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Every professional has this question once in a while. How to increase creativity? But you don’t have to be Picasso or Dali to be consistently creative. There are practical ways to boost your creativity and stay on top of your innovation game. This article is about that. We’ve gathered some of the best tips and tricks on how to improve creativity, and we would like to share it with you.
What is creativity?
Here’s how the Cambridge Dictionary defines it:
Let’s dig a bit deeper, shall we?
Dr. Robert E. Franken from the University of Calgary has extensively written about the nature of human creativity in his book “Human Motivation”.
The writer states that creativity is “defined as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others. ”
He also outlined three reasons why people are motivated to be creative:
- need for novel, varied, and complex stimulation
- need to communicate ideas and values
- need to solve problems
But what about the creativity for business?
But if the ordinary life’s use of creativity is one thing, applying it within the business framework is a bit different. Also, it exists on different levels from the individual creativity of a particular employee to the overall creative stance of a company within its industry.
Michael Boyles from Harvard Business Review has come up with a very clear and informative list of the reasons why creativity is beneficial for any business. Here it is:
Without creativity, there’s no innovation, productivity, adaptability, and growth. Doesn’t it sound like an absolutely crucial thing to have within your business? It does.
But what to do when you simply can’t achieve a good level of creative ideas? That’s when the best practices on how to increase creativity come into play.
1. A growth mindset is key
Are you afraid that your skills are not good enough to achieve more? Then you may be stuck in a fixed mindset. The term along with its antipode, growth mindset, where introduced by Carol Dweck in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
Someone with a fixed mindset doesn’t look outside of the box. Not because he doesn’t have the abilities. However, he believes that his abilities are fixed and can’t be adjusted to meet the goal he intends to reach.
On the other hand, the growth mindset “views intelligence, abilities, and talents as learnable and capable of improvement through effort” per Harvard Business School. In other words, there’s no mountain too high for you to climb. The only thing is about the preparation and effort.
What does it mean within our question on how to increase creativity and innovation? Developing a growth mindset will help you think originally, create better, and strive for greatness.
2. Diversifying experiences for nurturing new ideas
Science never tires of finding new ways to boost creativity and the concept of diversifying experiences is one of the know-how you should be aware of.
While it has a complex experimental social psychology background, what’s important for our article is the outcome. Basically, the research says that exposure to “unusual and unexpected events” can “violate normality, break cognitive schemas, and promote a thinking style characterized by cognitive flexibility”.
What it means in simple terms is a concept usually known as “getting out of a comfort zone”. But if the latter is a vague term that can be applied to anything anywhere, diversifying experiences within a business can take very particular and practical forms.
It can be a field trip, a football match, a team-building event in the desert, or a kung fu class. The list is endless, the key to achieving cognitive flexibility that is crucial for generating new fresh ideas is having new experiences to break the status quo.
3. Apply the creativity switch
Feeling stuck is what many creators experience once in a while. You are staring at a blank page and nothing works. You simply can’t make yourself write, you can’t create.
While writer’s block is usually used, well, in writing, it can be equally used to describe the overall sensation of being unable to create within the business as a whole.
That’s when the concept of “creativity switch” comes into play. It has been a hot topic among psychologists, marketing specialists, behavioral scientists, and specialized podcasters for some time now and there’s no one definition of the term. And there shouldn’t be really, the more ways of resolving the writer’s block there are the better for everyone.
Generally, a creativity switch is some activity, a tool, an action, or a pattern that allows you to “switch” your ability to create.
Here are some of the examples of creativity switches from various minds.
For example, Dr. Ken Hudson sees creative switching in going from one thinking pattern to another. Here’s his recipe on what to do when you feel stuck:
For Ralf Hammer, the recipe for having good ideas lies in “creating a lot of options and then picking the best one.” However, the switch really occurs between the moods. The author distinguishes the so-called “normal” and “crazy” moods.
During the “crazy” mood phase the majority of ideas are generated. You have a whole pile of new ideas. However, it’s in the “normal” mood that you have to dissect the best ones from this pile. Switching between the two is what makes the whole process organized and straightforward.
4. Meditation, but focused
Meditation can do magic when it comes to the question of how to increase creativity. But it’s not every type of meditation. We’re talking about mindfulness meditation.
But what it is exactly?
The Verywell Mind gave a great definition:
Also, the website has provided amazing examples of this kind of activity in our routine lives:
Okay, you may think, washing dishes is great, but how can it help our business increase creativity?
There’s a scientific answer to that. Erasmus University in Rotterdam, Netherlands conducted an experiment to see the relationship between mindfulness meditation and creativity.
The results showed that spending just 10 to 12 minutes meditating enhances your creativity and cognitive thinking. That in turn, brings more ideas, decreases pressure and anxiety, and makes for a healthier creative process.
Also, it’s a widely practiced tactic to boost innovation among the top companies in the world. According to Harvard Business Review, such heavyweights as Google, Goldman Sachs, and Medtronic have introduced meditation practices into their workflow.
You can use apps like Headspace, Calm, or buddhify that help organize the process and provide the necessary framework.