SIMPLY put, creativity is about coming out with something new. Being creative may not make you another Michelangelo, but new ideas are certainly necessary for today's fast changing world.

As Edward de Bono, the world's foremost authority on lateral thinking and innovation, said: "It is no longer enough to be efficient and solve problems. Businesses need creativityto make the shift from administration to true entrepreneurship."

You can also use creativity in your daily life. You can look at what you are doing and find alternative ways to improve. Problems become opportunities for you to use your creative thinking.

Critical versus creative

Our brain's left hemisphere is all about logical, rational and sequential thinking while the right brain hemisphere is concerned with intuitive, random and subjective thinking.

Schools tend to concentrate on boosting the left brain in "scholastic" subjects and right-brain activities such as creativity and aesthetics tend to be downplayed. As a result, many people end up being more critical than creative.

Stimulating the right brain can be done by attempting tasks that require imagination and a fresh approach. The human brain has the ability to create an infinite amount of ideas. Unfortunately, most people use only 2 to 3 per cent of their brain capacity.

As a technique for generating ideas, take a look at a classical method called Scamper, an acronym for a collection of seven techniques. There are success stories for each of these techniques:

Substitute: The Russians failed to market vodka in the United States in the 1930s because clear alcohol was not popular. Heublein bought the rights, and looked for other ingredients (substitute) to colour the drink. Moscow Mule, Screwdriver and Bloody Mary were born and caused vodka sales to rise from 6,000 cases a year to 38 million in 1988.

C�ombine: Customers of American gas company Arco asked if they could walk over to the adjacent convenience store to pick up a hamburger and a quart of milk after they had pumped their gas. As a result, customers can now do all three (combine) all at the same petrol kiosk.

Adapt: William Durant, the founder of General Motors, had great ideas but could not run the company profitably. He was replaced by Alfred Sloan, who was able to take many of Durant's ideas and turn them (adapt) into reality.

Modify: 3M's advertisements to sell Post-It pads did not cause sales to pick up. Its general sales manager, Joe Ramey, noticed that people who used the pads could not stop. He convinced the company to modify its marketing approach by giving away free samples. Since then, the Post-It has become one of 3M's all-time champion products.

Put to other uses: A toilet tissue manufacturer discovered a carload of paper that was too thick to be made into tissue. Unable to return it, he asked himself what else could be done with the paper?" (put to other use), and paper towels were born.

Eliminate: Before 1836, mail charges were paid by the addressee, with the fees computed according to distance and weight. This made correspondence expensive and slow. Rowland Hill proposed that postage be uniform regardless of distance (eliminate), and that this fee be prepaid by buying and affixing a stamp.

Rearrange: Xerox's first copier was priced at $4,000 and few companies were willing to make such a capital investment. Xerox understood this and began selling what they produced: copies. At 5 cents a copy, company staff could pay for the documents from petty cash (rearrange).

Taking up a hobby is a good start to being creative, and magic is one hobby that requires a lot of creative input. Since magic tricks rely on illusions, it takes a lot of creative effort to make something that is not real appear believable.

You will find that the process of conceiving a magical idea and communicating it to the audience through a performance is a creative process.