5 Steps to Unleashing Your Creativity
Creativity has always been vital to every profession and industry, but especially today, as the world changes rapidly. Ian Kitajima of Oceanit offers ideas on how to unlock your creativity.
1. ADD “YES AND …” TO YOUR VOCABULARY.
At the big automakers, the idea of a self-driving car drew a lot of “yes but …” followed by why it’s not safe, feasible, viable or even desirable. Whereas Google is more of a “yes and …” culture and it’s disrupting the auto industry by making self-driving cars happen.
2. CREATE A SAFE PLACE TO SHARE CRAZY IDEAS.
Oceanit’s founder, Patrick Sullivan, is a master at this. We were brainstorming in a meeting about space transport and the ideas were not flowing. Nobody wanted to sound stupid. Then the boss said, “So, how do we create the Star Trek transporter?” We all laughed, but the ideas started to flow..
3. CREATE CHOICES BEFORE MAKING CHOICES.
We often come up with an idea, and then dive deep into how to make it happen. We are busy, so we pick the first good idea, but try to create a few more ideas before deciding. And be ready to let go of your prized idea in light of better choices.
4. USE METAPHORS, ANALOGOUS ENVIRONMENTS AND EXPERIENCES TO HELP SEE THE WORLD DIFFERENTLY.
Why do hospital check-ins feel like hotel check-ins? Why do the rears of cars look like animal faces? Feeling stuck? Watch “Dead Poet’s Society.” Robin Williams gets himself and his students up on their desks. The room doesn’t change, but their view of it does. Change your perspective, and the world opens up.
5. USE SPACE TO CHANGE BEHAVIOR.
Buy or build movable desks, rolling whiteboard and prototyping tables. Open your kitchen, make it a place where people can engage. Buy a 4-by-8-foot shower board ($20) from the hardware store and nail it to a wall for an instant whiteboard. Cut the same shower board and convert any table into a brainstorming session. Space is a powerful way to enable creative behavior. “Make Space” is a great book on this topic.
DON’T JUDGE IDEAS TOO HARSHLY OR QUICKLY.
Your key performance indicators may kill a great idea. For example, at Oceanit, we had the crazy idea of turning ants into sensors. There were a lot of challenges, the biggest was that you can’t control ants, so we didn’t. The potential of the idea won over logic and feasibility, and was later funded by the folks who created the internet and GPS.