I've often observed that people have too small a definition of what constitutes creativity.
Often, people assume that they are "not creative" - so can simply define creativity as something "only others can do". That couldn't be further from the truth!
All of us have creative potential lying latent within us; the question is - "How do I actualise this potential?". To answer this question, I encourage you to consider the creativity that you are currently requiring - and the following labelling technique can help you do that.
From my studies of organisations and individuals, I have noticed that most creative acts can be classified into two simple categories, which I label Red and Blue Creativity.
Red Creativity is when you or your organisation is facing a problem that needs to be fixed. This type of creativity often actualises through excitement and pressure, tight deadlines, and short communications fired by email or text. Red Creativity is often about extending your product or service line and often will leave you feeling empty and tired, yet satisfied by your achievement.
Blue Creativity, on the other hand, is about the creation of a new product or service that will create an entire new market (or sub-market) for your product. This type of creativity often happens when you are not feeling under-pressure or swamped by work, but have the time available to day-dream, plan and imagine new possibilities. Blue Creativity will leave you feeling inspired and excited to begin engaging in this possibility.
I was recently having dinner with a leader of an organisation in the Waikato, who continually surprises his followers with the ideas that he comes up with. I asked him - "How do you come up with such great and novel ideas?". His answer - "I go on holiday."
This leader has discovered that if he wants his organisation to grow and develop, he cannot constantly engage in Red Creativity. He deliberately blocks time out where he is free from the pressure of work to dream and plan about the future, and has created an environment where this perpetual striving is the new norm.
On the other hand, Red Creativity is essential for any organisation to adapt to the day-to-day challenges that constantly rear their head. A leader cannot just engage in Blue Creativity, but must also be adept at working under pressure and seeking new solutions to new problems.
Most of the organisations I have studied are excellent at Red Creativity, but treat Blue Creativity like it is a helpful possibility - if they get time, they might day-dream about their organisation. Unfortunately, they rarely get this time.
If you are needing some Red Creativity for your organisation - here are a few quick tips:
- Define the Problem Clearly - what is the problem? (Also, asking "What is not the problem?" can help this process.
- Define the Solution - what would a win look like? When will you know that you have achieved this?
- Create a Small Team - preferably face-to-face, but if not - engage in virtual teamwork. Maintain a sense of pressure (Red Creativity thrives under healthy pressure).
- Constantly Review - continue to ask your team, "How are we doing?", "Are we closer?", "Is this solving the problem?". These questions will help create a sense of journey to your team, and will encourage constant movement forward.
If you are needing some Blue Creativity - here is how you can make it happen:
- Remove Deadlines - create space where you have no work pressures. Remember, this is essential for Blue Creativity - which may be essential for your organisation.
- Go Solo - the best Blue Creativity happens alone, with no fear of critique.
- Ask - What could the world look like in five years time? How could our organisation better serve this future world, now? How can we pre-empt change?
- Day-Dream - allow your mind to wander into new areas and constantly jot down images, words or phrases that come to mind.