Harnessing Creativity to Make Powerful Decisions
The creative process is driven by imagination. The more imaginative one is, the greater one's potential for creativity. The injection of creativity into problem analysis broadens the base of information and ideas that are ultimately incorporated into the selection of a solution. If problem analysis is to be imaginative, then it must therefore be imposed on the decision-making process.
A major problem is that too few of us are imaginative. In his seminal study on creativity, Why Didn't I Think of That?, Charles W. McCoy Jr. reports that children lose one-half of their creativity between the ages of five and seven, and adults over forty retain less than two percent of the creative drive they had as children. The implications are that the average person of working age is not very creative. This is where creativity tools come into play. These tools are simple techniques that help ensure the analysis of a problem has greater breadth and depth than it might otherwise possess. Learn the necessary skills to build a creative toolbox and improve your decision-making skills.
Creativity is Imagination
The creative process is driven by imagination. The more imaginative one is, the greater one’s potential for creativity. George Bernard Shaw said, “Imagination is the beginning of creation. We imagine what we desire; we will what we imagine; and at last we create what we will.” Imagination is the internal process that drives the external expression which is perceived as creativity.
Unfortunately, the problem is that too few of us are imaginative. In his seminal study on creativity, Why Didn’t I Think of That?, Charles W. McCoy Jr. reports children lose one-half of their creativity between the ages of five and seven, and adults over forty retain less than two percent of what they had as children.
The implication is that the average working age person is not very creative. If problem analysis is to be imaginative, then it must therefore be imposed on the decision-making process. This is where creativity tools come into play. These tools are simple techniques that help ensure the analysis of a problem has greater breadth and depth than it might otherwise.
Judgments are the Problem
It is judgmental thinking that the tools of creativity are helping to overcome. Judgments are limits that hold back our thinking. People become increasingly judgmental as they age, and we presume to understand and “know” things. Over time, we become more opinionated and increasingly rigid in our perceptions of ourselves, others, and everything around us.
Being judgmental is the basis of bigotry and preconceived notions about anyone or anything. It is the reason so many decision makers are narrow minded in their perspective or analysis of a problem and its solutions.
Judgments are what keep us all “in a box.” They are why one person will consider a particular act “reasonable” while another would label it “outrageous.” Judgments are boundaries that we impose on ourselves; they are the limits on our imaginations and, therefore, our creativity.
Self-judgment stems from fear of embarrassment or a rigid mindset that does not believe the imagination should be permitted to wander. Left to atrophy, the imagination eventually becomes unable to be spontaneous.
The techniques described below are tools that help to get the creative juices flowing. Regular practice is needed in order for them to work well.
Imagination takes time to do its magic. If you want creative solutions, you need to allow time for the imagination to perform. The optimum solution can only be discovered if imaginative thinking is given the time and tools to conceive it.
Charles W. McCoy Jr. writes, “Imagination plays a crucial role in all genuine creative thinking, because it allows the mind to see the unseen, envision the invisible, and transform ideas into reality.” The more time and technique that is applied to the creative side of problem analysis, the more likely you are to fully understand a problem before arriving at a decision.
The key to being truly creative is the ability and willingness to recognize the assumptions and beliefs that underlie perceptions of a problem and to think beyond them. Questioning the “norm” is an act of courage. To imagine courageously is to question tradition, to defy logic, and to refuse to conform.
Imagining courageously is about openly questioning what we, as well as others, believe to be true about a situation or issue. It is about suggesting the outrageous. Being courageous can be controversial and even dangerous. It takes courage to recognize what is conventional wisdom and to then think beyond it in a creative and productive way.
According to Charles W. McCoy Jr., “Genuine creativity requires raw courage; never flees from adversity, frustration or even failure; challenges conventional wisdom; and vigorously explores beyond the first workable answer to find the very best solution imaginable.”
Imagining courageously is all about suspending judgment. Do not let “group think” control your thought processes. Actively and openly look for the boundaries of colleagues’ mental boxes as well as your own, and then cast your imagination outside those boundaries—even if doing so might offend.