A process for creativity – blog post 2 of 3

get creativeThis is the second of three blog posts on the CREATE process which has been developed to optimise the creativity of both individuals and teams. I use it when I am working alone and want to maximise my creative capacity. I also use it when working with teams of people or with individual clients. Let me again explain the acronym:

C Cosmos
R Roster
E Enhance
A Assurance
T The Funny Side
E Emancipated

The last post reviewed C and R, let’s move to E and A.

E is for Enhance. So often our creativity is limited by our discomfort at not having the solution to a problem, by our desire to make a choice or to take a decision. This part of the process is about patience, belief in the process of creativity and giving time, more time, and even more time, if necessary, to enhance the emerging ideas.

more timeIt is about giving ideas the time to flourish and the opportunity to be considered without a rush to judgement. The ‘gold standard’ here is to be able to access the child-like wonder and sense of exploration where there are no limitations, no fears and no limits on how much we can dream and create. I recall hearing John Cleese speak about the creative process used by the Monty Python team, and he emphasised this need to give time, more time, and even more time to ideas that weren’t quite working; eventually the really creative (and hilarious in the case of Monty Python) idea emerges.

This ability to really enhance is a learnable skill if you create the right conditions in which to build up your practice time, whether practicing on your own or with other people in a team setting. The right conditions include the physical environment, the right state of mind and a way of being with you, and with others if applicable, that is conducive to creativity. The first two are factors you will most likely understand already; the third is less immediately obvious.

Before I explain, let’s consider the modes we adopt in our work and in our lives that are relevant to creativity. We humans operate in two different modes. The first is the closed mode, which is the one we operate in most of the time at work. In this mode we are very purposeful, with a sense that there is much to be done, and that we need to get on with it. It is a very active, perhaps even anxious, mode. In this mode creativity is very difficult, if not impossible to access. We get lots done, we are very decisive, and action is the focus of our being. Quite often it is seen as a very efficient way of operating – one that is purposeful, productive and proficient.

Contrast this with the open mode. This is the creative mode. It is often seen as the antithesis of efficiency, the enemy of progress and the domain of the feckless. It may be portrayed as ‘lying around’, ‘shooting the breeze’ or ‘daydreaming’. While this open, creative mode may be seen in this way by the action junkies who thrive in the closed mode, it is the open mode that is necessary for creativity to exist, flourish and enhance your Big Dreams. But the open mode in itself is not enough.

children-playing-with-blocksSo what more is needed to create ‘the way of being’ that is conducive to increased creativity in the open mode? Firstly, you should give yourself and others permission to be creative, to be imaginative, and even to be silly. Secondly, there should be no limits here, no restrictions brought about by conventional wisdom, and no strictures. Any statements of criticism or disapproval will snuff out the candle-flame of creativity. Finally, a feeling of fun, a dose of child-like naivety and playfulness and a good sense of humour (which will be needed when you get to T, so start now) all enable you to really enhance the ideas.

This moves us nicely into A is for Assurance. An assurance is a promise. The promise is that no idea will be regarded as irrelevant, unworthy or stupid. This promise attacks the very heart of the biggest potential block to innovation – the fear of making a mistake. It’s important to enable complete confidence that whatever evolves is okay, to create the child-like delight with the playfulness of experimentation and to remember that you cannot be spontaneous within reason. The promise helps people to really harness the innovation that lies in the art of ‘What if?’

If you’re working individually, it is a promise you must make, and keep, to and for yourself. In group working, it is helpful to have a non-judgemental environment where everyone knows they will have an equal opportunity to contribute. In the first case of individual working having a skilled coach can be very efficacious. In the latter situation it is often useful to have a skilled facilitator helping you to create, maintain and enhance the assurance that is so important to your collective success.

creativity without limitsI wish you good fortune using the CREATE framework. Have curiosity, have courage and have fun!