5 Ways We’re Killing Creative Insights

Creativity can be the key to long term business success. It acts as a differentiator for your business and has been shown to be ranked as the number one factor for future business success by CEO’s. So how do we have these creative insights?

Well, as someone in a creative field, I’m always looking for ways to improve the consistency in which to capture these insights.

A great book that discusses this subject in depth is The Leading Brain: Powerful Science-based Strategies for Achieving Peak Performance by Friederike Fabritius, MS, and Hans W. Hagemann, PhD, in which they explain powerful strategies for capturing creativity.

What I found surprising is that we can’t consciously trigger creative insights and people who’re considered creative, typically have an increased capacity for what is known as divergent thinking.

So, if we can’t consciously trigger creative insights, how can we increase our ability to have divergent thoughts?

As it turns out, there’s several easy things we can do to encourage this thinking. However, I’ve found it easier to remember the things we might be doing wrong. So, before we get to what to do, here’s what not to avoid.

1. Being in a bad mood

Being in a bad mood can hurt your overall ability to have that aha moment. Studies have shown that people with a sunny disposition are more likely to achieve that flash of insight that leads to a breakthrough.

2. Being stressed out

If you’re stressed out, chances are you’re less likely to have an insightful moment you’ve been looking for. Tight deadlines, grumpy employees, or unclear expectations around your work are just some of things that create undue stress.

3. Following a strict set of guidelines

As someone who likes structure, it was upsetting to know that I was actually hurting my chances of triggering creative insight by following the rules. In fact, a strict set of guidelines that leaves little variation to explore the unknown is almost like wearing blinders. If all you’re doing is follow the path that’s already laid out in front of you, you could be missing out on the many opportunities that lie beyond it.

4. Keeping a narrow focus

Keeping your nose to the grindstone and not giving yourself opportunities to explore the extraneous or taking breaks to have a little fun could actually be impeding your chances of having that eureka moment.

5. Being surrounded by chaos and cross talk

Working in a chaotic and noisy environment can have an adverse effect on creativity. Having people talking around you or listening to complex musical compositions can harm your ability in making connections to an open-ended problem.

None of these methods are full proof for killing creativity, however, they do drastically reduce your chances of having that creative insight required to run a successful business.

Now, since we have a good handle on what can discourage creative insights, let’s have a look at ways we can encourage them.

1. Make it fun

People who’re having fun and laughing are usually more likely to generate creative ideas. David Abramis, a phycologist at Cal State Long Beach, found that people who are having fun are more creative, productive and able to make better decisions.

2. Throw away the box

Creativity has been shown to almost always thrive on the absence of restrictions. However, for many of us, we can’t always remove all the restrictions, but if we’re able to open up and remove some constraints or look at a problem in a new way, we’re more likely to boost our ability to capture insight.

3. Change it up

If you’ve been working at a problem for a while, change things up. Taking a moment to step back and take a break or doing something completely different, such as exercise or singing can help give your brain time to process information. And if what you’re doing seems goofy, good. As mentioned previously, having fun will help boost your creative prowess.

4. Listen to how you feel

Being mindful to your inner awareness and feelings can help improve your creativity. Finding moment for inner stillness and quiet are a great way to focus your awareness. It’s difficult to have this kind of insight when you’re focused on what others are doing, so unplug. Get off social media or take a step outside the office. After all, your brain can’t have that eureka moment if you’re caught up in what others are doing.

5. Don’t talk, listen

While it can feel natural to verbalize what you’re thinking, talking can actually be disruptive in guiding your intuition towards creative insight. In fact, when researchers tasked two groups of people to solve a problem, the silent groups were able to find solutions 60 percent of the time, while the verbal problem solving groups were shown to solve the problem only slightly more than 30 percent of the time.

It’s no mistake that many of the things that ruin are ability to capture these creative insights are the direct opposite of what we must do to achieve them. By leveraging divergent thinking and the subsequent creative insights that follow, we’re more readily prepared to develop unique ideas that allow us to stand apart from competitors and be more memorable in the minds of our clients.

Tanner Garniss-Marsh, RGD, is a brand strategist and designer working with business owners to bring their envisioned brand to life with strategic and practical solutions.

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