For most people, the term creativity is more easily applicable to art and music than to business. We expect the Picassos and the Mozarts of the world to experience creative breakthroughs; but we are less convinced that business people have anything to be creative about. Yet art and music can be characterized as the production of order out of chaos, and isn’t chaos the natural state of business?
Upon careful inspection, we find that creativity seems to thrive at all levels and phases of business. Beginning clerks to corporate heads, and everyone in between, can be creative. This includes data analysts as well as “the idea man” from marketing.
Creativity is more individual than organizational. Some people are highly creative in traditional manufacturing environments. Others stagnate in the most dynamic advertising firms. It is definitely easier to be creative in a company whose policies encourage it of course, but corporate policy is not a requirement for creative expression.
So what do we mean by creativity? One definition of creativity suggests that your idea is creative if it is novel and appropriate, useful, correct or a valuable response to the task at hand. Furthermore, your idea is creative if it is heuristic rather than algorithmic. An algorithmic idea imposes it’s own tried and true solution. A heuristic idea stems from no such clear path — rather you have to create one.
Creativity is more than the successful mastery of problem solving techniques. It is far more personal, and yet universal. We look within to find our natural creative source. At the source of your personal creativity is your natural intuition: your direct knowing without reasoning, your gut feel.
Intuition has always been a mainstay of business ideas, but until fairly recently it has been denied as a legitimate business tool in the era of over dependence on analysis. This is no longer true. Now business people speak of intuition with pride. And everyone can develop their personal creative source and natural intuition.
So if everyone has the same access to the universal personal creative source, why haven’t more of us been naturally and consistently creative? Our natural creative drive may just be suppressed by our internal voice of judgement. Our internal scripting has been heavily influenced by society — which says our ideas are not useful, and we will look stupid if we try. However, if you suppress your internal voice of judgement and practice creative thinking strategies, you will be amazed at the quantity and quality of your ideas.
Creative thinking strategy starts with a core problem or need and moves in various ways through a series of stages, or generally accepted parts of the creative process. These consist of preparation and information gathering, cerebration or digestion of the gathered material, incubation or forgetting the problem, realization or sudden inspiration, and finally, implementation, where you work out the idea and turn it into something worthwhile.
When successful workers discuss how they use their creativity to handle business problems, their approach does seem similar to that of an artist: they become totally immersed in expressing their inner vision, knowing that their chief challenge is to organize familiar materials in a fresh way. They are curious, adventurous, experimental, willing to take risks, and absorbed in meeting the challenges of their working day.
Once you begin to develop and use your intuition as part of your creative thinking strategy, you will find that you become more aware and more effective in business as well as in your personal life.