Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really  do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.

Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple

Have you been noticing a common theme in the business articles and research you have been reading lately? I bet you have. Are you witnessing, as I am, how prevalent Creativity (Innovation) is in our business conversations today? How does this make you feel? Are you “fist pumping” enthusiastically because Creativity is one of your strengths? Or are you “moaning and groaning” because it’s the last thing you have time to focus on in your busy firefighting day? Or are you someone who believes Creativity is in some mysterious way associated with being divinely gifted? If you relate more to the first, perhaps you do not need to read this email. However, if you find, the latter two responses closer to your belief system then keep on reading. The truth is that you do not have to be a blessed Creativity-god to produce tangible improvements nor does it have to consume huge chunks of your time. Simply observe the work practices around you from a process improvement point-of-view that’s Creativity in action! How do you measure up in Creativity? At its root, business Creativity is looking at processes, services or products with an original mindset. And although we’re focusing on your strength as a singular pursuit, Creativity is rarely a lone-wolf endeavor. Rather, far more often, it is problem-solving enhanced by the collaborative creative spark of everyone as one after another adds value. What is a “just right” Creativity focus? When you are at your best, using your strength of Creativity, you are making connections and putting ideas together in novel ways that often inspire others or lead to new and interesting solutions. In today’s marketplace, where ideas bubbling-up may make the difference between profit or loss, do not hold back. If you have ideas, share them. What are some simple shifts you can make to engage your Creativity?

  • Creative Blocks: Julia Cameron wrote an amazing book, The Artist’s Way, which spread like wildfire through the business community. For some years, she led workshops for writers and artists to assist them remove blocks to Creativity until she was encouraged to write a book so everyone could open the door to their own Creativity. It is chock full of exercises intended to open the reader to ignite Creativity. I remember one challenged the reader to identify where their creative block originated. I’d always considered myself creative, so I thought: “Oh that’s relevant to someone else, not me.” That is until a kindergarten memory came roaring back where the teacher labeled my “work” as the “what not to do” example! Umm… what comes to mind for you?Julie also believes that handwriting three pages every day is a powerful tool for unlocking your mind. You are to do this even if you can’t think of anything. Julie instructs the reader to repetitively write: “I have nothing to record.” Though honestly, I never made it to three pages before ideas starting streaming across the pages.
  • Curiosity Opens the Mind: When you are curious, you naturally ask questions and listen to incorporate new thinking. It is having an interest in learning, exploring and discovering. The act of asking questions is the underpinning that you and your company’s future stand upon for product/service innovation, process improvements, and customer satisfaction. (Click the link if you are interested in learning more about Curiosity
  • The Environment: Setting rules for problem solving is less likely to result in truly innovative products or people.[1] Stunted Creativity also occurs when you are under pressure. Or you are too closely supervised. Or you are subjected to critical examination too early in the process. Or severe constraints are imposed on the number of solutions you generate. According to research, it is easier to inhibit Creativity than it is to facilitate it.[2] So, set the stage for Creativity. Allow yourself plenty of time, do not settle for one answer (and do not let others be satisfied with one either) and be open to all ideas—particularly the wild and contentious ones.
  • Multiples Multiply: This theory may seem surprising and yet, subjective evidence supports the concept. It appears that highly creative individuals find as they are working on several projects simultaneously, the Creativity energy generated from one project often spurs breakthrough on another project.

Can you overdo Creativity? In today’s marketplace, it is difficult to envision demonstrating too much Creativity as it is fundamental to success in business. However, the reality is any strength taken to the extreme—even Creativity—will not win you any points in the organization. You will find this particularly true when you are exclusively spending time on innovation to the detriment of your tactical/execution assignments. You’ll know that you have gone too far if you notice that executives in your office are scratching their heads over your ideas or just outright rejecting them. Responses such as these should lead to a big “rethink your approach” pause. This pause will have you asking exploration questions leading to different behaviors on your part. Start contemplating: Have I laid the groundwork prior to the big presentation for the decision-making executives to have clarity on this topic? Will my ideas add to the organization’s bottom-line? Does my concept fit the organization or is there additional work that needs to be done to implement it? Do you know your strengths? I have been receiving emails from executives who have been exploring their strengths. They are enjoying the results of being more productive, engaged and energized. You will find that assuming a strength focus will not only add value to your day, it will also display a powerful role modeling behavior for your peers and employees. Keep your eyes open for the next email, which will focus on yet another particular strength from the VIA Survey with practical tips on how to effectively use it on the job. Want to learn more? Let’s connect! It would be my pleasure to support you in beginning to live a life that is engaging, exciting and satisfying to YOU. Resource: Interested in digging in to this topic a bit more? View this excellent “how to” video on Creativity by Tina Seelig, Stanford professor, who shares what makes good ideas spring forward. She introduces six characteristics such as attitude, resources and environment. Have you taken the opportunity to discover your character strengths as yet? If you have not, go here to take the free 15-minute VIA Survey and receive your profile. To see a video on this subject, click here >>

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