Creativity is about converting new, imaginative and exciting ideas into practical reality. Combining the creative power of thought with the power of production, innovation is the implementation of that idea.
If you use your imagination and have an idea, but take no action, there are no usable outcomes. Innovation is the combination of imagination and creativity to create usable outcomes.
If you want to be consistently innovative, follow these 10 tips:
1. Identify the issue
Clarifying the problem gets you halfway to solving that problem. Question, challenge and, above all, write down all aspects of the challenge before you start the innovation process.
To be in the best mind to deal with issues, it is important to be relaxed, focused and attentive. A clear physical and mental space enable you to get into the best frame of mind to be creative.
Creativity can come forcefully from within, so allow yourself to be in the right place to experience that creativity. Remember that people relax in different ways, so focus on what is right for you.
3. Be willing to change yourself first
Mahatma Gandhi said: “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him... We need not wait to see what others do.”
As Gandhi says, you must sometimes change yourself for the rest of the world to change. You must pay close attention to what you want to create. Set a clear intention to produce the results that you wish for.
4. Ask great questions
Questions focus your thinking and help to call up ideas, information or facts that are relevant to the task at hand. Achieving great outcomes always starts with great questions.
Remember good questions can be used and reused, so if you hear a compelling question, keep it and use it again and again. Collect questions to challenge, enquire and evaluate.
5. Fertilise your brain
Fill your mind with ideas, pictures and concepts. You can find these in so many places — books, stories, films, comic strips, music, magazines and on the Internet.
The more ideas, images and words you consume, the greater the chance that you will creatively deal with a challenge. Be curious, get interested and delve deep — it will serve you later when you can make connections between places, people and things that are not usually connected.
6. Experiment and explore
Thomas Edison was renowned for experimenting. Failure was never a problem for him. Rather, it was the signal to try another pathway. He literally filled thousands of pages of paper with notes, drawings and musings.
The pathway to innovation is to experiment with different ways, explore new pathways and never be stymied by failure.
7. Find out if anyone else has faced this challenge
There is not that much that is new in the world and then there is at the same time. There may well be someone else in your organisation, team or community who has been faced with the same or similar challenge. Seek them out and find out what they did, then take their idea and make it better.
8. Replenish your creative stock
Just as farmers rotate crops in the field to give the soil time to replenish, it is important that you give your brain a chance to tackle different issues or challenges. Songwriters often change from writing to playing music to some other creative pursuit to give their brain a chance to rest and come back at a later time with a fresh perspective.
9. Unleash your creativity
You cannot turn on your creativity and innovation like you can a light switch. However, there are some things you can do to crank it up.
Ask yourself what can absorb your attention to the extent that you lose track of time? How can you recreate this atmosphere when you are faced with a creative challenge at work? Creativity takes many forms and differs for business, art or science.
10. Generate lots of ideas
The best way to generate one good idea is to generate lots of ideas first. The more ideas you generate, the more creative and innovative you become.
What seemed like a fun contribution at the time can suddenly have a realistic slant to it and could well be the winning innovation of the whole process.