Creative thinking can be stimulated by two things – intensely desired goals or persistent, pressing problems. The pain that pushes, to the vision that pulls. Your creative capacities need something to hone in on, a problem to solve, a target to hit and your job is to provide it.
Intensely desired goals, clearly defined with detailed plans for their accomplishment, act as a continual stimulus for ideas on how to achieve those goals. That’s the first stimulant to creativity.
To trigger your imagination, write out a clear description of your ideal end result, your vision of victory, your goal. Be clear about the goal, be flexible about the process. Think about it; visualize it as realized over and over again. Project your mind forward to the picture of the realized goal and then look back to the present. Tool #5 in my book Making Moments Matter, page 41.
Think on paper. Make a plan and then work on the plan, updating it, changing it, adding to it as you think of new ways to work toward the goal. The more clearly defined and keenly desired your goals, the more of your natural creativity will be released for goal attainment. Tool #4 in Making Moments Matter, page 40.
The Proper Approach to Problems
The second stimulant to creativity is persistent, pressing problems. The key to idea generation when you face a problem is to approach the problem confidently, expectantly, with the attitude that there exists a logical, practical solution just waiting to be found. Restate your problem as a “can”, instead of as a “can’t.” Put in the “can” and ask the question (as an example): In what ways can we beat the bid? In what ways can we cut our costs? In what ways can we increase our sales? In what way can we attract the best talent?
The most creative people have a relaxed attitude of confident expectancy that causes their minds to function in original and imaginative ways.
Diagnose Your Problems Accurately
Define your problems clearly in writing. Accurate diagnosis is half the cure. Sometimes you will find that you are dealing with a “cluster problem”, one that is made up of several smaller problems. Your job is to sort them out and then go to work on each one separately. In many cluster problems, there is a core issue surrounded by many symptoms. Creative thinking requires that you separate the core issue, the root cause, and then focus on resolving that before worrying about the smaller problems and symptoms.
State your problem in problematic terms—this is from Session 8 of Turbo’s Leadership Development Lab (LDL). Recognize that a problem well-stated is a problem half-solved! State your problem in “problematical” terms—one statement, not a question. Your well stated problem will pinpoint the issue with specificity, and won’t include the cause or the solution.
Here are two things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action.
First, be absolutely clear about your goal. Write it down and make a plan to achieve it, creatively. Think of different ways you can accomplish it. Second, define your problems clearly and then make a list of all possible solutions to your problem. Take action on at least one idea immediately.
Creativity and the ability to solve problems are just two of the leadership qualities we stimulate and grow in the Leadership Development Lab. Contact us for information on enrolling in the Fall LDL in Salem or in your area by emailing email@example.com.