Many of us relate creativity to artistic endeavours or even as a way to relax. But how does creativity relate to our work or even corporate working life?
In our physiological and neurological development, creativity and play help children learn and develop many skills, both practical and soft skills like social interaction. In adult life the principles for how creativity can enhance our working life remain exactly the same.
Not only can creativity enhance learning, it can help people think ‘outside of the box’ and give organisations novel ideas and an economic edge. The saying does go ‘outside of the box is where the magic happens,’ and as cheesy as this may sound, it would seem there is some grounding to it.
How does creativity happen?
Taking a look at the cognitive processes that occur in the brain when we’re working something through or generating ideas, we can separate these into three categories, or three modes of thinking. These are: convergent thinking, otherwise known as critical thinking; divergent thinking, which is non-lateral or creative thinking; and lateral thinking, the combination of the previous two. Depending on which problem we are seeking to solve, whether it’s coming up with a new product or concept, or finding a new approach to something you’ve always done, each mode of thinking can provide different benefits or approaches.
By now, most of us have heard the theories surrounding the left brain-right brain thinking, or ‘Mason-Dixon Line’, which separates our brains' thinking modes into two regions. The left brain is associated with logical processing, and the right-brain spontaneous and creative thinking with minimal limits. It is the right brain that is often highlighted as an underused resource in many publications.
Focusing on convergent thinking, or creativity as it’s more simply known, can provide the opportunity to expand our thinking. In the book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule The Future, Dan Pink outlines how those who are able to access the right brain and think creatively are those who will experience success in the years to come. That comes down to accessing these new ideas that take things that bit further. So, how do we become more creative at work and to what benefit?
How do we achieve creativity?
It's clear that getting creative is an essential part of remaining forward thinking economically in coming years, but switching this on may seem daunting to a lot of naturally logical thinkers, especially when we have traditionally been taught and encouraged to think logically in most work-related instances. A starting point is questioning how you currently do things – does this need to be done like this or is there a better way? You may not realise creativity is needed if this isn’t a question you pose, but not doing this could jeopardise originality. Once you’ve identified an opportunity to think of a new idea, you can then adopt methods to unleash your creative thinking. These may be brainstorming activities either independently or in groups, or alternative ways to get your brain thinking outside of the box or non-linear. Creative thinking is something everyone has the potential to do and the potential to harness more of their right brain thinking. Simply through being aware of the need to get creative at work can in of itself improve performance in your role or organisation.
Creativity is essential to remain current and everyone has the potential to harness their inner creativity and get creative at work. To achieve this, look for practical methods to get more creative as this can help with idea generation, breadth of ideas and originality as well as opportunities that are crying out for you to think outside of the box.