Much is written about various creativity tools and techniques. If you do a Google or Bing search you’ll find countless articles and videos related to brainstorming, brain-writing, Mind-Mapping and other creative thinking tools. As someone who talks about creativity all the time, I get it, people want something they can use to become more creative. And it’s true, these tools have immediate and positive impact. I’ve covered many of them in this blog, including frameworks like CPS.
But ultimately creative tools and techniques won’t make you “more creative.” They’ll make you more creatively effective, and there’s a difference. Becoming more creative means you change who you are and how you are being, core creative improvement, really, requires personal transformation. The good news, it’s possible. The bad news, it’s quite challenging. Being more creatively effective is a good thing, but it’s a relatively easy change compared to creative transformation.
Creativity is in each of us, that’s a given. We all have creative capacity. Still, without self-expression, without a sense of that force within us, all the tools and techniques in the world are window dressing.
Creativity is an integral part of who we are as human beings, it’s a lot more than Post-It Note brainstorming. Imagination, a creative product, is what makes us different from very smart Dolphins. Not that I know what a Dolphin might imagine, they might have a very rich imaginative life. But a Dolphin has very few outlets for that imagination, whereas humans have endless outlets for self-expression, and also endless outlets for creative suppression.
If you want to be more creative from the core of who you are, it requires changing how you think and behave. That’s why creative transformation is difficult, it’s changing very fundamental things. As my hero and creativity mentor Sid Parnes once said, Deferred Judgment is not just something you do when in the divergent phase of brainstorming, deferred judgment is a way of life. Imagine if you will…
- that you start listening with an ear for what is possible instead of what’s wrong
- that you treat your ideas and the ideas of others with respect, care, and thoughtfulness
- that you are able to distance yourself from the constant stream of critical judgement running through your head
If you could really integrate those three things into your thinking and life, would life be different? I think it would, and that “creative transformation” is a core-level change in who you are that will make you, indeed, more creative. Massively more creative. Combine that way of being with Tools and you are more creative AND more creatively effective. Is it easy to defer judgment as a way of life? Trust me on this, no, but one can make strides in ones journey. Deferral of Judgment is only one of the essential behaviours of a truly actualized creative person. The related concept of Tolerance for Ambiguity is another, but that’s a post for another day.
And yes, dear results-oriented business readers, being more creative and more creatively effective is THE foundational piece for innovation.