Boosting Your Creativity

boosting your creativityThere are loads of different ways you can consider boosting your creativity – from small changes you can implement in your daily life to exercises that can help you develop your creative mindset.

Here are 5 very simple things that you can do to start off:

1. Change your workspace. There are many small changes you can implement in your office and daily life, to encourage creativity. Did you know that 60 % of the creative people operate in 2 or 3 different workspaces? Occasionally changing your environment allows your mind to see ideas from a different perspective and even formulate new solutions. Try to change your office workspace, or, if that’s not an option – maybe try working from a local coffee shop, library or even your home office just for a day.

2. Get inspiration from external stimuli. A simple way of encouraging inspiration and creativity is filling your office with various visual stimuli, especially if they aren’t related to your industry – interesting furniture, plants, paintings, photographs, different magazines.

3. Wellbeing and creativity. Our health and wellbeing can significantly influence our creativity. The healthier we feel, the more creative we tend to be. Consider standing desks, sleep-in policies, a corporate gym membership, fruit deliveries, add indoor plants or organise walk-meetings. According to studies, compared to sitting, walking while brainstorming can demonstrate a 60 % increase in the creative output. So, next time you need to come up with new ideas, consider taking a brief walk around the neighbourhood.

4. An office that supports creativity. Many hours are spent in our workplace, so naturally, it has a significant impact on our creative thinking. Even the layout of your office can contribute to everyday creativity. If you can arrange the office in a way that constantly makes people run into each other, it will encourage more interactions and conversations. The more people interact with each other, the bigger the chance for new, creative discoveries. Try and engineer those coffee machine and watercooler moments.

You can also set up different workspaces that support creative thinking: quiet rooms, chill out zones, rooms for large teams, or one on-one-discussions. Of course, not everyone can afford a major revamp of office space – you can start with simply moving the fruit bowl or a coffee maker to a new location or rename the meeting rooms to encourage a different type of thinking.

5. Let ideas brew. Interestingly, researchers discovered that allowing your ideas to “brew” for a while or go through an “incubation period” is important when it comes to our creative success. Even taking a break and stepping away from your project for just 20 minutes can significantly enhance your performance.

No wonder it is said that the best ideas come to us while in a shower. It so happens that the relaxing setting and absolute isolation of a warm shower makes an excellent incubator for new ideas. In fact, any other activities that make us feel good and relaxed, like exercising, taking a walk or cooking,  increase our dopamine flow, and fuel our subconscious “idea generation machine”.

Innovation – Rockin’ Chairs

wheelchair innovationI recently had the good fortune to bump into Mark and Jon Owen at a business event in Cardiff and was immediately intrigued by both their product, and the way in which they had developed it and got it to the market. Those with design heads will of course marvel about ergonomics, design and manufacturing but what about the human side, what about (dare I say it) Innovation? I’m sure that Jon and Mark did not really see themselves as innovators but they are doing something different and making headway, so what happened?

Mark had been a wheelchair user for over a decade and had been going with the flow. Wheelchairs were an engineering solution to a medical condition. Did that have to be the case? Had being confined to a wheel chair caused a major personality shift, changed his interests or priorities in life? No, but it had placed him in an entirely new bracket within society. He was now classed as disabled. One thing that struck Mark and Jon was the ugliness of mobility products. Just as we feel close to our iPhone or other gadget, so Mark had a gadget that was with him all of the time which was transport, sofa and office chair – so why couldn’t it be cool too?

Nomad was born! Why hadn’t this been done before, why did nobody see this opportunity? Was it market, was it international conglomerates or blinkered stakeholders (you decide)? With an emphasis on design and with access to a unique perspective on the marketplace a unique wheelchair was born. Made of lightweight aluminium, engineered to provide day long comfort and requiring less effort it sure does look cool, even people who are not disabled will want to have a go! You can even propel yourself with one hand!

So how did they get here and more importantly how did Mark and Jon start out? A discussion whilst on holiday convinced them that this was possible. Time out to think is always important, without it the results could have been a badly engineered product in a garden shed!

Inspiration was drawn from a variety of sources, not just pinching ideas but values and lifestyle cues as well. So take a look at a Nomad chair and you may very well see hints from cars, bikes and fashion. All good stuff but knowing what you want is great, how do you actually get there? Usually this means engaging outside help to acquire the skills that you yourself do not possess. It also means that you also have more people to bounce ideas off and gain inspiration from. In this case, local designers were the key.

Was it all plain sailing? Jon says that prototyping was a little tricky as others do not always wish to push the boundaries, but they can be convinced if the vision is strong enough and the message is compelling. How many people say to you “that will never work”? Being brothers of a similar age, Mark and Jon often disagree but seem to have a fairly comprehensive support system that includes both each other and parents so (creative) tension is channelled into Nomad and is seen as a positive factor. Do readers of this article actually think about their own environment, support mechanisms and close advisors?

Mark and Jon seem to have created an effective ‘mash’ of traditional and innovative with their approaches to design, planning, risk assessment, company culture and having fun. They have balanced risk and planning, creativity and control but above all they have an in depth understanding of their environment (both internal and external) and are revelling in the challenges and opportunities that they are discovering. By coincidence, these are also the main drivers to ensure that a business has a (high) capacity to innovate. The future looks bright for Nomad.