The Creative Brain

Can You Become More Creative?

So much is written about Creative People and even more about the Creative Process.  Obviously in design engineering, Innovative Thinking (Creativity) is absolutely essential.  So how do you become creative?

Some people say creativity a gift, others say it's the stroke of genius in a moment.  Still others say you can learn to be creative if you follow certain steps.  And, of course, there's the "Buy my book and you'll instantly create" sales pitch too.  (Don't worry, we're not selling anything here.)  All these perspectives have a foundation in observation and experimentation.  Yet, this is such an interesting topic --  so please chime in.

Innovation starts with Creativity, and from a business standpoint, it becomes really important.  For a company growing, innovation is a best business strategy.

Creative Environments

There are many things that spark creativity -- and whether you believe the "Nature" or the "Nurture" philosophies, there are some specific things that almost always crush it.  Avoid these things in your environment, for a more conducive atmosphere:

  1. Commotion - loud, busy, demanding, captivating situations.  (Whether it is hustle and bustle, tight deadlines, Video Games or even Movies.)
  2. Contention - anger and frustration directed at people are not usually the stimulants for creativity.
  3. Worry - when your mind is preoccupied by demands or worry or stressful situations.

Find environments that spark the creative in you . . . and it's different for different people, but here are some common threads.

  1. Times and places when you are well rested, calm, and thinking clearly.
  2. Quiet time, without distraction, and with fewer pressures.
  3. Activities and events or competitions that stimulate creativity ... like GoCode, or this Science Class.

Some people have their special places or moods for creating.  But, most often, the stroke of genius just comes.  It doesn't often happen well when we force it, so take the time to let your mind wander.  Don't worry, it won't get lost.

Let Your Mind Wander

Is Creativity only Left Brain?The easiest stimulation for creativity is problem solving.  Let your mind wander to all sorts of crazy places thinking about things that you don't prefer, or things that need improvement, or things that make you frustrated.  (Note, Use "things", not the frustrating "people" for stimulation.)   Just like talents with music or art or mathematics, creativity may well be a bias in our DNA, but also just like music or art or mathematics, even those that don't have a natural talent can learn it.

No, they usually don't teach it in school like music or mathematics, but there are lots of opportunities all around to learn and practice.  I personally think this is one area where the economics of plenty are truly manifest -- there are always more good ideas.

Let your mind wander, and keep it wandering.  When you come up with one solution, keep on thinking of more.  The first ideas may be the best, but they may not.  Keep wandering to other ideas, or mutations of the things you are already thinking about.

Another proven technique for creativity is a focused group -- especially when focused on a goal.  Whether that be in a Sprint environment or further along the process in a design review process.  Don't let opportunities for asking key questions escape.

What Do You Think About Creativity?

Please use the comments section below this article (or the Contact Page if you'd prefer) to give your opinion about "Creativity".  Do you think it's a natural talent that some people are just born with?  Or do you think it's a process we can learn?  Maybe you think it's a combination of some things?  Or is it all just "Left Brain" / "Right Brain" bias?

Obviously we don't really know that much about how the brain works.  But, please take a minute to share your experience and opinions.  Becoming more creative is a fascinating topic worth more thought and discussion.  Thank You.

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