+44 (0) 7983 590555 steven@stevenpaul.info

Stop for moment…Take a step back and think outside your normal parameters! In our fast-paced, mobile-first digital world today, leaders and people have to be innovative and creative in order to be competitive and be a leader in their industries.  Failure to be innovative and creative will lead to a company falling behind and, eventually, out of business.

I find that it is critical and imperative for emerging leaders of companies to be creative in order to ensure that their companies can be innovative and competitive in today’s fast-paced marketplace.  Improving one’s own creativity is key to the long-term success of a company in any industry. Here are my favorite 7 approaches to improving creativity and making time for it. Try it out in your professional and personal life…

  1. Be Open-Minded To New Ideas.

 Being open-minded to new ideas is the first step in improving your creativity.  If you close yourself off to new ideas, no matter how different they seem from the “normal” way of doing things, your creativity won’t improve, and your company will remain stagnant, a death knell in today’s dynamic environment.

 Therefore, be willing to accept the fact that the old, constant way of doing things will not help the company improve itself and remain competitive.  What worked in the past will not work as well or at all in the present and future, so be willing to accept new ideas and integrate them accordingly.

  1. Talk To Many Different People, Within and Outside of Your Industry.

 To improve your creativity, it’s important to look outside of yourself and look to many different sources.  This means you need to talk with many different people.  Begin in your own company and talk to all levels- not just executives and managers, but your employees.  This includes those that have been there for years and those that just arrived last week.  Listen to their viewpoints and insights to see how they view the industry they are a part of and the world we all live in to expand your own perspective.

It’s also important to talk to people outside of your own industry as well.  Different industries have different perspectives, and the world is becoming more interconnected than ever.  Look at how noted tech companies such as Google and Apple are entering the auto industry with artificial intelligence and mobile technology within cars like GM and Ford.  Look at how noted tech companies such as Facebook and Twitter are becoming content organizations rivaling noted media organizations like the New York Times and CNN.  Looking outside one’s own industry is key to becoming more creative.

  1. Take Time Away From the Daily Grind to Recharge and Look At Things With a New Perspective.

If you keep doing the “daily grind” things each day, you’ll fall into a creative rut where it will be difficult to be imaginative and creative.  Take time away- whether that’s meditation, a walk outside for some fresh air, joining a few friends and/or colleagues for a friendly pick-up game of basketball, etc.

It’s key to step away from the usual tasks because they can hamper and even kill creativity.  As is mentioned in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) article, “How To Kill Creativity,” creativity is unintentionally undermined in business environments that were made to maximize such important aspects as control, productivity, and coordination.  Thus, one needs to step away from that environment from time to time to recharge and look at things with a new perspective.

  1. Work With Various Members of Your Company, and Have Them Do the Same. Collaborate and leverage your network

 If you have the same members of your company working with each other constantly, production is bound to get stale and repetitive over time because they will be used to how each of them thinks and they will think along the same lines constantly.

 Certainly, having people become comfortable with each other and familiar with how they think has its benefits, especially when it comes to being productive and efficient.  But that can hamper creativity, especially when those same people work with each other constantly.  Mix it up and have people work with other members and other departments so that they can put their unique perspectives and talents together to open up new worlds of thought and possibility.  You, as the leader, should also do this so that your perspective and creativity is expanded as well.

  1. Doodling Regularly.

Doodling, or scribbling absentmindedly, has been shown to focus one’s mind and keep it engaged during an activity where one would otherwise tend to lose focus.  As Sunni Brown notes in her book, The Doodle Revolution, Henry Ford and Steve Jobs both used doodling to boost creativity.  Doodling has been shown to improve recall and “activate unique neurological pathways” that can help stimulate new ways of thinking, leading to imaginary solutions that may not have been developed otherwise.

  1. Having “Creative Toys” On Your and Employees’ Desks.

 This is an interesting one. As with doodling, having creative toys such as Legos, Play-Doh, and origami paper can help facilitate creativity.  It allows employees to have mental breaks away from the computer screen and the keyboard, which can help foster their creativity when they can’t get up and take a walk outside or go play a sport due to deadlines and time constraints. I have a small Tegu Asterisk Magnetic Wooden Block Set – sort of a puzzle…

  1. Using Flash Fiction.

 Flash fiction is a type of fiction writing that involves very short stories.  There are several variations of flash fiction: The Six-Word Story, the 140-character story, the 100-word story, etc.  People are provided with some topic of any type and then told to write whatever comes to mind within a short time frame (often 1-5 minutes). There is no right or wrong answer in doing this; it’s a way to get people to relax from the usual topics and tasks and to briefly focus on something else to see what ideas come to mind.  The mental break and writing exercise can often lead to people coming up with ideas for the current task at hand.

Go on then… get your creative minds a boost…