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Can you really be creative on demand?

Time is often cited as a barrier to creativity, and many companies still default to not-very-well-planned group brainstorms that don’t get the best out of people, wasting that precious resource. It’s well-understood that the brain needs time to incubate creative problems – time away from the challenge – pondering, making connections, forming insights and allowing the “tentacles of the mind” (James Webb Young) to crawl over the issues. That’s why we so often have our best ideas when we’re not thinking directly about them – in the shower, on the bus or walking the dog. A poorly run group brainstorm does nothing to allow these connections to be made, and even worse can put pressure on people to come up with solutions on the spot and erode confidence.

However, if you are in a corner and have to be creative quickly (in a group scenario or by yourself) then I’ve pulled together some of our favourite methods to help get the ideas flowing. You can use these tools in a workshop or brainstorm to prompt ideas, or even better, use them before you get people together (a day or so ahead, or over a weekend) to get the unconscious mind pondering the problem. Ask people to bring their ideas with them and in the session start to build on them, or work in creative pairs or threes, and dismiss the group session altogether.

Here’s a taster of one of the free creative hacks - different ways into your problem using tried and tested methods including:

Flex your risk muscles

“The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that's changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”

Mark Zuckerberg

Think about the project or topic you are working on:

  • What might happen if you take a risk? What might happen if you don’t?
  • What’s the riskiest thing you could do?
  • Why is it risky? How could you mitigate the risks?
  • What happens to your existing ideas if you make them MORE or LESS risky?
  • Would there be the benefit in taking a risk?
  • What role do you think risk has in relation to creativity?

Take little bets now and then and see what happens to your ideas.