Insights into Unlocking Your Creative Potential

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Has creativity got you hitting a brick wall? Well it turns out that making simple changes in the way you think and act can unlock creative potential and develop unique solutions to old problems at work.  

1. "Sleep on it” - the unconscious is powerful when we want to come up with a novel solution to old problems. The old adage of ‘sleep on it’ is very real and has been well researched (Dijksterhuis, A & Nordgren, L 2006).  We know that the unconscious mind can process vast amounts of information whereas the conscious mind can only process up to seven or eight bits of information (Imber, A 2009). This is the reason why utilising the unconscious mind to be creative is useful.  While ‘sleeping on it’ is ideal, it might not be practical. Another technique is to ask the question of what you want solved and then distract yourself with another activity. The question you have asked gets directed to your unconscious mind and starts working out the solution.  All of a sudden you might experience that “Eureka” moment when you least expect it!

2. Label yourself”- if you think it, you believe it – according to creativity research. Merely labelling yourself as creative or a non-creative can influence your level of creativity output. People usually live up to their expectations; for example, researchers found those who considered themselves creative sought out more creativity opportunities and therefore spent more time being creative and coming up with creative solutions. So…. When researchers randomly labelled people into categories those that who were labelled creative were coming up with creative solutions. This means you need to let go of self-judgement about your creativity and believe that you are a creative person.


3. “Independent thinking – researchers have found that working as a group to be innovative actually hinders creative thinking!! What has worked is a process where individuals alternate between group and independent idea generation, for example working independently, working as a group, working independently, and then as a group again. This ensures individuals don’t get swayed by other people’s opinions, everyone feels as though they have exhausted their list of ideas, and when it comes to bringing the ideas together people feel more confident. So perhaps try spending some time on your own before engaging in group discussion. (See the video below in resources for a further explanation on this topic and why brainstorming as a group alone is not always the most productive.)

4. “Colour me bad- did you know the colour orange, red, yellow are the colours of creativity? Research shows that warm colours promote divergent thinking – the necessary process for coming up with great ideas – so start wearing warm colours or paint a section of a wall in a scarlet hue!


5. “Quirky works- a diverse, eclectic work environment stimulates creativity. We often think that to be creative, we need to look like the tech environments with the sleek designer tables and white chairs. Far from it – the more diverse, crazy and zany the work station or environment, the better it is for creativity.  So fill up the space with superman figurines, random objects and posters! (McCoy, J.M.  & Evans, G.W. 2002).

Messy Office Desk with Ideas and Vision

Steve Jobs quoted as saying “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something that seemed obvious to them after a while.”

Remember, we all have the capability to create and innovate – it’s about creating the environment to foster this!


Check out our workshop in April on Fostering Ideas: Creativity and Innovation in the Workplace 


- Kelly Maniatis, Managing Director


Additional resource links:

“Brainswarming: Because Brainstorming Doesn't Work” –Harvard Business Review