Nurture your own innovative brain by asking and answering these three questions.
One of my favorite quotes about creativity comes from entrepreneur Marie Forleo, who coined the tagline “Create before you consume.”
Now, upon first reading, you might think this only applies to those who are in the creative professions or are entrepreneurs. However, I believe this idea applies just as easily in organizations where leaders and teams must create new ways to serve members, solve complex problems or update processes to fit the evolving digital workplace landscape.
In fact, creativity before consumption has been taking place almost daily in the last year as we’ve worked to keep pace with the demands of the world—demands that forced us to think differently and adjust our work routines and ways of doing business. We were forced to get creative in ways we never thought possible.
Forleo’s quote is noteworthy because it challenges a belief that most of us have, which is that we aren’t creative. Those who believe this tend to lean on outward resources and experts for ideas before starting their own creative thinking process. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with seeking out knowledge or ideas from others, doing so at the expense of doing your own thinking and brainstorming could lead to difficulty finding one’s own unique, innovative ideas.
So, when it comes to fostering creativity in ourselves and others, how do we begin? As with so many things, the power is not in the answers but in the questions. I recently found such questions in the Harvard ManageMentor course, “Innovation and Creativity.” This course is a great starting point for anyone who wants to develop their creativity or bring innovative ideas to their organization. Among the many helpful resources is a worksheet with these three questions:
- What is one thing I am curious about today?
- What is one thing I usually take for granted that I want to explore?
- What “why” questions can I ask at work today?
Knowing the questions is just the start. Put them in action to help creative ideas flow more easily. You could start your day reflecting on them, pose one at the start of a one-on-one meeting, or incorporate them into team meetings to build confidence, share ideas and create a safe space for creative problem-solving.
So often, creativity is looked at as something that can’t be nurtured or developed; we either have it or we don’t. What Forleo and the Harvard course remind us is that just the opposite is true. All we need is a shift in mindset and the right questions.
Jen Scheib is professional development coordinator at CUES.