Edward de Bono, the Maltese born Psychologist, Author and father of lateral thinking once controversially stated that “Creativity, however one chooses to define it, is a skillset that can be taught, rather than simply manifesting itself as a natural trait that people are either born with or without”. This goes against many common ideas that certain people are just born ‘creative’ or ‘artistic’. For many, the ability to pick up a talent such as writing, drawing or playing an instrument can seem unattainable, but if de Bono’s theory that lateral, or “outside the box” thinking can be taught holds weight, then what does this mean for those of us who’ve always dreamed of being creative?
Ask any artist, writer, or poet when they mostly find themselves hitting the wall, and you can almost guarantee they’ll quite passionately tell you that forcing yourself to ‘be creative’ is a sure fire way to turn the tap off, especially if they’re a) working with a collective or b) working to a tight schedule. Most people know, as soon as they’re given a deadline, specific end goal or some kind of restriction, that the creativity they’re used to experiencing dries up. It’s a fairly popular occurrence that your best ideas come to you in the most unlikely of locations, such as the shower or even in the middle of the night. This is often because we’re in our most relaxed state, allowing the creative side of our brains to run wild. Companies that expect outside the box thinking from their employees, whilst running a very formal, straight-laced business will likely find that their employees struggle to innovate, reducing the chance of a breakthrough.
Creative Spaces to Think
For instance, internet giants Google are a prime example of the opposite end of the spectrum. Well known for their relaxed office spaces, many of their headquarters include quirky designs and features such as swimming pools, artwork and even an in-house gym. The company reported an annual revenue of $89.46 billion at the end of 2016, implying this method is resulting in zero issues with profitability, or innovation.
As well as the search engine giant, Mark Zuckerberg’s social media behemoth Facebook is also well known for its relaxed and open workspace, designed to improve free thinking and includes a ball pit and even a rooftop garden. As of 2017, Zuckerberg is worth an eye-watering $70.7 billion dollars, once again indicating, that perhaps this method holds some weight.
Don’t fear the idea
The biggest factor that often stops people from hitting their potential when it comes to ideas, is fear. People often find themselves worried or hesitant to speak up in fear that they’ll feel silly or be judged negatively when they put their ideas forward, but thinking ‘inside the box’ as it were, is exactly why we struggle to innovate. Don’t be frightened to be a little wacky with your ideas, and from the other side of the fence, don’t judge people for putting forward a mad concept, as it may just work, or develop into a much more realistic plan. Relaxing the atmosphere around your team encourages better communication between parties, stronger ideas and less snap back when people over-reach with their ideas.
Take away points:
- Relax the environment around you
- Don’t be fearful of what others think, some of the greatest ideas in history have been completely unique
- Never judge others for their input
- Keep open channels of communication between both staff and management
- Keep your eye on successful companies, and see what huge leaps they’ve taken over time.
If you really find yourself struggling to innovate, remember how ridiculous ground-breaking ideas would have seemed at their time of creation. For instance, imagine if 100 years ago you’d said that a fizzy drink company (Coca Cola) would come to have a market share of $188 billion dollars, with over 1.8 billion bottles sold daily. Or that a company started in a garage (Amazon) would have its owner placed third on the list of world’s richest people, and allow you to have a complete stranger deliver products to your house, on the same day, all from a device in your pocket.
“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things” – Ray Bradbury
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