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Creativity Reclaimed

No one will argue the fact that creativity is crucial to business success. Creative-thinking processes are at the root of every successful company, from high to low tech. However, creativity does not come easily. Organizations today are investing a lot of resources in creating leadership and creativity-supporting programs in an attempt to find and retain employees with a creative track record.

One of the most interesting things about creative thinking among adults is the fact that it is so elusive. For children, creativity is a big part of their day-to-day life; it’s incorporated in almost everything they do. However, as we grow older, it seems that the creative muscle is weakened by social norms and the fear of criticism.

Tom Kelley and David Kelley, scholars and founders of IDEO consulting firm, address this issue in an article for Harvard Business Review. They argue that the common belief that people can be either “creative” or “noncreative” should be replaced with the understanding that anyone can be a creative person, and it’s all about reclaiming the confidence to be one.

They also offer a piece of advice on how to do just that:

They first suggest that you need to leave your comfortable office and step out of your comfort zone, raising the obvious point that doing the same things over and over again, being exposed to the same information and people, is not going to lead to new results or ideas. You must step out into the world, explore new horizons, meet new people, and embrace uncertainty; this way, you can really find insights and come up with innovative ideas.

The second piece of advice they offer, which is also probably the hardest to achieve, is trying to overcome the fear of judgment. The first step to achieving this goal is not to judge yourself. Dedicate some time in your day to just thinking, and try to come up with one hundred new ideas. Use a white board or this app, and analyze the ideas you come up with to see where they are going. Also, to support that nonjudgmental notion and spread it in your business, use less judgmental language that offers advice rather then cutthroat criticism.

Then you need to take the first step in the execution process; instead of planning, start doing. Divide the big projects into small tasks and start executing them one by one. Last but not least, creative thinking and execution cannot exist without collaboration, which means losing some control over your company. With that said, you must remember there is a silver lining; good ideas develop into good products, which in turn means greater success and profits.

People who declare that they are “noncreative” must remember that creativity is a skill. In order for it to develop rather than atrophy, you must overcome your fears and reclaim the confidence to be creative.

Based on: Kelley, Tom, and David Kelley. “Reclaim Your Creative Confidence.” Harvard Business Review. Dec 2012: n. page. Web. 16 May. 2013.

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