Six Ways to Boost Creativity

Last Updated Jun 8, 2009 8:07 AM EDT

  • The Find: One of the world's leading design agencies offers six tips to get you thinking more creatively and help unstick you when you feel fresh out of new ideas.
  • The Source: It's not a usual source of management insight, but these tips come from O, Oprah Winfrey's magazine.
The Takeaway: The innovations of design firm IDEO are legendary and include the first laptop computer and the Apple mouse, and just to give you a sense of the breadth of their work, the Bank of America "keep the change" program. But just how do the company's bright minds come up with such ground-breaking ideas? O magazine offers these six creativity boosting ideas from IDEO's general manager Tom Kelley:
  1. Forget Making a List: Lists often come from the organized, analytical left side of your brain, and to solve an intractable problem, you want to engage the right, the creative side. Make a mind map instead.
  2. Hire a Coach: A coach can bring out talents that you haven't fully developed -- or ones that you might not even admit to yourself that you have.
  3. Keep a Journal, But Not Just Any Journal: Ask yourself "When during the day did I feel bored; when did I feel engaged?" When you start paying attention to when you're at your best (it can take a while to find a pattern), the results can open up unexpected new territory.
  4. Blow Open Your Curiosity: Focus on what you love, but don't limit yourself to only things that you love. Subscribe to new magazines, download podcasts on a topic that has nothing to do with your current life.... If you've been banging your head against an obstacle, this kind of cross-pollination can get you over it.
  5. Let No Idea Escape: ideas are precious and fragile and tend to show up when we're in the shower, in bed, or stuck in traffic. So we forget them. Try to capture 100 percent of your ideas--on your BlackBerry, in a notebook, on the back of receipts or boarding passes. Go for quantity. Defer judgment until later.
  6. Find a Reverse Mentor: the world is changing at such a rapid rate that most people over 40 and certainly 50 find it impossible to stay on top of developments... A reverse mentor--someone younger and more plugged in--can get you up to speed on new trends, pop culture, starting a social network account, or more substantial things.
For a more in-depth explanation of each tip, check out the fun-to-read article.

(Image of a man with an idea by mil8, CC 2.0)

  • Jessica Stillman On Twitter»

    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.