Creating Creativity

Great big blue idea

Extraordinary leaders are, by definition, creative leaders. They see things others don’t see. They find new and better ways to do things. They consistently pull win-wins out of no-win situations. So, how do you improve your creativity and become a better leader?

Last week I picked up some creative gems from Cliff Selbert, co-founder of Selbert Perkins Design Collaborative. He and his firm have created everything from logos to landmarks for organizations like Coca-Cola, LAX, and the Dallas Cowboys. When asked about his creative process, Cliff recommended three things:

1. Learn to juggle. I can vouch for this one – do yourself a favor and pick up this talent. It teaches you to use both sides of your brain almost simultaneously. Jugglers are constantly assessing and adapting to a changing system. They’re also feeling for a rhythm while trusting what they’ve learned. Studies show juggling is a great “brain break,” and works in the same way as “sleeping on” a problem.

2. Don’t dally. The creative process doesn’t have to take a long time. Cliff uses one-minute drills to stoke his team’s creative juices. Everyone gets one minute to individually write down as many ideas as they can. The trick here is cultivating a group that trusts and supports one another and can choose to not judge ideas during the brainstorming phase. The result? His team usually comes up with the initial concepts for their biggest projects in an afternoon.

3. Accentuate the positive. When presenting or evalutating your ideas, ask people to tell you what they like about them. Tell them to keep what they don’t like to themselves. Cliff testifies that whenever they use this approach it pushes the process forward, but when people start with what they don’t like, the process can stall and even moves backwards.

Are you or your organization facing a looming problem? Are you already stalled in the midst of one? Invest some time in real brainstorming – think of the craziest ideas that will actually solve the problem then work back to what’s possible from there. Keep the conversation positive and moving forward. Finally, if you’re brave enough, learn to juggle!*

*Hint: try starting with juggling scarves, they’re easier!

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