Great ideas are the fuel that moves organizations forward. A new idea can streamline processes, solve problems or take your business in a new direction. While inspiration sometimes seems to come from nowhere, there are intentional steps you can take to encourage the development of great ideas.
Understanding Where Good Ideas Come From
Thinking that is both creative and productive involves two neural pathways. The associative pathway runs in the background of your mind. This network is responsible for making connections between disparate ideas. While this part of your brain can generate creative thoughts, these ideas may only amount to daydreaming if they have no practical application.
The normative network works in the foreground of your daily life, helping you make decisions and address problems. This pathway evaluates and adapts ideas so that they can work in the real world. When these networks work together, you can produce great ideas business leaders can put to use.
A Creative Mindset
“Creativity is just connecting things.” – Steve Jobs
People often do not give themselves credit for creativity. They imagine that truly creative ideas must lead to earth-shattering discoveries or great works of art. The reality is that innovative ideas are more about making connections or using current resources in new ways. There are several methods to foster a creative mindset.
Diversify Your Booklist
The bulk of your reading may focus on a single subject if you are trying to be an expert in a field. However, to make new connections, you must get input from a variety of sources. Reading books and listening to podcasts that take you to new places will build your resources for new ways of thinking.
Expand Your Social Circle
You are probably the most comfortable with people who share your worldview. Talking to individuals in different fields or from various backgrounds will challenge you to look at things in a new way.
Study Several Solutions to the Same Problem
Knowing the ways that other people solve challenges will improve your creativity skills. Looking at a problem from several angles enhances your ability to craft a creative solution.
Make Time for Creativity
Cultivating creative ideas is an intentional act. You may want to clear your schedule for some daily brainstorming. It can be helpful to do this early in the day when you are well-rested. An afternoon session during a brisk walk is another way to produce great ideas.
Personal Practices for Great Ideas
A calm mind has space for new thoughts. Regular mediation practices teach you how to let go of unhelpful thought patterns and pay attention to great ideas.
Capture Ideas as They Arise
Inspired thoughts can come unexpectedly. The associative neural pathway may make a connection in the middle of the night or while you are doing mindless chores. Because your mind fills up with other tasks and decisions, you will likely forget your great ideas if you do not record them. Carry a notebook or use your favorite notetaking app on your phone to capture ideas before they slip away.
Encouraging Creativity at Work
“I begin with an idea, and then it becomes something else.” – Pablo Picasso
There is a tendency to associate great ideas with individuals like inventors and artists. In the workplace, creativity is often a group activity. The enthusiasm derived from a new insight is contagious. When people gather together, one great idea can inspire several possible applications.
When human beings are under stress, they tend to rely on standard solutions. Harried employees looking to meet close deadlines are unlikely to come up with anything new. Instead, they will take the easiest path to meet the goal. Reducing stress in the workplace allows people to relax, dream and develop.
Make Time for Creative Activities
To give priority to innovative thinking, you can build time for creativity into the daily schedule. This period might take the form of a group brainstorming challenge, or it might be 30 minutes set aside for personal projects or reading.
A workplace that is too comfortable can also block creative efforts. The subtle adjustments necessary to handle a schedule change can be enough to put the brain into problem-solving mode. Rearranging the layout of the workplace will also create small challenges.
Great ideas do not just belong to a few exceptional individuals. Anyone can improve their creative efforts by setting aside time and space for innovative thinking. Are you looking for help inspiring the creativity of your team? Get in touch with me. I would be thrilled to work with you.