August 10, 2016

Whether you call it innovation or simply being a good problem solver, creativity is key for success in today’s rapidly morphing business landscape. Without the capacity to think creatively, leaders hardly manage to keep up and struggle to move their organizations forward. Yet, we find ourselves stuck thinking inside the box, operating in a rut of habits, or navigating days at a pace that doesn’t allow us to stop and think.

Individual Creativity

We are frequently reminded of the basics for brain health: enough sleep and exercise, and the right nutrition, plus the additional science behind techniques like meditation. Now there are fresh ways to flex our brain muscles, geared toward building the neuro-pathways for more creativity.

Many of you are familiar with Lumosity and Brain HQ; many Baby Boomers use sites like these, along with crossword puzzles and Sudoku, to retain mental speed, focus and memory. Now, companies like Blue Ocean Brain have entered the arena. Blue Ocean Brain leverages neuroscience to create learning challenges focused on innovation, creative perspectives and agility, and deliver these daily to a company’s employees’ in-boxes. In the same way an athlete trains for peak performance, these activities train the brain muscles in employees of all ages, in any role, to think fresh, efficiently, and at their highest function.

Collective Creativity

Beyond building individual skills as imaginative thinkers, bright leaders also cultivate a team of people who can innovate together as part of their daily work. Here are three ways to accomplish this:

Collaboration: Break out of the silos such as “operations” or “sales.” Working collaboratively across the organization allows teams to see things from a fresh perspective. This cognitive diversity is imperative to finding new solutions.

Conversation: Have robust, deep conversations about problems, solutions and successes. Open novel dialogue and encourage people to freely debate what’s been laid on the table.

Conscious Effort: Make creativity a core value. Provide training. Recognize and reward creative efforts, particularly those that lead to solutions or growth.

Creativity is not about reinventing the wheel; it’s looking at the wheel with eyes focused on improving design and function. Creativity is uncovering fresh perspectives on problems and identifying new opportunities for solutions. And it is crucial for building velocity, navigating challenges, and remaining relevant in today’s fast moving marketplace.