Creativity is problem-solving with relevance and novelty(or new ways or methods). It is about finding a way to solve a problem that is relevant and innovative. Creativity is a skill that can be learned. It does come with a lot of practice if you want to be very good at it. You probably never thought of creativity as being something that we can get better at. But you can.

If you want to “future-proof” your career, there’s no better approach than focusing on thinking more creatively. Stop settling for solutions that worked previously and push yourself to think of newer, better ideas.

Let’s break that definition down into its two parts:

  • Relevancy: Relevancy means actually solving the problem. As in, it was relevant to the problem at hand and provided an actual solution to it. A solution without relevancy is no solution at all.
  • Novelty: Novelty is harder to judge, but it’s when you are able to solve a problem in an original way. A way that is unexpected and that no one has used it before.

Educating yourself is one way that can help you become more creative. The more you know about a specific problem or domain the more you will be able to be creative about how to handle it. If you know less you will have a hard time trying to solve the problem let alone solve the problem in a creative way. The more ways of creativity you explore, the easier it is to find different ways to approach the same problem.

What are some creative thinking techniques?

Brainstorming: We all know about this one. It’s when a group of people tosses out ideas on a topic without regard to how practical they may be. The goal is to come up with an innovative solution. While many of the ideas generated may not be feasible, just by allowing people to speak freely, the end result is often an idea that can be made into a workable solution.

“What if” questions: For example, if you ask “What if we do XYZ instead of doing ABC?”, or “What if we eliminate step 5?”, it might lead to an improvement in productivity or growth. “What if” questions can be the source of big ideas.

Role-playing: Role-playing can give you a different perspective which can lead to new ideas. Here’s a simple example if you’re in software development: a role-playing session where you pretend to be the client or customer can give you a much better understanding of what your customers are thinking when they are using your application. This can help you anticipate issues your customers may have with your application and develop a plan to overcome them.

Provocation: This is a process where you intentionally reject a feature or a capability of your application to help stimulate creative thought. For instance, you might take out one of you microservices to see how the rest will behave. While you have no intention of shutting down that microservice, the concept can stimulate creative thinking so that you and your team come up with ideas that really do improve productivity and processes.

How can creativity be enhanced?

Be observant. People who think creatively notice details by using all of their senses. What others might see as circumstances beyond their control, they see as possibilities. Whenever you can, watch those around you and be curious about their lives. You’ll come up with some of your most creative ideas by observing others.

Keep an open mind. Don’t be quick to judge. When you encounter new ideas, listen to them and think through them. Even if you’re not sold on a given idea, put it aside for a while and circle back later. When you think about it again, it’ll feel more familiar or not as scary. That familiarity will begin opening your mind.

Daydream. Take time every day to let your mind wander. Research shows that, what daydreaming stimulates, can bring connections and new thoughts into your brain and provide insights that you may not have considered.

Take risks. Your ideas might fail. But the idea of failure isn’t negative because with every failure comes a new insight. Set your imagination free to come up with a new idea and then put it out there for everyone to see. The worst thing that can happen is your idea gets shot down. The best thing that can happen is that you’ll find a great new solution no one else has ever thought of.



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