Creativity and innovation have become key determinations of success for entrepreneurs and businesses. Honing these skills are just as important, or even more so, as project management, customer relations, operations, budgeting, etc. Beyond businesses, the global economy is dependent on innovation.
How can you do your part to spark more creativity and innovation? We all have ideas inside of us waiting to be hatched. Here are some ways to tap into your innovative genius:
1. Upend Your Daily Habits
Our minds like habits and many of us prefer routines. This helps our lives run smoothly and predictably, which is usually a good thing. It can also get us stuck in a rut. Forbes shares research from the book How We Learn that routine can limit creativity and changing daily habits can actually rewire your brain! Consider doing a few of the following to shake up your brain waves a bit:
- Drive to work a different way, or better yet bike
- Take a new walking route
- Eat lunch at a different time or in a different place (outside is even better)
- Make a different coffee or morning snack
- Read a new genre of book or type of TV show
- Change up your daily play list
- Rearrange your desk area or add new picture
- Add a bold color to your wardrobe
2. Develop a growth mindset.
A key to increasing innovation is to develop a growth mindset. Per Harvard Business Review, a growth mindset means you believe you can learn, bounce back from setbacks, improve your abilities, and develop existing and new talents. Here are a few things you can do to shift your mindset towards a growth orientation.
- Listen to music that makes you feel positive – it actually rewires your brain
- Journal about your successes, challenges, and what you are grateful for daily
- Try creative writing – just write without judgement
- Create art – just create without judgement
- Meditate regularly
- Try something new and scary
3. Find new ways to brainstorm.
Brainstorming different ideas with others is a great way to come up with creative solutions. However, in reality, brainstorming can easily go sideways with some people’s ideas being shut down, people being afraid of sharing, or people sticking with what they already know. The solution is to use better brainstorming tools. Here are a few to try:
- 6 Thinking Hats: In this method a team approaches a problem using a different ‘hat’ then they normally would. For example, if you are someone who wants all the facts before making a decision, you might be assigned the hat that approaches issues with feelings and instinct instead. This stretches people out of their comfort zone and encourages unusual approaches.
- Osborne’s Checklist: This method is geared towards products and has an individual or team look at the product in 6 different ways. This includes asking what could be substituted, magnified, minimized, rearranged, modified, and combined.
- Evaluate your day: Write down what you do during the day and select a few things you can change for the better and how. Keep your notepad (or phone if you want to use that) handy and jot down every idea that occurs. Then review your list of ideas and select a few to implement throughout the next month. Keep a journal on what worked well, what didn’t, and what you learned. Finally decide what you will keep out of the ideas you implemented and what you won’t. You can then repeat the process with other areas of your day-to-day life.
4. Return to your inner child.
Inc.reports on a shocking study that found that 98 percent of 5-year-olds scored at a creative genius level and only 2% of adults did on the same test! What we are taught as the ‘right’ ways of thinking as we grow up discourages creative thinking patterns. You can reignite those creative thinking patterns, by engaging in childhood behaviors. Doodle, color, splash in a mud puddle, play games, climb a tree, dance to silly songs, etc. Be a kid again at least a few times a week.
5. Expand your circle of influence.
Most of us have similarity bias; meaning we stick to people with whom we have things in common, which keeps us in our comfort zone. It can also limit the ideas and experiences we are exposed to. This happens at work to when we tend to bounce ideas off of the same small group of peers. There are several ways to expand beyond your usual group though:
- Volunteer in the community and at work for different types of projects
- Join a club with interests different than yours
- Form am eclectic mastermind group around an issue at work or in your career
- Try activities or events that you haven’t before
- Ask different people on and outside of your team at work for their ideas
- When searching for ideas ask yourself – is there someone’s voice that I have not heard that can give me fresh ideas?
- Listen to some new podcasts or TED talks