Last month on the blog we talked about breaking up with SALY – doing things the “same as last year.” SALY refers to this notion that we tend to do things the same way we did last year because, in some cases, it’s just the easiest. We get in a rut of doing what we think is easier, or don’t change because we somehow think we’re not supposed to.
As we start creeping up on busy season, it’s time to figure out what comes after deciding to dump SALY. If last year needed to improve, how is that going to happen? Getting better and improving doesn’t necessary mean you have to completely do away with what has been done, but it will require new ideas – which requires creativity – which requires everyone being confident in communicating those new ideas.
A Safe Place To Be Creative
David Kelley, CEO of legendary design firm, IDEO spoke about the importance of building creative confidence. He relayed the experience of a classmate of his early on in elementary school being ridiculed by a peer about the project he was trying to create. As a result, he immediately shut down and quit the project, feeling discouraged about his peer’s opinion. Kelley went on to talk about how we can often “opt out” of being creative due to this kind of experience – we tell ourselves that we’re not creative, so therefore it’s somehow true. He stressed how wrong this is, and how important it is for us to understand and realize that we are all naturally creative – we’re not divided up into “creatives” and “non-creatives.” That is the important thing for us all to realize – especially for those of us in technical professions, who otherwise considered “not creative.” We are in fact creative, and your involvement in the creative process is just as important as anyone else’s. I tend to think of creativity as the generation of ideas; so, the more, the better – especially if you’re going to get over SALY!
Getting Those Ideas Out
I often introduce a technique called mind mapping and clustering to help individuals share ideas. If you have an objective, think about things associated with that objective. Some will be attributes, and some will be details. From a creative perspective, once the mind is able to see the details and attributes, it often will connect the dots in new ways to produce novel associations and ideas.
For example, if your objective is to open a new restaurant, you start by considering some of the details and attributes of what you anticipate you will be doing. What type of food do you want to serve? Do you want to open it in the city or the countryside? Is there a particular theme you want to emphasize? What will be your reputation for service? As you imagine your restaurant, you will be able to list dozens of details, and they will readily cluster into attributes.
You just connect the dots. Whatever your dream, you can quickly create a specific picture from a general concept through this technique of mind mapping. It goes back to associations and the use of the improve principle, “yes, and…” In your brainstorming session, you take two things that may not seem to go together and put them together. That’s the essence of creativity – considering something that perhaps you haven’t considered before.
Implementing a Creative Workplace
In the end, the workplace needs leaders that inspire and encourage the expression of creativity. John Dragoon, CMO of Novell was quoted in Forbes speaking to this saying, “Truly creative leaders invite disruptive innovation, encourage others to drop outdated approaches and take balanced risks. They are open-minded and inventive in expanding their management and communication styles, particularly to engage with a new generation of employees, partners and customers.”
When it comes to creativity and generating ideas, all are needed and all are wanted. While what comes out might be a bit rough, with a little polishing and fine-tuning, the result can be quite extraordinary. Join my Yes, And Challenge to practice communication that fosters creativity and build new habits. Share your challenge insights on Twitter with #YesAndChallenge or The Accidental Accountant Facebook Page.