I was reading an article from the World Economic Forum at the tail end of last year about the skills our children will need for their jobs in the future and bemoaning the lack of preparation they are currently getting via traditional schooling, which is geared for what they used to need. In fact looking at the graphic they displayed, reproduced below, even the difference in a few years is quite marked.

What particularly struck me in the list is the rapid ascent of Creativity as a requirement for our work. You might not be planning a career at Radisson RED establishments but almost anywhere the need to be creative is likely to increase as we change the way we work, the kinds of jobs we do and the new products or services we devise.

I have been interested in the concept for years, probably since first meeting James and Carolyn from Tinderbox Consulting at a Rotary Youth Leaders Award course in Cambridgeshire.

Coming back to the idea today has raised two questions in my head for you to consider:

  • How are you creative?
  • How are you improving your creativity?

How Are You Creative?

Firstly, ‘how are you creative?’ is such a better question than the standard ‘how creative are you?’ option. Ever since I encountered Kirton’s Adaption Innovation Inventory I have endeavoured to challenge people to think about their creativity style, not their level. Are you someone who adapts things and makes incremental changes to something to create a new concept or do you think more outside of the box and come up with innovative things from scratch? Both strands require us to exercise our creative brains but have you thought which mode you tend to engage more often?

How Are You Improving Your Creativity?

Once you answered that question then my second challenge is to ask you what you are going to do about it. As we sit at the start of the year being prompted from all sides to think about what newness we will introduce into our lives for 2018, it’s a good time to consider what creativity ‘training’ you might add in.

As part of working on my own creativity, I enrolled a few years ago in a nightclass on improvisation. It was much harder work than I expected but really enjoyable and pushed me in a new direction. It improved my story telling but particularly prompted me to think in new directions and engage in new flights of fancy. Nowadays, I sometimes find myself amusing myself by giving completely fictitious answers, especially to spurious or daft questions thrown at me. Yes, it’s lying, but my justification is that the spontaneity required keeps my brain working in new ways.

Another option that I sometimes use with groups who want to push themselves is the Props game that I originally saw on Whose Line Is It Anyway. Contestants have to come up with new ways of using a given prop (watch this clip on YouTube for examples) and it’s really easy to recreate just using the things you have lying around.

I particularly liked the idea in the WEC report about lifelong play – I suspect they were talking in the sense of the lifespan of a child but, as an advocate of adult learning through games and play, I would say it is good for us all. When is the last time you relaxed and allowed yourself to play any kind of game?

I came across a book late last year that has 52 ideas for you or your team to work through weekly. ‘It’s All About The Idea’ by Tom Tuke-Hastings looks like it will have some good prompts that I can put into practice, as well as downloadable sheets to support the tasks.

Finally, a book I have referenced and recommended a lot over the years is ‘101 Creative Problem Solving Techniques’ by James Higgins. It provides lots of ways to generate ideas that aren’t a simple brainstorm.

If you want to read more of my thoughts on the subject then there is an article on Creativity over on the ezinearticles.com site that I wrote a few years ago.