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From writing winning pitch decks to sparking interest around your brand, every business owner – no matter the industry you’re in or the product/service you’re selling – needs to be creative from time to time.
But what if you’re the type of boss who’s more methodical than creatively minded?
If you’ve ever said the words “I’m not a creative person” or “all the good ideas have already been taken”, this could be you. But the good news is that creativity can be taught.
Many people think that ideas hit you like a flash or fall out of the sky, but creativity is a process – one that can be learned, just like anything else.
This article will show you how to improve your creativity and get you thinking outside the box.
Learn some creativity techniques
There are loads of tools and games out there that will help you formulate some original ideas. Here are a few of our favourites:
Brainstorming can be done on your own, but if you’re struggling to get more creative, we’d recommend doing it in a group. It’s a great way to get the ball rolling in an informal setting.
It can be a little nerve wracking to share ideas, so instead of asking everyone to simply blurt them out, try and create some structure to your brainstorm. This could play out like this:
- Someone explains the objective of the brainstorm.
- Participants are asked to write down answers or solutions to a question or problem relating to the objective. For instance, the question could be “what problems do our customers face?” or something more specific.
- Everyone has 2 minutes to write down as many answers or solutions as they can think of.
- Everyone goes around the room and explains their notes, opening up the floor for discussion.
This simple exercise makes everyone feel more comfortable sharing ideas freely and gets the conversation flowing in a controlled way.
If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, think of the most obvious solution and then think of something so farfetched and wacky that it would be impossible. Now you have the two furthest ends of the spectrum, you can think about some ideas that fall in the middle.
Similar to brainstorming, mind mapping can help you break down the creative process into chunks.
Start with your objective in the middle of the paper and then break it down, drawing arms to each corner of your page. Then, expand on those components further.
You could write questions, themes or associations for each branch and you may well be surprised by what you come up with.
Start with your objective and begin to write down every word or phrase you can think of to do with the problem or action you need to be creative for. Once you’ve thought of them all, start thinking about word associations for the words you thought of and see how they connect to your objective.
You could use this technique as a daily creative training exercise, or sporadically when you need to loosen up your mind.
Practice creativity away from the office
If trying to be creative in your work setting feels pressured and stifling, take yourself away from your usual routine – this will help you get out of your comfort zone and lift your creative funk.
Some things you can do include:
- Going for a walk
- Speaking to a friend
- Putting on some music
- Reading a book
The latter two recommendations work particularly well if you read or listen to something you wouldn’t usually choose as it can challenge your brain to think about the works in a different way.
The same approach can be taken by trying something new that you’ve never done before. This could be things like salsa, rock climbing or learning a new language. Even if you don’t keep it up, the act of experiencing something new should unlock interesting emotions and thoughts.
Surround yourself with creative people
This might sound daunting, but being around free thinkers could eke out your creativity and encourage you to think how they think.
Get in touch with creative directors, marketers, designers – anyone in your industry who inspires you. Explain to them what it is you’re trying to achieve and ask how they’d go about coming up with ideas. The aim here isn’t to poach their ideas, but learn how to reach creative concepts using their methods.
LinkedIn, Behance, networking events, coworking spaces and Instagram are all great places to start.
How often do you get the chance to let your foolish side out (apart from playing charades at Christmas)? Unlocking your creativity should be a fun experience, not a chore.
One of the best ways to get your creative juices flowing is to gather some of your team and play a fun game. The aim here is to get you out of business mode. Not only will it help to unleash your playful side but should bring you closer to your team, too.
Remember, there’s no right or wrong answer
Something that holds a lot of people back from even trying to be creative is the expectation to do it right. But there really is no right or wrong answer when it comes to thinking up ideas.
Sure, when you’ve got them down on paper you can analyse them and decide if they work or not, but there should be no rules in between getting to that point. The best thing to do is throw the kitchen sink at it and you’ll no doubt find something that sticks.
This blog post has been written as part of our Business is Personal campaign, which explores what it's like to be your own boss at this moment in time.
If you’d like to find out what kind of boss you’d be, why not take our quiz and see what you get!
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