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Jim's Gems: Creativity Leads to Innovation

July 7, 2014
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In my previous blog about creativity, I promised a follow up to discuss how to make creativity bloom. Business leaders have long realized that creativity leads to innovation, which is a key ingredient to achieving success. They recognize that innovation is the most important single skill that an organization can possess if it is to remain competitive. There is an adage that says businesses need to innovate or they will evaporate.

However, it is essentially the same for the individual. As mentioned previously, creativity can be developed or enhanced individually. Since creativity leads to innovation, individuals can become stagnate if not generating ideas and new thoughts, just as an organization can do the same. The first step for the individual is to acquire, develop or enhance their creativity skills.

There have been numerous articles and books written on this topic. Two books pushing ‘out of box thinking’ that I would recommend were written by James M. Higgins. 101 Creative Problem Solving Techniques focuses on new ideas for businesses and Escape from the Maze documents Mr. Higgins' nine steps to personal creativity. Together they contain powerful insight for organizations and individuals who want to be more creative.

The quality of creativity is as valuable as any I can think of. Creativity must be encouraged and nutured if one wants to grow as a person or be more successful in the workplace, because the rewards are greater.

You must be willing to seek out and develop that which is new in yourself. At the same time, you are letting go of old habits, belief, and expectations that are no longer useful, and could easily be holding you back from true success.

Certainly there are tools and techniques like TRIZ which can help simulate creativity. The following are six conditions which allow creativity — and ultimately, innovation — to flourish.

Solitude. Not withdrawal or being totally alone, but in the sense of spending time apart from the clichés and conventions of society to focus on one's own thoughts and ideas.

Inactivity. Not loafing or goofing off, but planned inactivity as a break in one's busy routine. I’ve known people to regularly set aside part of their daily schedule so as not to be interrupted in their thoughts.

Daydreaming. Daydreaming can be focused on out of box thinking and is often connected to inactivity. In daydreams, we make mental excursions into fantasy that breed creative activity. Several organizations have quiet rooms set aside for the purpose of stimulating out of box thinking.

Gullibility. That's right, gullibility. This is the willingness to suspend one's personal beliefs and accept what comes from inside without insisting on rationality or logic.

Alertness and discipline. Although these qualities are necessary for productivity in any endeavor, they also have a special meaning in creativity.

Mental replay. Allowing oneself to revisit past creative efforts and resolution of past traumatic conflicts leads to analogies, which is one of the principles of TRIZ.

A twist to the Thomas Edison success quote is that “Creativity is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration”. This means that creativity, much like success, must be accomplished through perseverance and hard work. So, while most of our conditions require loosening of control and openness to the inner self, the last and most important quality is the willingness to put whatever you discover into action. Without this commitment to action, your creativity may never emerge.
 

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