Watch the short video summary and then read on…
Creativity is kind of a loaded word. Everyone wants to be creative, but many people are hesitant to test their creativity. A lot of people conflate creativity with artistry. Yet, we need creativity to design and develop new products.
Innovation and creativity go hand-in-hand. Product solutions must be creative enough to offer alternatives to customers. Product innovation is not only a disciplined process but is also a creative one. Both innovation and creativity thrive within boundaries and constraints yet also need us to consider opportunities from new perspectives.
How can you improve innovation success at your firm? Consider the following three ways to supercharge your creativity.
Creative ideas often come to us when our minds have noodled on a problem for a while. We also design better solutions when we are in a positive frame of mind. Being grateful for what we have can increase our creativity.
A lot of executive coaches and time management experts advise making a list of three things for which we are grateful for at the end of each day. Gratitude reminds us of our blessings and that we are not alone. Often, these gratitude lists describe people and relationships instead of “stuff” and money.
So, instead of approaching your next product innovation project from a position of “what needs fixing,” I suggest you try figuring out what is already working. Be grateful for customer feedback that illuminates quality issues and show generosity to customers who highlight improvement opportunities. Ask your customers what they like about a product.
Practice gratitude to increase your creativity. Before you go to bed tonight, jot down three things for which you are grateful. Then, consider how you can enlarge and enhance opportunities tomorrow. Be creative!
Because our subconscious mind does much of our “creative” work, we need to give our brains a rest. A lot of people say they get their best ideas in the shower. Why? In the shower, there is no television news, there are no housekeeping chores, and there are no looming work deadlines. Our brains are resting – and roaming.
I recently took a two-week vacation to go hiking in the desert southwest. We only turned on the television twice during that time, I rarely checked the “news” (or national debt) on my phone, and checked email only for urgent issues on weekdays. I totally unplugged (except for my presentation to a developer’s conference on the topic of … creativity).
Unplugging allows us to recharge. When you unplug, you can suddenly hear the birds and the wind. You see the world through fresh eyes. Colors are more vibrant, and your dreams are clearer. These are the elements of creativity. You must find the time to unplug and recharge to build your creative muscles.
Of course, being on vacation means waking up without an alarm clock. Most adults need about eight hours of sleep, but we get only five or six due to work, family, and other commitments. My vacation allowed me to recharge by getting enough sleep. A long day of hiking with sun and fresh air (and sometimes rain and wind) made sleep a glorious respite. And on vacation (without an alarm clock), I woke up – fully rested – when the sun gently peeked through the window.
Everyone knows that getting enough sleep is important for health and well-being, but if you work in innovation, you also need enough sleep to be creative. The gray matter recharges with sleep and neuroscientists tell us that sleep allows new pathways to form between our brain cells. Again, our subconscious is at work while we sleep, generating new ideas to serve our customers.
One trick I use is to consider a big, hairy problem before I go to sleep. I have already put myself into a positive state of mind by considering different gratitudes for the day. Then, as I think about a problem and doze off, I can dream about solutions. More often than not, I wake up with a new idea, a new solution, or a better way to do things.
Supercharge Your Creativity
Creativity is a mental muscle that needs attention – just like our physical body needs good nutrition and exercise. Product innovation professionals must improve creativity to continue designing and developing interesting and valuable products and services. Three ways to supercharge your creativity are:
- Practice daily gratitude,
- Routinely unplug and recharge, and
- Get enough quality sleep.
You can learn more about improving your skills for innovation and creativity at my presentation “Innovation Magic: Creativity in a Hybrid World” at the upcoming ACMP Texas conference on 17 September. Learn more about the conference and other great speakers that are Imagining the Future here. You might also be interested in a special two-hour creativity workshop I’m offering on 1 October. Learn more and register here.