How do you become more creative in your projects? How do you create more innovative solutions to your most challenging tasks? How do creative people remain creative while working under the pressure of critical deadlines?
I thought I would share several ideas I learned from my clients over the years. Many of these ideas were shaped by Steve Jobs and his marketing team when I first started working with Apple in the early 80s.
Many of my clients are emerging technology organizations. Often, their leadership teams are dominated by engineers, financial professionals, and analytical people who prefer the world of black and white. They’d rather not color outside the lines. Steve Jobs spent his career coloring outside the lines..
I was hired because of my work in marketing and advertising in the consumer goods and consumer electronic industries. Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen a rise in creativity among the engineering ranks led by Steve Jobs and his product development teams at Apple. His successes at founding different organizations in creative industries led to a creativity revolution among many successful global entrepreneurs. This may be his lasting leadership legacy. So how can we help you be more creative today?
In working and leading a wide range of new product development teams and industries, I’ve seen several capabilities that most creative people embrace. I believe many of you possess these key creative capabilities, but struggle to apply them in your working environment. If you take an engineer out of the workplace and they create incredible music, amazing designs, or stunning photography. Steve Jobs felt his creativity was enhanced by his study of a wide variety of subjects that he enjoyed learning about.
The first capability most creative people possess is they are experts at what they do. This may seem obvious, but if you hope to break the rules you need to know what they are to start with. Most creative people have a foundation of expertise from which they build. Many times, it not in the field they work in, but they’ve developed confidence in their primary field so they feel free to explore and discover new ideas and concepts. Most creative people are confident in their ability to master new ideas because they’ve mastered other fields.
The second capability most creative people possess is they know how to read other people. They are very good at understanding how others think about things and become very good at building bridges to their audience. Learn how to connect the dots for others and they will follow you anywhere. Invest time in understanding people who are different than you and you become more connected and creative. The more expansive your view, the more creative you become.
The third capability most creative people possess is they are willing to step outside their own comfort zone. The most creative doctors I know are willing to challenge themselves as well as other team members. This quality allows them to be curious about almost anything they experience. Since most creativity is incremental your ability to continue growing is critical to your success in being creative. This is why many creative people have varied interests and are always looking for new experiences.
The fourth capability most creative people possess is they talk with outsiders about what they work on. They have vital networks of people to bounce ideas off. How many people do you interact with outside your traditional work setting? Creative people create networks of complementary people to bounce ideas off. Want to expand your creativity? Expand your circle of friends who have different interests. Steve Jobs spent significant time interacting with others both inside and outside his inner circles.
Finally, make sure you approach your work with a high level of energy and fun. The fifth capability most creative people possess is they are energized by what they do and how they attack problems. If you aren’t having fun, you will not be very creative. It’s important for creative people to be aware of how they are using their energy. Steve Jobs learned how to manage his energy and resources.
Most times, creative people seem to have unlimited energy for the projects they tackle. Here’s a secret that drives left-brain people crazy, many of my better clients have found a way to sneak off for a nap or a meditation break. Thomas Edison would take several short naps during his work day to keep his creative juices flowing. Steve Jobs regularly meditated throughout his career to reenergize. Are you willing to take a break to reenergize? Try it when you’re working on a tight deadline. You may be surprised how quickly you recover by just taking a short break. You become much more productive after your short break.
See you tomorrow when we share Des Walsh’s first blog posting for us. See you then.