As designers we need to have creative and open minds 90% of the time, so it’s inevitable that we will have “mind-blanks” at times! When we do, there are things we can do to help us get back on track… without panicking. The best creative ideas aren’t forced and are often collaborative, which is why having a variety of skills and experience in a team is so enriching.
In his well-respected book, Creativity, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (a Hungarian-American psychologist) says that an effective creative process usually consists of five steps. These are:
- Preparation (Finding problems) – becoming immersed in problems and issues that are interesting and that arouse curiosity. Don’t sit and allow problems to surface. Instead, scan for potential issues, and see this as time well spent. At WonDesigns we are excited by the opportunity to change and improve things and aren’t intimidated by change; we embrace it.
- Incubation (Gathering and reflecting on information) – allowing ideas to turn around in your mind without thinking about them consciously. The more information you have, the more opportunities there are to spark new ideas subconsciously.
- Insight (Problem exploration) – experiencing the moment when the problem makes sense, and you understand the fundamental issue. Being open to all ideas and possibilities can provide a better insight into the task at hand.
- Evaluation (Generating and evaluating ideas) – taking time to make sure that the insight provides sufficient value to outweigh the various costs involved in implementation. Not all of the ideas we have will be practical or possible, so, as part of this step in the creativity process, we need to decide which criteria we’ll use to evaluate our ideas. (Without a solid evaluation process, we’ll be prone to choosing a solution that is perhaps too cautious.)
- Elaboration (Implementation) – creating a plan to implement the solution, and following through. A common misconception is that creative people spend all their time thinking of new and interesting ideas. In fact, truly creative people recognise a good idea and run with it. For this final step, we are committed to taking your ideas and making them happen, and we are confident that we can!
Of course, some people are naturally more creative than others. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t all learn to be more creative, and use creativity enhancing tools and techniques in our daily lives. At its core, creativity is the ability to see familiar things in a new light, and the first step to being more creative is training yourself to look for opportunities to improve the systems and processes around you.