Les Jones throws the spotlight on creativity and encourages practices to believe in their potential to find creative ways to solve problems.
People talk about left-brain and right-brain thinking, and traditionally the left brain is associated with logical, linear-type thinking and mathematical thinking. It works from small details up towards the bigger picture. Then we have the right-brain thinking, which is more about creativity, dreaming, artistic expression, and tends to work from the big picture back down towards the small detail. There’s no better or worse place to be and we all need all of those things at times.
How do we define creativity? A number of years ago, an American company wanted to set up a creative think tank. The problem was they didn’t fundamentally understand what it was that made people creative. So, they commissioned some research to find out what is it that makes people creative. Although they expected a raft of different elements in terms of what makes people creative, or not creative, they found that the one overriding thing that was the difference between creative people and so-called not creative people was that creative people believe they are creative. That’s it!
Quite a number of people I’ve come across in my career say they are not creative and believe that creativity and being artistic are the same. For me, even though I work in art and design, creativity has very little to do with artistic talent. Yes, they sometimes cross, but I don’t think it’s a question of if you’re artistic, then you’re creative. Artistic people can be great draughts people, or they can create things well, but they’re not always ideas or ‘coming up with different ways of doing things’ people.
Therefore, wherever you think you are on the spectrum of creative or not creative, allow yourself to be more creative, take those risks, and to use the passion that you’ve got for something to say, ‘How can we do things in a different way?’.
Being more creative
Research has shown that at kindergarten age (yes, it’s American research) about 98% of children show extreme creative tendencies. By the time they get to 16, that’s down to just 12% because we all start to learn in the same way, and we do things the same way. If you step outside this box, you’re told you need to come back in and conform, but there’s no reason why you can’t be creative. So, everyone has the latent capacity to be more creative.
Now, what happens when you have a problem to solve in the practice, or in everyday life? Naturally most people will find a solution, come up with an answer, and take that answer and implement it. But what if we asked ourselves:
Are there any other answers?
What are the alternatives?
What else could we do?
How else could we come up with things?
In this case, rather than generating one idea and settling with it, you’ve created 10 ideas; 10 different ways of doing things and can look at these to see which is best.
Taking this a step further, you can incorporate creativity into the culture of your practice. Usually, when people are trying to solve problems and find efficiencies, their starting point is ‘What have we got and what do we currently do? And what’s the best we can do with it?’. Most businesses set their goals for the following year based on what they did last year and add a bit to it.
Creativity works the other way around. It says, ‘Right, instead of what have we got, and what’s the best we can do with it?’ you should flip it on its head and say, ‘What do we want and how do we make it happen?’. That way, you’re not just looking at what you’ve already been doing and seeing how you can tweak it, you’re opening things up and widening your vision.
You won’t just do that on your own. Being creative is about involving all the team. If you said, ‘How do we do this and what are the benefits to the whole team of doing it?’ you will stimulate loads of ideas. Because I guarantee, all the answers are in the minds of your team at the practice, but because you’re not tapping into that, and you’re not stimulating that with the need for ideas, people just go about their day-to-day business, and they don’t think about it.
If you tap into the collective creativity of your team, you’ll be surprised at how many brilliant ideas you can produce.
If you’ve found this interesting and would like to read or view more from Les, why not visit the R&L hub?
Practice Plan members can access the Resource & Learning Hub with their Online Services account details via hub.practiceplan.co.uk
If you’re a member of Practice Plan but not set up on Online Services, please call 01691 684165.