Will, Skill, Drill

Being more creative is all about will, skill and drill.

First, you have to want to. That’s the will. You have to have the attitude that there’s always a better way. You have to be dissatisfied.

What that means is that every itch is an opportunity. You don’t have to look far to find something ripe for improvement, whether a product or a service, a relationship, or the way your life is unfolding. Opportunities for creative and productive thinking are everywhere.

Once you have the will, you need to develop a set of skills. One of my favorite quotes is by Jerry Hirschberg, former CEO of Nissan Design. He said, “Creativity is not an escape from disciplined thinking. It’s an escape with disciplined thinking.” In other words, you have to learn how. A very few people learn that by themselves, but most of us need help.

We start with creative heuristics developed by others — thinkers from Leonardo to Edison to Torrance to Parnes — and make our lives a path of continuous development, learning from every source possible.

Finally, you have to drill. In other words, you have to practice. No one becomes a first-rate golfer or tennis player or musician overnight. And no one becomes a first-rate creative thinker overnight. It takes work and mistakes and corrections and more work again.

Eventually you start to make a few minor breakthroughs. In time you have something to build on. And you keep going until you’ve got something that works, that’s really new, that really makes a difference.

One of the most important things we at ThinkX tell our clients is, “Stop thinking there are magic bullets that will make your people more creative in an instant.” The notion of quick fixes and instant creativity is actually one of the biggest barriers to developing creative capacity.

Posted by Tim Hurson, 2 comments

You Can’t Do That!

When do you feel uncomfortable with new ideas? Probably when they challenge your assumptions or, worse still, your core beliefs.

It wasn’t till 1920 that American woman acquired the right to vote.* President Grover Cleveland was convinced that “sensible and responsible women do not want to vote.” Even Mark Twain, as a young man, was opposed to Women’s Suffrage (though he later changed his views). So contentious was the issue of Suffrage that protests often ended in violence. Today, it’s hard to imagine that the question of a woman’s right to vote would be an issue at all.

The most difficult environment for new ideas is when we think we are firmly in possession of “the truth” — whether about the competence of other people, the causes of climate change, or simply our own potential.

And yet, it’s precisely when we challenge our assumptions that we find the most exciting and productive ideas: surgery without knives, telephones without wires, generating energy from thin air, drinking recycled pee (as they did on Atlantis!), or a new direction for personal discovery…

Our discomfort is often the signal that a new idea may have promise. So tune in to your emotional responses. Whenever you feel uncomfortable about a new idea, pay attention — you may be on to something.

*New Zealand was the first major country to grant voting rights to women in 1893. Australia did so in 1902, Canada in 1917, the UK in 1918.

“Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done and why. Then do it.” – ROBERT HEINLEIN (1907-1988)

Posted by Tim Hurson, 0 comments