Creativity… we long for it — we love it — we pay for it. Yet this coveted commodity is readily available within us. Many simply do not know how to leave the world of the mundane and predictable and enter into the world where anything is possible. So to help you explore new places in your next creative or brainstorming meeting, here are some principles to guide your way:
- Think Verbally. Creativity is all about utilizing the stream of consciousness to connect dots in ways no one else sees. In order to have a collective stream of consciousness, you need to think out loud. All ideas need to be put on the table. Far too many good ideas never surface for fear of being thought of as inappropriate, off target, or just plain weak. By exposing all ideas — even bad ones — to the light of evaluation, your chances of finding a “keeper” are increased dramatically.
- Think Differently. The best creativity occurs when you can get the logic side of your brain to disengage. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes … Stand or sit somewhere different than your normal perch … Look at the project upside down, inside out, or from the back to the front. Change the way you look at that piece of the world. We have turned out the lights and let the client use their imagination to describe a TV set, while the artist sketched what they heard; we have placed ourselves in a small village in India describing the sights, sounds, and smells to write an appeal letter; we have brainstormed hundreds of words to develop a product name.
- Think Positively. Pronouncing an idea submission as no good at the moment it’s offered is probably one of the most common reasons people withhold more contributions and lose the creative edge. Regardless of the idea’s merits, it’s not worth losing that person’s additional contributions when they withdraw due to embarrassment or offense. Resist the temptation to edit when you are in the “idea gathering mode.” Don’t bring any negative attitudes into the meeting. They will short-circuit everyone’s energy. If you’re a wet blanket, go dry off somewhere else.
- Think Descriptively. Express what you like about an idea. Develop dialogue around a concept or idea. Ask the contributor for more detail. “That’s good. Tell us what you mean.” Sometimes ideas can have more than one meaning. Utilize the power of collective creativity to explore every angle — even the ridiculous. Remember a crazy idea and a brilliant idea may be sitting next to each other.
- Think Practically. Plan to be successful creatively. Don’t try to be creative at the end of a long, hard day or right after lunch. Fatigue in a brainstorming meeting is like pulling a wagon with square wheels. Creative meetings should take place when people are fresh and in good spirits. Get up. Walk around the room if necessary. Bring a beverage or maybe a small snack. Allow for a measure of fun and playfulness. If kept under control, it can serve as grease to the gears of creativity. If the group is dry, regroup, recharge, and meet again later. Don’t force it.
- Think Flexibly. When you are evaluating all your ideas, be prepared to defend your logic. But, don’t be militant about it. After all, it’s a give-and- take process. Be open to someone else expanding on your “perfect contribution.” But if you like something, defend your rationale. Just try to be open-minded.
- Think Fearlessly. The enemy of creativity is fear. If you want to strangle the flow of creative juices to the task of solving problems, just let fear enter into your chemistry. Potential will yield to the cynical. And “why not” will wither under the heat of “cannot.” Be willing to “go where no one has gone before.” If you’re the first one there, the potential is awesome!
As you approach the daily challenges of growing a ministry or a business, realize that growth sometimes requires a bold new approach. Whether you are coming up with a new name or trying to find new revenue streams, you must not be afraid to try something different. Embrace the idea of thinking outside the conventional box. The process is fun and the progress is well worth the effort when you THINK CREATIVELY!