Creativity is an elusive thing. Just when you need it most, it might decide to play hide and seek. But there is a way to invite Creativity back. Hint: the invitation must have FUN written all over it!
"Good morning Team!
I'm sure you are all aware of the crisis we are facing with one of our most valuable customers. They are just furious over there, and for a good reason! They are facing major interruption to their service, and anyway, you'd turn it, this is our fault. We must solve this problem and gain back their trust in our product. Otherwise, we are going to loose so much money and risk the future of this company.
I know this feature is not trivial and problems like that, let alone their fix, can take days if not weeks to investigate. Well, tough luck! We haven't got this luxury. We need a solution NOW. Stare at your monitors until your vision is blurred. I don't care what it takes - just fix this damn problem. Until then, it's 200% work! Nothing else!
Let's fix this problem! Be creative. Think outside of the box. Our future depends on it!
One last thing: I would like a progress report on this every hour. And you'd better have some progress to report!"
OK then. Let's be creative… I'm going to permanently damage my vision by staring at a glaring monitor until I have a creative idea…
Creativity is an elusive thing. Just when you need it most, it might decide to play hide and seek. Only you can't afford to play right now. "Your future depends on it." You have a deadline, and you are being watched. Time's ticking, and you can't afford to make any mistake. So, after knowing all the theory and all going through all these workshops, where is this creativity now when everything is at stake?!
Creativity can't flourish under stress. Creativity does not respond well to threats. And Creativity does not like being afraid of making mistakes. Remember that creativity in its most basic form is imprinted in all of us. It comes naturally to kids. Can you imagine kids playing creatively under stress, deadlines, and fear from making mistakes? All these concepts are not part of their world. And that's exactly why Creativity visits their world so often.
Here's our challenge: when we need creativity most, we have to learn to let go - we can't push it. Nothing can be less trivial because sometimes the urgency is real (not always, though). But trivial or not, you have to face the facts: if you need Creativity to pay you a visit (or even better, to stay in permanently), you need to come up with an authentic and attractive invitation. And it must have FUN written all over it!
This is not going to be easy. It requires a leap of faith, but if you don't try it, you will never know. So here's the thing: Instead of merely deciding to be creative, leave everything and start playing!
Is your team in the middle of a crisis? Send them to play. Are you staring at your monitor? Go and have some fun with a good game. There's no better way to ignite creativity. You simply can't force anyone (not even yourself) to be creative.
Now, playing is always better than stress. But some games are better at igniting creativity than others. What you should probably look for is an open-ended non-competitive game. A game that invites the players to imagine and create - to open their minds, as opposed to games aimed at seeking a specific solution or outcome, or zero-sum games.
Games that ignite creativity can be played alone or in a group. They will not only open your mind but also reduce stress and (God forbid) make you smile. Whatever the problem you are facing, your starting point will be significantly better after playing a good creative game.
Few Steps Back
It is important to emphasize that by playing I don't mean merely gamifying the problem you are facing. This method might help, but as a starting point, you'd benefit more from taking a few steps back. Play a game totally unrelated to the problem you seek to solve. That's the key to reducing stress and letting your mind wander to new and surprising directions.
Changing context is by itself a good way to open your mind. When you add it to a playful experience, the benefit is even greater.
Now comes the most challenging part: none of this will work if you are not 100% honest about it. If you are going out for a play in the middle of the crisis without a 100% intention to have fun, you might be wasting your time. If you can't stop thinking about the problem you need to solve, you are not freeing your mind. If your mind is still in a run-for-your-life mode, you simply won't be able to be creative.
You don't have any other option but to intentionally and honestly let it go. Not for a week, and maybe not even for a day. But if you say you are going to have fun for an hour or two, you'd better mean it!
Creativity often flourishes under constraints and limitations. Even adding constraints artificially can spark creativity. But constraints and limitations should not be confused with stress and threats.
When you need to be creative, you should open your mind and relax. And there's no better way to achieve that than having fun. If you really want to ignite creativity, there is a specific kind of fun which works best: playing an open-ended, non-competitive game. A game that is challenging, but not discouraging. A game that pushes the magic button that activates imagination and creativity. A game that will make you smile.
Lidor’s visual artworks, which are focused on the things hundreds and thousands of people pass by in the street every day, led him to create seempli to inspire people to practice creative observation on a daily basis.
Using seempli Lidor works with people, teams, and organizations seeking to develop and enhance their creativity.