Creativity in your business can help you capitalize on opportunities. It helps you see connections, where others see none. It also aids in presenting unique ideas, thinking of new revenue streams, and so much more. Creativity assists businesses in standing out from the crowd and a creative approach gives people yet another reason to know, like, and trust you.
But creativity in business needn’t be practiced with the breathtaking mastery or exquisite attention to detail that was needed for the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It can be something as utilitarian as a new solution for an existing problem.
For some, creativity comes naturally. For others, we need to create a high dive from which to jump. The good news is that creativity, or fostering of the creative, can be learned. Here are a five ways to start assembling that high dive for your business:
Indulge in Schema Violation
A large part of being creative is producing the unexpected. But doing that means breaking up patterns, which is not always easy. A schema violation (in psychology) is a disruption in an organized pattern of thought or behavior. When you perform a schema violation, it shakes things up in your brain. It alters your pattern of doing something and thus causes you to think more creatively.
Think of something you do daily and the way you do it. For instance, if you spend every morning looking at email for the first 30 minutes of the day, try a different activity instead. If you eat your lunch at your desk every day, try eating outside and then taking a walk.
Still having a hard time thinking of a schema to violate? Imagine someone imitating you at a roast or on Saturday Night Live. What would they do? What habit do you have that they would play up? That’s what you need to disrupt.
Get Out of the Office
Getting out of the office can be a schema violation in and of itself if it’s breaking your usual pattern of work. If you’re always out of the office, try getting in there for eight hours instead. The point with this suggestion is to vary the stimulus you’re exposed to every day. If you run a store and you’re unable to leave, try spending more time in front of the counter or outside. Change up what you look at every day.
Surround Yourself with Creative People
This one can be a challenge because there are an awful lot of followers out there. In some ways our culture is cultivating this. It’s very evident on social media. There are strokes of genius that then get shared by thousands of people, instead of those posters coming up with their own genius.
It’s not all because of social media. Look at the many painting businesses that teach us how to create a masterpiece in an evening. There’s a time and a place for replication and a time for creativity. As Nikola Tesla said, “I don’t care that they stole my ideas. I care that they don’t have any of their own.”
If you don’t want to be lumped into that group, it’s important you spend time with others who are trying to be creative. You could join a writer’s group, take an art class, or hang out in Kindergarten for a few hours. Studies have shown that working in close proximity to “creatives,” helps people be more creative.
Spend Time with Shallow Ties
Mark Granovetter, a sociologist and professor at Stanford University, published a paper in 1973 that still rings true today. In it, he wrote of interpersonal ties and the value of “weak ties.” In today’s world, we refer to them as “Facebook friends.” These are people you know, but not well.
For creativity purposes, they are your best audience. You are less likely to worry excessively about their opinions and reactions to your creative ideas, and they most likely have a different background than your own. If you want to be more creative, don’t use your closest ties as your audience. Turn to your shallow (or weak) ones.
Think of reading as you do your diet. Everything in moderation. There’s a time and place for beach reads and nonfiction, works of literary merit and experimental pieces. Reading helps you understand new worlds, synthesize thoughts, and impress non-readers.
Stories are powerful, whether you’re using historical examples in your communications and presentations, or story lines you read in your favorite fiction work. These pieces resonate with the audience because its members see something of themselves in them.
Reading, unlike television, is an active pursuit. You are co-creating with the author and it improves your creative thinking. Creativity is a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it becomes.
A Final Word About Creativity
Letting go of fear has become a popular talk show and keynote topic; but it’s also a key component in becoming more creative. True creatives worry little about what others will say. As a business owner, you don’t fully have the same luxury as a starving artist. You do need to keep the doors open; but if your creativity is focused on the needs of your ideal customer you will be headed down the right path.