Creativity can’t be reduced to a formula .... or can it?
At its core, the creative process requires a new way of thinking. It also requires a combination of situations and elements in order to take an established concept or product and give it a totally new spin.
It's tricky. Ideas don't just happen in advance. They have to be captured as they unfold.
Here's something we all know on a visceral level: Something organic has to happen in the creative process. When you start out, the result you're looking for may not have a specific shape or form, or even a name.
However, research on creativity has shown that we can set the conditions -- provide the spark and gasoline of creativity -- for the creative process to occur. And we can break that process down even as it's unfolding.
In essence, we can employ a method to help something new come into being, even when we don't know what the exact result will be. As they say in physics: "The cat that jumps is not the same cat that lands."
Here's how to set the scene for innovation:
ELEMENT 1: DIVERSITY
We need diversity. This Forbes article by Tendayi Viki describes how innovators from Hemingway to Handel were at their most creative while working and living away from their birthplaces.
We need perspectives from others to provide disturbances that disrupt the way we would typically carry out a project. We need creative thinkers from diverse backgrounds that draw on their own experiences to shake things up.
As Steve Jobs said, the best innovators are those “who have thought more about their experiences than other people.”
ELEMENT 2: NOVEL COMBINATIONS
In recent years, we've seen the words "novel combinations" to describe innovative development in all areas of human knowledge. You take concepts that are already out there, and transpose one upon another so that the final synthesis produces something absolutely unique.
Sir Issac Newton captured this idea with his statement from 1676: "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."
Nine times out of ten, your coolest innovations are based on products that presently have a foothold in the market. They're actually “novel combinations” of concepts already in existence.
Take our product, the Wipebook. It gets this reaction: "Cool product. Neat idea." We've taken writing tools that have evolved over time (slates, blackboards, whiteboards, notebooks), and we've added a special twist.
ELEMENT 3: DON'T PANIC
Remember not to get stressed as you embark on the creative endeavour. When you apply innovative combinations to existing concepts, there's no such thing as keeping it simple. Your projects will be more expensive, more elaborate, and more time-consuming.
Will you miss the deadline? Absolutely. And your budget? You'll exceed it. Plus, you'll have quality issues.
But remember this: The way out of the turmoil is to revisit what you know. Reinsert conventions and patterns you've seen work in the past and apply them to fresh problems.
So when you're on the path to innovation, don't be afraid to make a mistake. Work in a world where everything's erasable and anything's fixable.
Grab your Wipebook whiteboard notebooks and get dirty.
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