Most of us stop believing we’re creative around fourth grade. This is according to David Kelley, founder of design firm IDEO, who is quoted in a Wall Street Journal article on innovation. It seems like a cruel way to herald the end of childhood–once we stop believing in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, the next thing on the list is creativity? Luckily creativity isn’t a mythical character; it’s a way of thinking that can be learned.
In The Innovator’s DNA, authors Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and Clayton M. Christensen say everyone has the capacity for creativity. After studying psychological tests, they found that the ability to generate ideas is closely related to things people learn and do, and only 20 to 40 percent of performance is genetically based. The key is learning how to change our behaviors and bring out this innovation. They say ideas occur when people are engaged in the following activities:
1. Associating — Connecting ideas, disciplines, and problems that are seemingly unrelated.
2. Questioning — Playing the devil’s advocate and challenging what most people are saying.
3. Observing — People watching and reading news on a variety of topics.
4. Networking — Talking to people with different views and opinions.
5. Experimenting — Taking apart a product, service, process or idea, then putting it back together. Exploring new activities and learning new skills.
In public relations, creativity is an essential skill needed to implement fresh ideas that will drive growth for our clients. It’s easy to list off five tips that help create ideas, but it’s another thing to actually put these tips into action. Furthermore, there isn’t a set list of actions or behaviours that constitutes creativity. Writing excellent content, for example, is often seen as a creative task for most people, but almost anything can require (or be creativity) if it leads to a desirable outcome, even when that is not obvious at the time. Technical work like software engineering, bringing new solutions to the market, pitching a client, measuring the effectiveness of an SEO campaign based on various data, literally anything can involve creativity.
At March Communications, we have innovation embedded in our culture. Our office is an open environment (with new yoga balls!) where we’re encouraged to associate, question, observe, network, and experiment on a daily basis. How do you encourage personal creativity, and what do you think makes an innovative company?
This post was first published by Rachel Leamon on March Communications’ blog, PR Nonsense, and may be viewed here.