Last week, I participated in a panel discussion on creativity for the Minnesota PRSA chapter. We discussed creativity from a variety of angles:
* How do we define creativity?
* How do we sell creative ideas to clients?
* And how do we boost creativity for ourselves and our teams?
It’s that third point I want to talk about a bit more today.
Let’s face it: Creativity is the lifeblood of our business. Without creative new ideas, we’re merely order takers. People checking tasks off the list.
But, WITH those new ideas, we become indespensible thinkers who can lead real change and drive business for the companies we work with and represent.
So, just how do you go about fostering that creativity? Here are a few ways I’ve found to be effective in the last few years:
Read more Cosmo
I read so much industry stuff throughout the week (blogs, mainstream media, etc.) that it really pays to get away from that for a little bit each week. I try to read a book far outside my wheelhouse each quarter. Right now, I’m reading Proof of Heaven (really interesting). Another tack I’ll take when it comes to generating ideas for this blog–read my wife’s women’s magazines! Magazines are great at packaging information–especially women’s mags like Comso, US Weekly and People. Leafing through these for a bit always gives me a few ideas on how to package information differently on this blog.
Visit local landmarks
This is something we try to do with our kids. During MEA weekend a couple weeks ago we took an afternoon to tour our own city–something we rarely do. We visited the U of M campus, toured the Capitol and led a self-guided tour at the St. Paul Cathedral. Definitely a new experience for us all. Did it generate a new idea for me last week? No. Will it help germinate a new idea in the weeks and months? Maybe.
Start TED Talk Tuesdays
This is an idea my wife and I had a while back to inspire us–but also just to learn. We started watching TED Talks on our Apple TV every Tuesday night. Just a couple. But, it was enough to get us thinking differently. And it exposed us to a bunch of new ideas, and thinkers.
“Create pockets of stillness”
This is actually an idea from Maria Popova of Brain Pickings (subscribe now!) that I fully subscribe to. How creative can you really be if you’re working feverishly all the time? You need to create what those “pockets of stillness” in your life, to allow that creativity to germinate. For me, that means coffee on my porch without any electronic devices. A short walk around my neighborhood during the workday. Or, time alone after my kids go to bed–no TV, no iPad, no laptop. I also happen to love this video from John Cleese on creativity (not really related to the pockets of stillness theory, but a great watch, if you have time).
Turn to the Yellow Pages
Us panelists were asked to facilitate a creative exercise at the event last week. My exercise involved the Yellow Pages (yes, THOSE Yellow Pages). I ripped out 5 random pages from the Yellow Pages and laid them on the table. I then asked participants to pick two items/categories from the pages in front of them to create a new product/service. Then, they had to give that product/service a name, and a slogan. My favorite from the evening involved combining tour companies and plumbers to start a business that involved providing tours of the most famous MSP toilets. The business name: Tour of Thrones. The slogan: Our tours stink. I got great feedback on the exercise, and plan to use it with clients down the road. Could you try something similar with your Monday morning team meeting to get the creative juices flowing?
Note: Image courtesy of trib via FlickR Creative Commons.