intention – not only from a business perspective, (i.e., leave with a Strategic Plan), but also from the human element. Creative process in human beings is organic, and contains emotional energy. In fact, the more passion and inspiration, the deeper and more coherent the creativity that emerges. If you intend to support the growth, creativity and awareness of those you serve, you facilitate from a more meaningful place than if focused only on the business goal. If you take time, both in the program design and in the room when facilitating, to think about what is the service you are providing – the gift you are offering – it frees up your own creativity more to support that in your facilitation. Focusing solely on the task limits the creative potential. By genuinely focusing on what is yours to GIVE, (not how you come across doing it), participants pick that up – either consciously or unconsciously – and are more receptive to trying new things with you. Creative Facilitation adds some new “yes-ands” to what already works.

2. Focus on awareness in addition to what happens. Focusing on the awareness aspect allows it to be transformative. In all facilitation, the debrief can be one of the most powerful parts. It integrates the learnings and serves as a bridge to what’s next. In debriefing creative process, focus on what was going on INSIDE of the participants as well as what actually was created OUTSIDE in the room. This leads to self-awareness, which increases the chances of continued creativity and co-creativity after the workshop, program, or process is over. The more aware participants become of what emerges within themselves as they create – both what was most alive as well as what was most challenging – the easier it is to continue to navigate and cultivate their creativity beyond the workshop setting.

3. Understand the normal resistance that occurs with navigating the unfamiliar. Resistance is a healthy, natural part of the creative process. It only becomes unhealthy when it is allowed to block the process (by overemphasizing it and spending too much time engaging it, or by not acknowledging it all and trying to barrel past it). Be prepared for resistance to show up. It’s usually a result of fear of entering the new territory, and it can show up in a myriad of forms – deflection, sarcasm, distraction, disengagement or, most often and most subtly, talking about what is already known. It’s not something to be pushed down or avoided, but rather something to be acknowledged and moved through if it shows up. Acknowledgment ahead of time gives it permission to follow it natural course when and if it emerges. It is the natural “contraction” to balance the creative expansion. You find this in all of nature’s creativity. The flower feels the resistance of the bud most just before it blossoms.

4. “Fail” gracefully – be comfortable with messing up. This is a great lesson from improv theater. Improvisers do not see mistakes as static failures. Instead, we see them as dynamic invitations to learn in real time and an opportunity to create something new. To authentically learn how to deepen your experience in facilitating a transformational creative process requires you to be the explorer as well. Unlike facilitation that relies on what is known, creativity depends elements of the unknown. You can better facilitate that which you’re willing to experience for yourself. Applied creativity has vulnerability attached to it as being experimental means being vulnerable. And, that means something you try may not work, or may work differently than you had anticipated. Go with it. USE that information as feedback to either refine for the future, or, in that moment, to take the group to another place. The facilitator’s discomfort with the challenges of creativity can inhibit the group’s creative process. (If you can take an improv class, do it…it’s the quickest way I know to free yourself of the “the fear of failure” and develop a comfort with thinking on your feet.)

5. Adapt in real time. There’s always a dynamic balance between creating enough structure and releasing. If you as a facilitator need to control the process, do whatever you can on your free time to get comfortable with letting go, shifting gears, and modifying the agenda in real time. Use the real-time feedback loop: engage, get feedback, modify; engage, get feedback, modify, etc. It’s an ongoing process, and like with all things, takes practice to embody. Do this enough and it becomes comfortable and easy…and alive! In fact, you will get to a point where it takes more energy to try to stick to the exact plans than to follow the creative aliveness of what is trying to emerge in the room. Be ready to adjust your “agenda” at any time for what is REALLY going in the room. Otherwise, you can get engagement, and even expanded perspectives, but generally no real novelty. Novelty contains an unpredictability within it, and to facilitate creative process means adapting to that unpredictability in real time. May as well have fun with it:-)

6. Work from your own Creative Edges, not your comfort zone. This creates a palpable dynamic aliveness in the room. You are all in it together. This may seem antithetical to our “expertise” culture. The paradox is that you must still deeply know and understand what you are doing before you enter the room, but then once in the room, hold it loosely and respond in real time. Be in your own unknown – a co-discoverer instead of the expert on their creativity. Allow yourself to be surprised. Don’t limit them, or yourself, by your creativity experience or pre-existing assumptions. While you are the one creating the container and holding the space, this role is balanced with your own openness to what emerges. Creative facilitation is an open system.

7. Respect creative style diversity. To further expound on #6, one size, approach, method, technique, or even paradigm does not fit all. One creativity model definitely does not fit all. Understand that each person in that room is at a different comfort level, and will have a unique relationship with the creative process. Each carries unique and different stories of creativity in his or her consciousness. You give them tools and techniques as entry points, but be ready to let their creativity show you ways of creating that you can’t imagine. This expands your own Creative Practices repertoire.

8. Understand patterns found in the creative process. This allows you to facilitate during times of resistance. Another paradox: while each person has different creating styles and approaches that work for them, there are also re-occurring universal patterns that tend to emerge in a creative process. The deepest understanding comes from your OWN experimentation and learning, and will most likely be refined over time. Start with what you know, and open up to being “yes-anded” all the time. Look for patterns, not just techniques. Techniques only get you so far…patterns and principles allow you to create new techniques on and ongoing basis. Start where you are, be gentle with yourself as you learn, and learn from direct experience. Insights that emerge from experience and observation are give you a real-time agility that book learning alone cannot offer.

9. Embrace dynamic balance. Divergence AND convergence. Left AND right brain. Structure AND flow. Reflection AND action. That is one of the re-occurring themes in this post because it permeates all of creative process…and the complexity of being human. Creativity is filled with paradox. Setting up conditions for creativity is as well. Like with all natural systems, every situation, project, and group has a dynamic balance that will allow the most amount of creativity to emerge in that situation. Too rigid keeps the creativity bound; too loose, it gets unfocused. There is a balance between structure and flow. This is why whole brain practices are needed…the right brain to access NEW levels of ideas and information, and the left to discern and organize it.

10. Allow for self-organization when facilitating a group project. Inherent in the creative process is a self-organization found in all of nature. You see this all the time in improvised jazz or improv theater…something larger than the sum of the parts emerges and it is a coherent whole and unexpected. It is similar to the experience you have in those moments when everything just seems to effortlessly come together in a brilliant, yet totally unexpected, way. This possibility always exists in any group. One key is to not over-control the experience and allow enough space for the next level of creativity to emerge in the room. This takes some trust in the creative process itself…and practices recognizing, like in an improv performance, when you need to step up and lead, or step back and follow. Without question, groups have the capacity to self-organize around a creative task – a collective creative intelligence can take over that is larger than any one person’s idea. You have nature on your side. We are natural meaning-makers, and creativity is naturally self-organizing. By balancing both directing and following in real time, you can more naturally moving to higher levels of coherence, meaning, and sense. (All “Aha’s” are deeply grounded in common sense at their new level). We have simply been socialized, educated, and trained to over-plan. Instead, we can learn how to work WITH the natural creative process.

11. Seek to make it safe, not comfortable. Safety will allow people to open up and move into unknown territory without the fear of criticism, failure. Too much stability, and nothing new emerges. Asking people to share what they already know is different than guiding them into their unknown. On the other side, without doing the “container creating” to make it safe, taking people in too deep too soon can throw them into chaos and they will shut down – and they lose trust in you. In either case, nothing new emerges. Find the balance of the Creative Zone – the place of creative potential between stability and chaos. Create a safe space AND guide your participants into new territory, which can be uncomfortable. Discomfort is a normal part of the creative process. In fact, if everyone is the room is entirely comfortable the whole time, chances are you did more of an information gathering process than a creative one.

12. Fun is functional. There is more research emerging all the time that shows how fun, play, and “lightening up” have a serious role to play in increasing creative thinking and establishing creative work culture – not just as an outlet to do on your free time, but as a driver to navigating change and working on serious challenges in work and life. It frees the brain to think more creativity, and frees the energy in the room for more effective and safe collaboration. In fact, I have not come across any research anywhere that points to not having fun and not being playful as a more effective way of living and creating. To facilitate creativity requires accessing and being comfortable with having fun yourself. And, knowing how to bring it in purposefully, and in a way it can be accepted (and not shut people down). It’s different for every group and every culture. Once you access your own “deep fun” self, you have more choice on what methods to use and how. As with all facilitation, know your audience.

13. Your inner stories directly impact the container you create for others. Check out all the stories you carry around creativity, fun and play. Do you hold them as separate from a business bottom line? Most of us grew up with the programming that creativity is something you do on your free time after the “real work” is done. Facilitating Applied Creativity carries a new story – that it is an essential part of the real work. It is more than something fun to open up a group, but actually something to help transform individuals, groups, teams and organizations; create a thrivable work culture, and feed the bottom line. Do you carry a story that creativity is for the domain of the arts…or do you know it to be present, in infinite abundance, for every person, group and system? What stories do you carry about yourself as a Creator? In knowing yourself as a Creator, and knowing that you are walking into a room filled with other Creators (whether they are aware of it or not) allows you to help facilitate a new story for those in the room.

14. Diverge…and Converge with discernment. Facilitating transformational creativity requires your presence, adaptability, agile thinking…AND discernment. Discernment keeps whatever emerges in the room focused on the objectives, relevant, and purposeful…not just random creative [removed]unless that is your goal). This means having processes for Convergence as well as Divergence. Divergence explores, discovers, yes-ands, and accepts to expand the playing field – the increase the field of potential from which to draw. Convergence discerns, focuses, fleshes out, uses what is relevant and leaves the rest. As with each of these points, the dynamic balance is the key: expand, contract; explore, refine; value logic and intuition; planning and spontaneity. Most people naturally gravitate to more comfort with diverging or converging…find out which is your preference and practice giving more time and attention to the other. 



15. Prepare yourself with pre-workshop creativity rituals. Creativity, by its nature, contains a lot of energy and newness. Facilitating novelty is not “business as usual.” It’s about leading a group into the non-habitual. It requires being resilient, agile, compassionate and an “expedition guide.” Taking some time to do whatever you need to enter your own non-habitual state first can makes a significant difference. One of the best ways to do that is by taking some alone time before the facilitation, to do pattern-breaking exercises to increase your own energy and become present, alert, and responsive. The more of the whole-brain – and whole-body! – you bring in, the better.

Creative Writing Techniques – Learn Writing Skills Fast

Introduction to Creative Writing Techniques

In this century, ideals no longer have as much control over reality as it was taught to have been by great thinkers like Plato and Aristotle. Emphasis these days has shifted from what “ought to be” to “what is”.

Consequently, a thousand and one media now exist, all transmitting and disseminating information but with little communication. Little communication because everyone has become a media in himself/herself thus the conventional mass media though have great impact still, but are only chosen according to each man’s self-augmenting needs.

In this era world over, socio – economic systems no longer reward anybody for his/her labour, rather every one sells himself and his abilities out to get him/her rewarded.

You are therefore, daily accustomed to seeing young men and women carrying gadgets of social communication, including laptop and note book computers, enabled telecommunications handsets that do not only allow easy and efficient accessibility to business partners, consumers and clientele, but also serve as ready modems to the World Wide Web.

The challenge every individual must face now is how to be relevant in the stiff competition that has arisen from modern trends, in order to make his/her ideas and personality sell. As it must be insinuated from the scratch, that no one makes your point for you if you fail to make it; you are simply left out.

On this note, when you hear, read about or actually know someone personally who you assume is asserting the rights of the less privileged, wisdom demands that you look again, as you will see that they are only agitating for their share and more of what the “system avails”.

Furthermore, in this century, one can’t ignore the fact that his level of exposition to relevant information determines his/her level of transformation, which in turn, determines his/her overall success.

It is undeniably glaring therefore, that to stay above the floods and hold sway in his/her field, everyone must, in these times, must necessarily acquire skills in self-expression. This is what makes it important for everyone to understand the basic techniques of creative writing.

So, whether as a student with huge interest in skill acquisition to critique, create and analyse creative writings, or perhaps your interest lies only in the appreciation of a particular genre for pleasure, this article is baited to improve your outlook, as it contains a concise, yet elaborate practicable guide as well as academically sound perspective to self-development in creative thinking that will prune your writing skills.

What is creative writing?

The term “creative writing” suggests the idea of making to exist by writing. However, the process of creative writing goes beyond the incubation of ideas to create a notable world. As a field, it encompasses every acceptable technique and methodology of self-expression, by which your creation achieves beauty and at the same time, achieves meaningful communication in reflecting human situation as universally empirical.

However, while being empirical in science may mean a pattern of strict adherence to a prescribed process of understudying phenomena, in creative thinking, this refers to the fact that whatever world you create by your writings must be similar with human experience enough to stimulate desired emotional response in a dimension that everyone who has had a similar experience would be able to identify with the characters and social situation created in your works.

Based on the above, creative writing may be seen as a means/tool of presenting in a manner to achieve pleasure/entertainment, inform or teach a lesson informally and to achieve beauty without undermining the universally accepted standards of and devices of self-expression and presentation.

Creative structures

That creative writing is creative alone disqualifies the word structure in its literal meaning. Not that it has nothing to do with its physique, but structure in creative writing is deemphasised from the physical form of having a head up, hind limbs behind and trunk at the centre.

Here, what it implies is that there are ideal features a creative piece must have, and not the order of occurrence of these features.

Broadly, every creative work of art has some type of the following:

• Introduction – a catchy, interesting beginning that must say what it is all about, why it is important and possibly how it is presented. In complex works, you may need to detail introduction to include explanations to certain functional concepts.

• Connection – were we to compare this to an animal, connection should be a neck, as it links the introductory with the body of the piece. This could be a maxim, figurative expression or connected sentences that accurately serve as build up to introduction and foundation to the body. Using connective terms here always makes it easy for digestion.

• Explanation – the body of your creative piece accommodates all details. The devices used must all be weaved together to create a beautiful image with lasting impact.

• Conclusion – this may just be a couple of sentences tied in to the piece and corroborating the entire work from alpha to omega, or may be a quote, a short story or whatever device your creativity dictates.

For the purpose of emphasis, take it again that the order and style of these rely extensively on your creativity as a writer. It is your duty to choose a style most suitable to your work.

Elements of construction

Achieving creative masterpieces requires a writer as creator of worlds and scenarios to know understand and adhere to the elements or techniques of writing. These elements discussed here are what make or unmake your writings.

• Universal standards/landmarks: like the creative writer of the Stone Age, the modern man must recognise the existence of certain acceptable standards that are practised all over the world. In as much as the arts have no formulae, there are yardsticks that will make your piece either good or bad. Believe it or not, not minding your mechanical accuracy, people know when work is good or bad and they will tell you by the way they react to it.

Telling a good and interesting story alone does not make your work fit for eternity but to these, you must synchronise the ancient landmarks of the profession.

If for instance, your genre is poetry, not minding the incidence of the “free verse”, landmarks should be seen as opportunity to express yourself beautifully and meaningfully rather than an obstacle to avoid. You can try to imagine what poetry would be without figurative expressions and the use of such devices as rhyme, rhythm, and meter etcetera. The poet must know the basic types of poetic designs that have been identified and their respective features, as his/hers must fall into one category or another.

Otherwise you will end up writing chopped -up prose for poetry.

This also goes for all other genres; the creative writer must identify the archetypical landmarks and standards in the field and play by the rules.

• Functionalism: the creative principle of functionalism does not imply similar meaning as the sociological philosophy that everything plays a specific role in society. Creative functionalism means that there are functions or roles that literature as a mother field for creative works, is expected to perform. For your work to be seen as creative, it must fulfil at least one of these functions of literary scholarship:

a) Preservation and refreshment of language and culture – it is the duty of literature as a way of life to preserve the language we speak, cultural values and practices. Language here does not mean dialect, not that literature does not preserve or refresh dialect, but the emphasis should be on its ability to retain expressions that were used thousands of decades back for generations yet unborn.

It is also the most articulated means by which to know the history and culture of every group, whether written or passed by word of mouth. Also the manner and style of literary presentations makes otherwise ordinary language interesting, lovely and tasty in the mouth and ear both to the speaker and the one who hears. Therefore, as a creator of worlds, when you put your world together, it is necessary that you provide refreshment to expressions.

For example, you could say in your writing that “it is now obvious that Dennis and Juliet have a relationship beyond casual”. Another way of offering same rendition is this; “it stares you in the face that Dennis’ hand shake with Juliet is well beyond the elbow”. The two statements share the same meaning but one of them, the latter, is more pleasurable to hear and to say. Also, it says more volumes than the former.

b) Entertainment – more than anything, people patronise creative works for their entertainment value. This is not to scare, but to hint that the fastest way to buy audience’s/fans’/consumers’ hearts as well as their pockets is giving them entertaining pieces that are interesting enough to relax the nerves.

In the past, research has shown, people read more in the past than they now do. Why? Because the shift of emphasis to material accumulation has left majority of people with no time to read, as books require full attention to decipher.

Audio music on the other hand, receives more patronage because it in itself creates room for one to combine with financial and other activities. For this reason, the streets like the offices are alive with men and women whose ears are plugged with one audio device or another -simply because the audio media allows you to receive entertainment while working, driving or sleeping, which the book does not permit. This singular point poses a greater challenge to the creators of music, without undermining other branches of creative writing. As the world designates lesser time for entertainment by the day, the challenge is to continue to meet the entertainment needs of targeted audience.

Simply put, your work must entertain if it is creative enough so if you are wondering how to write creatively, one way is to dwell on subjects, ideas and characters that have entertainment values. More so because the world of today is too serious pursuing money that without creative writer to cushion the effect of hard labour, many will go nuts, as “all work and no play…”

c) Standpoint – majority, if not all creative works are a response to a particular social situation. Script writers for audio, video theatrical productions as well as poets, novelists and playwrights build up illusionary worlds with their characters and scenarios, simulating real life situations and suggesting ways of either solving or worsening identified problems.

This ties us in to the function of literature to teach, inform and educate. And this role is not done through the usual school type of pedagogues’ teaching but done using creative ways.

How to Lead Your Creative People – Why That’s Important and What to Do About It

Being creative is sexy. Everybody is talking about it and everybody is doing it. Being creative is the new black.

And in business, being creative is even sexier. Why? Because being creative drives business. It adds real value to a business. Value to its people, value to its customers, and value to its bottom line.

Log onto any business website, such as Business Week or Harvard Business Review, search for ‘creativity’, and you’ll find a plethora of articles. In his book Flight of the Creative Class, [1] Richard Florida points out that in the US alone, workers in the creative sector make up 30% of the workforce and earn nearly 50% of the money. Being creative is not some whimsical, intangible thing – it’s a major business tool.

Intrinsically, we all understand this.

The Creativity Gap But there is a problem – because there is a gap. There’s a gap between the value an organization places on being creative and its ability to tap into its creative resources to fully use the talents of its creative people.

How do we know this? Because we asked. Recently, we conducted a survey of both business leaders and creative people [2]. One of the questions we asked was, ‘In business, should creativity have a commercial value?’ Pretty straightforward and, as you would expect, most people answered yes – 90%, in fact. Not surprising, when you think about it. In the commercial world, creativity just isn’t that useful unless it leads to a positive business outcome.

BUT… the surprise was the result from another fairly straightforward question: ‘Do you fully utilize the talents of your creative people?’ Only 17% of people answered yes!

I don’t know about you, but that rings alarm bells for me.

On the one hand, business emphatically understands the need for creativity to be commercially valuable – yet 83% don’t make full use of their creative people’s abilities and wisdom to achieve this. What’s even more amazing is that they know they don’t!

It’s like building a bridge across a canyon to get a heap of stuff to the other side, but only using 17% of that bridge’s capacity. You’d have to limit how much you carry across or do multiple trips. Either way, it’s inefficient: you’re not making full use of a very useful bridge. You wouldn’t utilise only 17% of the bridge’s capacity, so why only 17% of your organization’s creative capacity?

The Challenge

The answer lies in the challenge that faces creative organizations. The challenge is not actually to find creative people and it’s not to teach your people how to be more creative. The real challenge facing creative organizations is knowing how to lead your creative people – your innovative thinkers. It is knowing how to tap into their talents, harness their genius, and direct it towards viable business outcomes.

Hollywood is a great example of this. Why? Because Hollywood is all about the business of creativity. It taps into the potential of very creative and very clever people, it lets them do their thing, but it directs and funnels that potential to become commercially successful. When we think of Hollywood, we often think of the actors, directors, writers, set designers – all of whom are immensely creative. But we also need to focus on the producer. Their role is to bring the creative talents of those people together, let them do what they do best, but then steer it and direct it so that the film pays dividends.

Like it or not, Hollywood is about making money from creative people. And that’s not a bad thing: it allows many talented people to do what they love doing. Sure, you can train up your actors, directors, and set designers (and you should) but the key to business results is to orchestrate their talents and genius. It’s important to focus on building individual talents, but it’s even more important to focus on building the right leadership skills, the right environment, and the right processes that allow your creative people to thrive – with all their creativity, thoughts, and ideas. That is where the future gold of your business resides.

Monkeys, Zoos, and Ducks To do that, you need to consider three things.

1. Leadership

Leading creative people is a completely different game. It’s like herding monkeys.

2. A Creative Environment.

You need to build an environment that supports and stimulates creativity. You need to build a Creative Zoo.

3. The Right Creative Process

You need to have a process in place where coming up with ideas is like shooting ducks at a carnival.

Herding Monkeys – Leadership Leading creative people is like herding monkeys. Creatives often appear to be all over the place, off in a world of their own, but they’re also very communal and enjoy hanging out with other creative types. They’re brilliant at slinging stuff; they’re always throwing ideas, designs, and concepts around. They are incredibly smart. And we need them.

They think, feel, and act very differently, so leading them requires a different set of leadership skills. We need to know and understand what frustrates them, what motivates them, and how to help them be their best.

So the old style of leadership, where you rally the troops and expect them to follow you as you head off into the wilderness with your blunderbuss in one hand and a machete in the other, simply won’t work with creatives. You need to be a conductor – someone who knows how to orchestrate their talents and bring them together in a beautiful symphony.

That takes understanding and it takes vision.

You need to understand how creative people work, what they need, and what obstacles you need to break down. In many ways, the leader’s role is to support and guide, not interfere or constrain.

You also need to have and maintain a vision, to ensure that their talents are directed towards your and your client’s expectations and goals. They need to know what the task at hand is. Robert Davis of Davis Advertising Inc, [3] put this beautifully when he said, ‘My job is to develop and communicate my vision.’

Creatives love having clear direction, knowing what the rules of the game are and what boundaries to play within. But they also need the freedom to figure out how to get it done. Part of the leader’s job is to be very clear in setting those guidelines and establishing the vision. But the leader also has to be brave enough and smart enough to let their creative teams do what they do best without getting in the way – just steering and guiding them occasionally when they get off-track.

It’s like standing on a mountain and telling your people that you need to get across the valley. Let them figure out how – it’s what they do best.

To lead creative people effectively you need to be a nurturer and custodian of their talents. You need to be a mentor and a coach. You need to know how to empower them, guide them, earn their respect, and let them play. The last thing you want to be is their boss.

Perhaps we should change the word ‘lead’ to ‘nurture’ or ‘empower’ or ‘be guardian of’ and perhaps we should change the term ‘Creative Leader’ to ‘Creative Conductor’.

Creating Zoos – the creative environment You also need to provide your creatives with the right environment that will support and stimulate their creativity. You need to create the Zoo.

A good Creative Zoo is a place where creative people love to hang out. It’s where they feel they belong and can interact with other creative people. It’s a place where they feel inspired and are free to try new things, explore possibilities. A good creative environment is a place where people can take creative risks, make mistakes, and put ideas on the table without fear of ridicule.

A really good creative environment is not just about providing your team with the resources they need, but about giving them the permission they need to do what they do best: be creative.

How do you do that? Is there a standard template or design for the Zoo? Not really. It will vary for everyone. But certain attributes have to be in place to make it work.

Space

Your physical environment greatly affects your mindset, so having the right physical space is vital. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need surreal rooms full of beanbags; it does mean you need a space conducive to being creative. You need to have a place that stimulates creativity

Time

Let’s face it: the creative process doesn’t work 9 to 5. It needs time to do its thing. So leaders need to harness its potential by providing environments that let their creative people be flexible with time. Am I saying come and go as you please? No, but there needs to be a certain amount of flexibility to harness to your creative advantage.

Resources

Whatever you do, you need to have the right tools. Providing your creative teams with the right resources is vital. As Robyn Munro, Marketing Director of Atlassian, points out, ‘We give them (creatives) awesome resources to do their jobs with – fast computers, large monitors, comfy Aeron chairs.’ [4]

Exploration

You also need to allow your creatives to explore and be open to new possibilities, because from possibilities come great ideas. Alan Fletcher [5] talks about the need to be like helicopters. – about seeing the terrain of a problem from many different angles, hovering over details but soaring high to see the whole picture. Allow your creatives to be helicopters by building them heliports.

Creative Risk

One of the biggest frustrations creatives have, believe it or not, is working for organizations that are risk-averse and have a low tolerance for failure. To be creative and explore possibilities, you need to step out and take creative risks. Again, this is something that Atlassian understands well, according to Robyn Munro: ‘We try to create an environment where it’s okay to try something and fail.’

Creating the Zoo is about building the right environment to allow them to thrive, not about caging your creatives up and restricting their abilities.

Shooting Ducks – the Creative Process Lastly, you need a process in place where coming up with ideas is like shooting ducks at a carnival. Because, when you think about it, there’s no shortage of ducks. They just keep on coming. The trick – the art – is knowing how to hit the ducks, and even more importantly, hit the ducks that will pay you the really big prize.

As a young lad, I wanted to be a filmmaker. I remember attending a seminar with film producer Michael Weiss (of Dirty Dancing fame, among others) and he was talking about how to get a project up. He said that you need to keep talking about your ideas, partner with others, just keep banging away. Someone then asked, ‘What happens if someone steals your idea?’

His answer was brilliant; it summed up a very real issue about being creative. He said (and I paraphrase, because this was a long time ago) ‘Firstly, you should be very happy you’ve had an idea worth stealing. And secondly, go find another one, because the world is full of ideas.’

I just love that. I love it so much, because it is true. The world is full of ideas. Ideas are everywhere and it isn’t actually hard to come up with them – you can find people who do that brilliantly, you can teach your people to do it better still, you can even pay someone else to do it for you.

The issue is not coming up with ideas, it’s coming up with ideas that make a difference. That’s another matter altogether. Yes, you need to set the ducks in motion, but the real talent lies in hitting the right ones and hitting them consistently.

To do that, you need to have the right processes in place.

Alarmingly, most organizations don’t! When asked in our survey, ‘Does your organization have a process in place to harness and direct creativity?’ 47% answered no and only 31% answered yes.

This is partly because so much about creativity is intangible. It simply isn’t black and white; it’s full of contradiction and paradox. The very notion of locking into a ‘process’ is often seen as restrictive. And indeed, if you adopt a cookie-cutter step-by-step approach it can be.

But creativity thrives on structure. So you need to have a process that knows when to turn the creative controls on and off. A process that allows your creative people to explore and play, to think intangibly in order to find possibilities – but which then funnels and steers those possibilities towards tangible ideas and solutions.

Hitting the Creative Sweet Spot Here’s the exciting bit. If you get each of those three things working together and in harmony, what you’ll discover is a beautiful, creative sweet spot. When you hit the sweet spot, everything just clicks and works synchronistically.

This is where everything seems to falls into place. Where being creative, seeing possibilities, and coming up with really good ideas is simply part of what you do. Where everyone, on all levels, works together and understands each other’s role and value. I know that to a certain extent it’s a utopian ideal, but it’s worth striving for. And even if you get close, this is where creativity really rocks.

The Psychology of Creativity

On studying the creative process and the creative individual to understand creativity

Creativity is the process of generating novel ideas and is the basic force for all inventions. The process of creation involves seeing new relations between concepts and things and determining unique solutions to problems. The creative process is about seeing new associations between objects and concepts and the creative person is marked by traits of originality, nonconformity and high levels of knowledge. When you come out with an appropriate yet unique and different solution to a problem that has not been thought before, you are being creative.

Psychologists have tried to explain creativity with many theories. Among these are cognitive theories of creativity (creativity as a cognitive process using mental constructs and structures), behaviorist theories (the environmental and associative nature of creative ideas), psychoanalytic theories (creativity as neuroticism), social theories (creativity as a social process and role of schools and family in the development of gifted children) and personality theories (emphasizing on personal creative traits).

In the psychology of creativity we have to understand two things -firstly the creative process and secondly the creative individual. So the psychology of creativity is about:

1. The Creative Process – this includes the definitions of creativity and the mental processes involved in creativity.

2. The Creative Individual – this is about the personality traits of the creative individual, the attributes of genius and the peculiarities of the creative personality

Psychological theories have tried to explain both the creative process and the creative individual.

The Process of Creativity – So what is creativity and what is the mechanism through which people actually create new ideas, solutions or concepts? According to many theorists, creativity is about chance or serendipity or making discoveries by ‘accident’. So the creative process, according to this explanation is an ‘accident’. This means that while you’re trying out several methods, a best method or a solution to your problem arises out of nowhere and by chance you discover something totally unique. Some people would suggest that the creative process is more of trying to find out new relations between older known concepts so this is less about originality and more about ‘experience’. The more experienced you are in a particular subject area, the more likely you are to consider creative solutions. Creativity has also been described as a moment of ‘insight’. It is almost like enlightenment and divine intervention and a flash and the trick is to prolong this moment and creative individuals are people who can develop their sudden insights. So the creative process can be about a sudden chance, novel use of the knowledge/ experience or a sudden insight. The creative process thus involves using several possibilities/methods and past experiences to arrive at sudden solutions through insights or accidents.

In 1926, Graham Wallas described stages of creativity in which a creative idea is first prepared, then internalized through incubation, after which the creative individual uses the illumination or insight to finally go through the verification process of applying the idea. Psychologist JP Guilford explained creativity with his concept of convergent and divergent thinking and convergent thinking is about trying to find the single correct solution to a problem and divergent thinking is the generation of multiple creative solutions to a problem. Creativity is thus characterized by divergent thinking and generation of multiple possibilities. According to the Geneplore model developed by Finke, Ward and Smith (1992), creativity involves two phases – the generative phase in which the individual generates constructs from pre-inventive structures or known processes/ideas and the exploratory phase in which pre-inventive structures are interpreted to come up with new creative ideas. Most of these psychological theories seem to be emphasizing on preexisting mental structures through knowledge and experience and using these structures for novel or unique solutions. The creative process is thus all about insight, ‘a sudden flash’, almost like a moment of realization and it has been described as serendipity or divine intervention by scientists and artists alike who have tried to described their moment of discovery, although the role of previous knowledge and experience is an equally important background factor. The scientists and artists are able to realize the potential of these ‘flashes’ and are able to recognize, capture and prolong their moments of insight for better realization of their creative goals.

The Personality in Creativity – This brings us to the question about the traits or personality factors that make a person creative. Is there a well-defined creative personality? Of course, there is. Highly creative individuals and geniuses have marked similar traits and although every human being is creative in one way or the other, some individuals actually develop their creativity too well and so they are recognized as creative geniuses. Psychologists believe that all highly creative individuals have certain common personality traits.

1. Complexity – The creative individuals love complex situations and problems as this provides a challenge to their own mental abilities and help them to think of several possible solutions

2. Flexibility – Highly creative individuals are extremely open-minded and receptive to new ideas and possibilities which help them to move beyond traditional modes of thinking

3. Confidence – Boldness and confidence mark the creative genius as in order to be a pioneer, one has to have leadership qualities, extreme self-confidence and creative geniuses are leaders as they show a new path and open new possibilities

4. Non-conformity – The creative process itself is an act of non-conformity so creative individuals are non-conformists and unconventional.

5. Intuition – Highly creative people are extremely intuitive and they can scare you with their ability to read minds and people’s thoughts. That is how they can create as they have to know the order of things and are able to predict people’s responses.

6. Sensitivity – Creative individuals have well developed sensitivity as without extreme sensitivity, it is not possible to feel and portray the emotions through creative work. A novelist has to know ‘how it feels’ to be character in his novel otherwise he cannot create a good novel.

7. Curiosity – An insatiable child-like curiosity for almost everything around them is what characterizes the creative genius. The creative individual wants to know and learn new things and is persistently asking questions and this is the fuel for creative growth.

8. Knowledge – Closely associated with curiosity, creative individuals have very good general knowledge as they have to use this knowledge in their creative pursuits. That is why creative people are usually interested in several subject areas.

9. Independence – One trait that definitely characterizes very high creative geniuses is their independence of thought. This is again related to leadership and nonconformity as in order to think independently, one has to move beyond norms.

10. Imagination – The creative person lives in his own world of imagination and has a very highly developed and enriched mental life and even if grounded, sometimes thrives on fantasies.

11. Impulsiveness – Since the creative process is a sudden realization, the creative individual has a love for suddenness and loves to work on impulse. Creating something new is an adventure so impulsiveness which could be recklessness or adventurousness makes the creative individual a compulsive risk-taker.

12. Criticism – Highly creative people are also extremely critical both of themselves and of others. They criticize others and that is how they take new paths and they are also prone to extreme self-criticism.

13. Fluency – The creative person has an extremely fluent thought process and has a prolific range of ideas

14. Charm – The genius is usually characterized by a humorous nature, extreme charm and personal attractiveness and a ‘presence’ that makes them popular and attractive to all sorts of people.

15. Egoism – Highly creative individuals usually have a ‘me first’ attitude and are almost always narcissists or marked by extreme egoism, although they may be very generous and may not reveal their egoism for social reasons and many even transcend the self boundary and work for greater causes.

16. Originality – Creative individuals have a love for the novel and the unique and try moving beyond established ideas to find something radically different

17. Disorder – A love for disorder is common among all creative people as they are apparently bored with order or any predictable course of events

18. Ambiguity – Uncertainty is very attractive for creative individuals and they love the ambiguous or when there are two or more ways of explaining a problem, especially because this gives them freedom of thought and expression.

19. Loneliness – The creative individual is usually a loner and according to psychoanalysis, also a neurotic. The genius is perennially isolated from society and being very uncomfortable with social norms, they tend to avoid social interaction. Political and social leaders are however more socially active than the creative artist and writer, although some tend to lead reclusive lives.

20. Motivation – The creative individuals are extremely motivated, almost driven by a sense of higher purpose in life. They are in a way self aware and enlightened and many of them seem to believe in an unexplained (divine) purpose of existence.

There are of course other traits as creative people are characterized by hyperactivity and obsession with their work, high yet sublimated sexual drives, and according to psychologist Sternberg, wisdom rather than simply intelligence.

Practice Creativity

Imagine someone asking you “How many hours a week do you spend working?” or “What do you do?” you are likely to answer something like, “I am a full-time student and I work part-time at a department store,” or “I am a full-time mom of three boys,” or I am a professor,” or “I am a computer analyst”, etc. Your answer describes the daily routine of what you do for a living, which is a job that gives you income, a social identity, a certain professional status and, sometimes, public recognition. However rewarding, very often a job includes duties, tasks and requirements that we are obliged to perform, whether we like them or not. Our freedom to do only what we like in our job is almost always limited. This is a main reason why so many people suffer from job-related dissatisfaction and see their work as the necessary evil they must endure in exchange for a monthly paycheck.

Now, imagine someone asking you “How many hours a week do you spend creating something that gives you joy?” or “Do you have a creative habit that helps you handle stress?” Think of your answer: you may take a little longer to give a reply and, when you do, you may say something like: “Hmm, you know, I’d like to be creative but, truth is, I’m too tired”, or “Well, I’d love to have some time for creativity, but I’m too busy with other things,” or “It would be awesome to have a creative habit but that’s a luxury for the rich and I have bills to pay” or “Me, creative? But I’m not an artist, I am an office manager!”

If your answer to the question about creativity resembles any of the answers above, it is high time you changed your attitude toward your ability to be creative. In this chapter, you will be introduced to a number of mythic characters and real people who consider creativity not as a luxury, but their birthright. The truth is that we are all born with the ability to be creative, just as we are born with the ability to think, dream and imagine. But, while some of us continue to honor creativity throughout our lives and enjoy the benefits of a creative habit, many others betray our creativity as we seek joy in habits that are not only non-creative but, oftentimes, self-destructive.

The prices we pay when we stifle our right to be creative are as high as those we pay when we stifle our dreams. In my practice as a psychotherapist and coach, the majority of clients complaining about feelings of depression, insomnia, panic attacks, low self-esteem, or sense of meaninglessness are the ones who ignore their dreams and their own creative impulses. Over the years, I have helped a number of people reconnect with their natural ability to create, watching them enjoy the benefits of their creativity: a recovered self-confidence, an improved ability to handle life’s daily stress, freedom from depression, and a sense of fulfillment that no medical treatment alone can ever catalyze.
As you are working through the fourth phase of this method, it is essential that you experience the joy of developing and maintaining creative habits. Reconnecting with your creativity will allow you to be spontaneous and daring as you suspend judgment about the outcomes of your creative efforts. Your benefits from becoming creative will be a sense of sustained pleasure, inner freedom and independence from other people’s approval. The more you allow yourself to be creative, the more self-confident you will be and the better you will like yourself.

CREATIVITY 101

“To create” means “to cause to exist”; “to bring into being something that has never existed before”. Everything created is first imagined. Therefore, creativity is the human activity in which we use constructively our imagination by giving material form to our creative ideas. I In this context, a creative person is not only prolific in ideas but also active in materializing creative ideas in the real world. This creative input enriches not only the individual life of the creator, but also the world at large.

Creative people are not necessarily professional artists. They come from all walks of life and their creativity applies to all aspects of our civilization: they may be scientists discovering the hidden laws of the universe or new cures for terminal diseases; business people creating breakthrough opportunities in national economies; lawyers excelling in their field thanks to their creative problem-solving ideas; visionary politicians leading nations to freedom and prosperity; teachers creating innovative methods for the classroom; farmers creating breakthrough methods of farming or breeding; cooks creating culinary masterpieces or revolutionary cooking methods; administrators guiding organizations into success through creative leadership; police detectives solving mysteries and incarcerating criminals thanks to creative thinking. Age, level of education and socio-economic status do not matter: a creative person can be a child, an adolescent, an adult, or a senior. He or she can be single or married, divorced or widowed, childless or with children. Individual differences may be unlimited. But there are three characteristics, listed below, that all creative people share in common, which you must also develop as you work with this method:

a. Creative People Honor their Creative Impulses

Creative people know the relationship between creativity and productivity, and they are careful to keep them in balance. They nurture their creative needs by taking the necessary time and space to access imagination and stimulate creative thinking. And they bring their creative ideas into fruition by being productive. They also honor their creativity by protecting and nurturing their ideas and by following a discipline that involves hard work, concentration, isolation, unusual decisions, sacrifices, dedication to the creative purpose, and trust in their inner voice. Nevertheless, in spite of the demands of the creative process, staying loyal to their creative pursuit is never a burden for creative people. The joy from seeing their completed creation is so pure, that it redeems all the strenuous efforts exerted during the process.

Examples of movie characters portraying creative individuals abound. Some of them are introduced in this chapter. I encourage you to see the respective films and notice how different those characters are, yet how similar in the way they honor their creative impulses. These characters represent simple people yearning for the joy of creating, much as we all do. As you watch the films, let them inspire you to reconnect with your own creativity and feel the joy that you see them experience in the films.
Working Girl, is the story of a young woman’s determination to bring her creative ideas into fruition, having to protect them from being appropriated by her boss. Tess McGill, the main character, is a thirty-year old administrative assistant who lives in Staten Island and commutes every day to her work in the Manhattan financial district. On the ferry, she reads and, in the evenings, she takes classes. Tess wants to become something more than a secretary. She is bright, talented, informed, and, most importantly, she has creative ideas about mergers and acquisitions that she presents to her new boss, Katharine Parker, hoping to be appreciated and offered a better position in the company. But Katharine has different intentions: when Tess offers her a brilliant idea that will save a large company from a foreign takeover, Katharine steals it and presents it to her clients as her own, advising Tess to not mention it anywhere else.

It is not too long before Tess finds out that her creativity is being exploited. She vows to protect her idea and use all means available to make it happen, even if this means that she will pretend to be Katharine. While Katharine is away recovering from a skiing accident, Tess assumes Katharine’s identity and follows through with her plan, fighting to see her idea become reality until the very end, even after her true identity is discovered and she is exposed as an imposter. But, thanks to her persistence and willingness to take risks for her own creative idea, Tess does not give up. Exposing Katharine minutes before she signs the deal with the clients, she proves that the idea was originally hers, and wins. When Oven Trask, the client, asks Tess why she had to do this and risk her reputation, her answer is:

“You can bend the rules plenty once you get to the top, but not while you’re trying to get there. And if you’re someone like me, you can’t get there without bending the rules.”

Oven, admiring her courage to fight for her idea, responds:

“You’ve got a real fire in your belly, Ms. McGill.

Tess’s answer to this complement only means that fighting to protect one’s creativity is never easy:

” I’m not quite sure what you mean, sir. I’ve got something in my belly, but I think it’s nervous knots.”

Tess McGill is not an artist. Her creativity is not expressed through poetry, writing, or painting, but through brilliant ideas creating multi-million dollar breakthroughs in the financial world. But, just as an artist who fights to protect her work from being appropriated, she fights to have her idea recognized as being her own. She is diligent, thorough, brave, and she loves what she does. She does not rest until she sees it take form in reality. And, considering her limited means, she thinks and acts creatively throughout her ordeal against all odds, until the truth surfaces and she fulfills her dream.

Another tribute to creative people is the epic Titanic, which is filled with characters honoring their creativity till their last moments, even as they are drowning with the “unsinkable ship” into the abysmal depths of the North Atlantic. The story is told eighty four years later through flash backs by Rose de Witt, a survivor, as she is sitting in her pottery studio. Rose is a hundred and one years old and she is still creating pottery. Surrounded by her works, she recalls her fateful travel and introduces Jack Dawson, a young artist and the love of her life, who died during the tragic voyage. She spent only hours with him, but their love became immortal.

As she recalls their moments together, Rose brings us eighty-four years back to “the most erotic moment of her life”, that she lets us witness it: hours before his death, Jack is drawing a nude of her wearing only a necklace with a big, blue diamond. The beauty of a seventeen-year old Rose in love is immortalized in the drawing, seen through the eyes of the artist. “I couldn’t stop shaking” old Rose confesses, alluding to the erotic intensity of the experience that stayed with her forever. Jack’s art captured a lifetime of love that survived his death. For Rose, his art did not only create her drawing; it created Jack’s immortality.

As Rose remembers, we live with her the tragic scenes that unfold as the ship is about to sink. We are shown five musicians of the ship’s orchestra completing their last piece of music. We watch the unknown musicians bid their last farewell and walk away; except for the violinist, who stays in the same place and starts playing solo. As the other orchestra members hear him play, they stop, return and join him in the piece. Amidst a crowd of screaming passengers running in vain to save their lives, these musicians peacefully accept their imminent death and choose to celebrate life with their music, until the dark ocean swallows them playing their last note. Defying death by remaining creative till one’s last breath is one of the most powerful messages in this epic, which is also a tribute to inner freedom, immortal love, and the inexorable right to honor one’s truth.

b. Creative People Regard Creating as Healing

Creative people are healers. They create to bring wholeness to the inevitable wounds inflicted by life. Their creative output is their answer to aggression, deprivation, unfairness and injustice that, unfortunately, abound in reality. Through creating, they contribute toward increasing beauty, harmony and love, without which life cannot exist. Creativity is their only weapon against the afflictions of depression, boredom or loneliness and the source of strength, courage and hope. Creative people do not allow the burdens of life to discourage them. They create in spite of the daily pressures and dramas to conquer pain, fear, poverty, illness and, even death.

“When I dance, something happens and I sort of disappear” says Billy Elliot during his interview with the Committee of the Royal Ballet Academy. “It’s hard at the beginning, but then something happens and I start flying. I feel free. I disappear into the air like a bird, like electricity. Yeah, like electricity…”

Billy calls “electricity” the divine light that sparks in him when he is immersed in the creative process, enlightening his existence and the world around him. Through dancing, his essence becomes one with The Creator as he, little Billy, disappears. The joy of dancing heals his grief for his diseased mom, his worry for his ill Grandma, his sadness for being mistreated by his brother, and his sorrow for being rejected by his father. Billy’s wholeness is in his dance. That is when his daily life becomes secondary and he feels truly alive.

There is no process livelier than the creative process. Its essence is the very stuff of Life, which is Nature’s will to push beyond limitations in order to accomplish Creation. And, once the creation is accomplished, there is no joy deeper for the creator than the joy of sharing it with the world. A modern myth describing how the creative process brings wholeness not only the creative agent but also to those who commune with the creative outcome is Babette’s Feast.

Based on a short story by Isan Dinesen, Babette’s Feast is set in remote Frederikshavn, a small Lutheran community on the Jutland peninsula in Denmark, in the second half of the nineteenth century. The villagers are fundamentalists adhering to a rigid puritanical dogma. Their life is dedicated to religious observance, reciting of the scripture, material poverty, and avoidance of all temptations of spirit and body. Their Spartan homes and churches are devoid of embellishments or furniture that might provide the slightest comfort. Their manners are restrained; wordy interactions are restricted as silence is enforced to maintain the spiritual tone of relationships; indulging in simple pleasures such as food or other, more complex, physical desires is simply unfathomable. For this community, joy is a sin.

One day, a French woman arrives at the village, offering her services as a maid to Martina and Philippa, the two unmarried daughters of Pouel Kern, the diseased spiritual leader and founder of this community. During his life, father Kern managed to forbid his daughters to have any relationship with the outside world, forcing them to abandon all prospects of marriage or career. Due to his intervention, Martina’s ended her love for a young officer wanting to marry her, while Philippa ended on her own accord her friendship with a Parisian opera singer, afraid of the joy she experienced during their singing lessons. Years later, the same opera singer sends Babette to their home, who agrees to be their servant and work without wages. For fourteen years she does so, following diligently the community’s rules, cooking simple meals, observing the silence, and helping the two sisters with their community service.