Creativity is a critical factor in the success of a business. It’s the differentiator between your company and the competition, or even between two individuals competing for a position. Without the ability to create value with a product, there is no success.
This is why creativity — the ability to view the world, pick up on things, make connections, and generate solutions — is the heart of success. It requires not only the thinking processes, but the generation of something new. We tap into our minds and use our knowledge, information, and experiences to innovate.
The nature of creativity is risky — it’s producing value by using imagination, design, and flexibility in new ways. Creativity isn’t always nurtured or encouraged in the workplace, though. But creativity is a muscle — the more you train it, the stronger it gets.
So how can you find ways to create value in the workplace and strengthen your creative muscle? First, let’s take a look at The Innovator’s DNA by Dyer, Gregersen, and Christensen. They outline five behavior patterns that go beyond the ability to generate ideas from the mind.
The first pattern is association, or drawing connections. The ability to connect two ideas, find common ground within two conflicts, or even relating ideas from different industries and topics are all ways to apply association. Take a moment to find connections between two seemingly unrelated ideas, no matter how crazy it might get.
The second behavior is questioning. Some of us are better at challenging common ideas because they have grown their creative muscle over the years. A child, for example, has the ability to ask a million questions about common things we overlook. Adopt the mind of a child and question everything that comes by you.
The third behavior is observing things around you, things you’ve questioned, and things you’ve associated. Understand the patterns around you, how competitors act, and how ideas progress. Then, challenge them.
Networking is the fourth behavior, one which many of us probably prefer to avoid. While networking has a physical requirement, you can also network with people and ideas online. Study the patterns, ideas, and themes from differing perspectives as well as ones that align with your beliefs. Make connections, find common ground, and generate solutions that provide value.
Finally, creativity is incomplete without a final product or innovation which is why experimenting is the final behavior. It’s one thing to create ideas and make connections, but it’s another to apply the solution to the problem at hand. Without a product (the created value), there is no progress or differentiation.
If you want to apply creativity to your work, develop these behaviors into habits. Create the space to sit and think about ideas. Challenge things that come across your mind before you do them. Find passion and commitment in the things you do. Develop motivation through these innovative behaviors and try new things. Take risks and find new ways to provide value. Discover a way to differentiate yourself or your company from the competition.
Creativity isn’t something you’re born with. You have to practice it, live it, and nurture it to get all the benefits. Just like a daily writing habit or eating regimen helps train you to improve, so will a creativity habit. Find a way to train your creative muscle often and you’ll find your work creativity improves.