How to be more creative at work
Friday 10 June 2022
An increasing body of research shows that creativity at work has a positive impact for both the employee and employer. Here are 3 ways to be more creative at work.
If you’re trying to come up with a new idea, do not expect it to arrive in a single moment. Instead, step back and appreciate that creativity is a process that plays out in various stages. The first of these, says psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman, is preparation: feeding your brain with information. The second is incubation: where you “stop consciously thinking about the problem you’re trying to solve” and just “let your mind wander”. In the third stage, illumination, the idea strikes … but there is a fourth stage, verification, in which you shape the idea for presentation to your audience.
Some tips relating to the preparation stage are offered by Sarah Stein Greenberg, the executive director of Stanford University’s design faculty. Approach your problem with a curious mind and “get as good as you can at learning quickly, connecting the dots, and responding to new information and improvising along the way”. Spend more time listening to customers, colleagues and mentors and asking yourself why things are done in a certain way. Clear and expand your mind by engaging it with museums and books. And business leaders can help by encouraging their teams to be playful and separating idea generation from idea evaluation.
Just as important as the active preparation stage is the passive incubation stage.
Wired magazine advises that a great way of letting your mind wander free is to free yourself physically. Take long walks like Charles Dickens, for example. It notes a New York University study about the greater creativity of students who were allowed to walk freely, rather than along a fixed path. Another slightly more focused technique is to carve time out of your day to put your unfiltered thoughts down on paper. Write three long-hand pages of whatever comes to mind, with or without a prompt, recommends TV producer Gavin Purcell.