"Whether it is considered from the viewpoint of its effect on society, or as one of the expressions of the human spirit, creativity stands out as an activity to be studied, cherished, and cultivated." -Silvano Arieti
Creativity never quite gets the recognition it deserves. In the hustle and bustle of producing products and deliverables it can often feel like creativity is the icing on the cake, an accessory to add if there's time. Things can become too product-oriented, too focused on innovation over creativity, to the point where we begin to see creativity as the icing instead of the cake. What we fail to realize in those moments, however, is that the two are not mutually exclusive; instead, innovation depends greatly on creativity.
The Innovation Cupcake is Made of Creativity...
Think of innovation as a cupcake. There's cake and frosting and little pearl sprinkles and it's just about the cutest thing you've ever seen. Now take away the cake...there's just a glob of frosting and some sprinkles left behind and it looks a little weird...a little deconstructed. Not only that, but it isn't technically a cupcake anymore because, well, there isn't any cake.
That's why creativity is the cake - that's how important it is to innovation.
A Problem-Solving Problem.
Let's talk about problem solving. We each have strategies we employ to solve problems, methods that have worked for us in the past and will, most likely, continue to do so in the future. These might be algorithms or good, old fashioned trial-and-error. The honest truth about problem-solving, though, is that not every problem can be solved with a standard solution strategy. Instead, there may come a day when you need to get a little creative to figure it out...or a lot creative, depending on the problem.
This Cake Solves Problems...Creatively!
Now, before you all start telling me that you're NOT creative, let me hit you with a knowledge bomb: every human being on this planet is creative. Seriously. Creativity is a characteristic of human behavior, which means we're all capable of it (unless you're not a human being and you're a space alien...and even then, you're probably creative). So don't tell me you're not creative because I happen to know that's inaccurate.
If you're facing a difficult problem that requires creative thinking, then you should consider starting with these activities to get your brain working on ALL its cylinders:
- Use what you've got access to. The answer may be sitting right there in front of you as the spare parts you originally dismissed...but may actually be useful.
- Turn the problem around on itself. If you're trying to figure out how best to win a sword fight...maybe you should use the other guy's sword against him.
- Change your perspective. In order to find a novel solution to a difficult problem, you may need to take a different point of view...and see with a new set of eyes.
No matter what steps you take from this point forward, just remember to keep creativity with you as your greatest tool. Never dismiss it as a flight of fancy or as a magical, mystical attribute. Instead, embrace it as the foundation for your innovation and invention.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm in need of a cupcake...or two.