We are facing some huge challenges at all levels. Political upheaval, social unrest and terrorism on the increase. But dealing with this requires leadership and new ways of doing things. There’s no excuse – get creative.
At a time when nobody seems to have a clue about what to do about anything there’s a simple solution. Reach for the Creative Problem Solving toolkit. But what’s that I hear you say? “I don’t have a creative toolkit”? Well yes you do – although often people fail to recognise it. By following some simple processes anybody can be creative in their approach to problems. This is not the preserve of a creative elite (even if such exists).
Is it how you think?
Most people happily use tools of all sorts without questioning how they actually work. Think of your phone or tablet. It does what it does and enables you to communicate, play games, take photos or manage documents and much more. Being creative is not about how you think so much as how you use processes to deliver results. So with the right tools there’s no excuse – get creative.
Four simple steps will get you a very long way indeed. Creative people trust process to deliver – even when the answers seem crazy. Second they spend the time to really understand the problem they are dealing with, using investigative methods to get to the root cause(s). There’s no magic to this but repeatedly asking “Why”? works pretty well most of the time. Third, they are playful in dealing with potential solutions – often going way out of the realm of received wisdom to gain insight. Finally they validate the solutions against resources and context – something that often is lacking when a defined solution is handed down for implementation.
Trust the process
In my experience people distrust process yet implicitly trust the technology in their pocket. That contradiction sets us up for failure and is easy to overcome. If you trust your phone to do its stuff – without understanding the inner workings – then why not trust some simple processes to deliver creative solutions to problems? Do you really need to know the neuro-science behind them? Of course not. And anyone in a position of authority who insists they haven’t time is heading straight for the door marked failure. Simply put, being creative isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity when dealing with complex problems.
There’s no excuse – get creative. The alternative leads to the sorts of turmoil we now encounter. If the problems of addressing valid and conflicting concerns about immigration, living standards and our relationship with the EU had been subject to a creative approach we would be in a far better place. If we looked creatively at the interrelationship between political will and social consequences we might not have unsafe social housing. All these things have a massive impact on people and their lives.
Even at a local level in the workplace decisions are made based on emotion rather than truly getting to grips with the issues. Investing some time in getting to understand those issues better and then being creative in looking for solutions tends to deliver massive benefits. So how are you going to get a handle on your creative toolkit? What steps are you taking right now to correct this deficiency? If the answer is none then you really do have your head in the sand. And if you aren’t an ostrich then start scanning the horizon to see what techniques you can actually use.
How can Executives get creative?
In the forthcoming book 101 Executive Uses for a Square Camel there are lots of simple ideas that don’t require resources you won’t find lying around. Being creative is a natural thing – trusting that you can do it is the step change in mindset. But that’s no different from learning anything – whether that’s how to drive a car or how to text from a phone. A bit of practice and following simple rules works. And at no stage do you have to be able to take the engine to bits and fix it. There’s no excuse – get creative.