One of those wacky underlying myths about creativity is that it’s impractical. I don’t know how it got started. Perhaps it stems from that other myth, that creativity is all about art, and of course, art is impractical (and yet another myth). Some say they don’t have time for a “process.” I suspect that the expression of divergent ideas related to a problem might feel impractical, might feel like a waste of time.
But it’s not.
Even on garden variety complex challenges, taking a bit of time to jam a short list of ideas and selecting the most promising candidate, ultimately saves a great deal of time. Creative thinking is actually a powerful time saver and highly practical for efficient problem solving — IF you know how.
Let me tell you about something that occurs in the courses I conduct on creative problem solving. I think it proves my point.
In order to give course participants a taste of the entire CPS process, I walk them through it as they address a real life challenge. They list wishes, they list facts, they frame the the challenge, they jam ideas, they refine one idea and put together a simple action plan. All in about 20 minutes. And with me talking (usually too much) and them writing. CPS is essentially a series of lists and choices.
At the end of my facilitated run through I always ask, “Who came up with a pretty good idea to solve their problem?” Typically, about half the group raises their hand. I then ask, “of those who didn’t, was there anything promising?” Nearly all the remaining raise their hand. In the subsequent debrief people express surprise. They often remark how they’ve been fretting about their challenge for months. They often say they are amazed at how quickly a problem can be solved if you simply face it, and then take the creative time.
So, months compared to 20 minutes. Years compared to days. Or worse, never solving a nagging problem because it isn’t confronted with creative thinking, a bit of applied imagination.
So, taking the time to be creative in a focused way is a high probability way to solve a challenge. Still think creativity is impractical?
In my view, it’s a waste of time not to be creative.
If you’re interested in the process I describe briefly above, two things: 1.) check out my business novel, Jack’s Notebook, it teaches the CPS process by way of an entertaining story, and, 2.) consider taking a course. I work with individuals or groups, if interested get in touch.