You cannot teach a man anything. You can only help him discover it within himself.” – Galileo Galilei

1. Write down a Challenge statement. The key here is to really focus your statement to the specific problem or challenge you have. The more clear your statement the easier it becomes to crush it creatively.

2. Dump everything you think about down on a paper. Why? So you can have a clear mind to focus on your problem.

3. Stomp the breaks! Are you on autopilot? Just active? Crazy Busy? If this is true, learn to break your own habits. When we are on autopilot it is very hard to be creative, creativity often happens from a shock, a sudden change or something strange slipping in our consciousness. We need to look for the counterintuitive and not be on autopilot and think we are not creative.

4. Get excited; drink 10 cups of coffee, well maybe not that much. Psychologists have proven that our emotional states decide how we think and what we think. If you are excited you will have different ideas from when you are bored, sad, or depressed. I think most people, intuitively, know this to be true.

5. Change the Perception, change the reality, if you perceive yourself to be creative than you will be. If you perceive yourself to not be creative then you won’t be creative. You decide!

6. Follow change, many creative ideas happen when we follow, react, see or observe change. Most times change comes to us we don’t really follow it, its uncomfortable. If you want to be more creative look for change, change in markets, change in demographics, change in perceptions and change in knowledge.

7. Play with illogical fears: bugs, insects, clowns, the dark and other illogical fears are awesome opportunities for you to test fear. How is this related to creativity? Well, fear is what is stopping your creativity to flow.

8. Find your strength.

9. Fail often and fail fast. This kills your fear of failure and creativity is fluid and flexible, so as long as you are afraid of failure the fluidity and flexibility can’t kick in.

10. Keep several notebooks so you can capture your ideas and thoughts, have notebooks for different categories and different themes.

11. Set an idea quota, I got this from Michael Michalko ThinkerToys; an idea quota is an amount of ideas in a specific time. Like 25 ideas in one week.

12. Have an idea room or an idea box, something or somewhere to put weird stuff, toys, old stuff, broke stuff etc. You can go to this room when you want to get inspired or bombarded with strange ideas.

13. RELAX, this is essential. The amount of rest you have defines how productive and creative you are. Find the best way you personally relax and realize that the better you relax the more energized you are to go back to a challenge.

14. Incubate

15. Manipulate stuff when you are totally out of ideas. Modify, kick it around, push, shove, magnify, stretch, reverse, eliminate, add, adapt, rearrange, combine. This is also from Michael Michalko, its called SCAMPER, Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Magnify, Rearrange. These are all techniques that can be used to generate new ideas, take you existing idea or problem and try to scamper it.

16. Substitute: What can be substituted? Who else? What else? Can the rules be changed? Ingredients? Material? Process?

17. Combine: What ideas can be combined? Can we combine purposes? How about an blend? Combine units? package a combination?

18. Adapt: What else is like this? What other idea does this suggest? Does the past offer a parallel? Can I change the context?

19. Magnify: What can be made larger? extended? Overstated? Exaggerated? Greater frequency? Extra Value? Extreme?

20. Put to other uses: What else can this be used for? Other uses if modified? What else could be made from this? other markets?

21: Eliminate: What if this were smaller? less? omit? divide? split? different parts? understate? delete? what’s not necessary?

22. Rearrange: What other arrangement might be better? Interchange components? Other pattern? Change pace? order?

23. Ideas are in a state of constant flux! There is no ultimate idea, no ultimate song, no ultimate film, not ultimate theory of everything (well they are at least trying,. My point is you can take any idea and play with it, it is never finished, fundamentalism will not take us far creatively.

24. After our little SCAMPER exercise we should mind map  Mind Mapping is a great way to get some connections between our ideas and get further fluidity. It also gives a great overview of what we have in our head. Its like an creative brain dump.

25. When we have played around enough with our ideas, problems and challenges we can change the context, change the perception.

26. As said above switch angle, change the perspective when a problem doesn’t make sense. It might be how you look at it, that is the real problem.

27. Teach, yes teaching is creative; I am not talking about regurgitating stuff you just memorized to a passive listener. I am talking about discussing a subject with people who have passion for it. When this gets momentum new ideas can develop, but remember all the people involved must want to dive in to dissecting the subject. Don’t defend, dive!

28. Force connections between two totally different subjects.

29. Reverse it.

30. Add fun, play or anything that you like to your daily routines. Your work doesn’t have to be boring, especially the stuff that you automatically already know how to do. You can try to break your automatic patterns this way.

31. Get a skill that is as close to the opposite of your current skill. If you are an amazing painter, learn math, try to get good at some aspect of it and then try incorporating it in your painting. This obviously takes time but it will be worth it.

32. Go through an intense idea generation experience.

33. Listen to music you have never given a chance before, maybe its a different culture, or different generation. Why? Several reasons, you will break your patterns, you will get a different perspective, and you might even like it. Psychologists have found that Music at 60 beats per minute can maximize retention when learning.

34. Destroy your creative barriers!

35. Unexpected failure! Yes, Peter Drucker often talked about this paradigm. You create something for a specific purpose but it gets used in a different way by the user. Or the perception is not matching, the user wants something totally different from what you have created. This “failure” can show you what might be demanded or needed instead. Your so called “failure” have created a void which is up for grabs for anyone looking.

36. Have a Vision. Having a vision that you take responsibility for and are committed to achieve will make you automatically creative. Why? Because your brain will start to think about and look for possibilities. Many people talk about the importance of having a vision, but the real importance or the determinant is in your commitment to the vision. Because if you really are committed then your creativity, your fluidity and flexibility of thought will happen, it must happen. You have decided!

37. Experience moving, colorful, dynamic things. Go for an adventure in nature, scuba dive, mountain climb, or visit a cool experience like cirque de soleil. Why? Because Your eyes register 36 000 visual impressions per hour, the retina accounts for 40% of all nerves connected to your brain. Color and movement boosts creativity!

38. Try to learn and understand Strategy, read Sun Tzu. Why? because understanding strategy will make you understand how you should think when trying to achieve a goal. Its not really the specific strategy that is important, rather it’s the concept of strategy that is important to understand. Creativity is similar to strategy, but not deterministic as a written plan, it’s more fluid and flexible.

39. Learn to Draw, and draw concepts in visual metaphors. Any time you learn something new, a concept, an abstraction, an idea, a system, etc. try to draw a symbol for it. This connects the verbal memory with the visual and the connection strengthens your understanding and memory of what you have learned. Drawing your own symbol or metaphor for something you have learned is creative. Think of it as strengthening your creative muscle.

40. Turn it in to a game. Turn problems in to games, make it a challenge between you and your friends. Use time to your advantage, the lesser time available the more spontaneous the actions. This combination of challenge and time/deadline will make you act in very strange adaptable ways, this obviously only works if you want to win. So play with your competitive friends that you really like to beat. This is not only fun but also very strategic, trying to win is strategy, but instead of planning you are being spontaneous.

41. Learn to Juggle! Start with some scarves, since these flow back slowly.

42. Tricking perception with optical illusions. This is one of my favorite things, the fact that we don’t see reality is fascinating to me. We frame reality, we make mental pictures, so the things we look at often gets categorized automatically. Our preconceived ideas of reality makes us see reality as old. To test this look around on the net for optical illusions, they are a great reminder for your creative approaches to problems. Our first instinct isn’t to look at things differently, or to look for the counter-intuitive, we actually perceive with conformity. Look at these two, do you see that the context of the orbs changes the size in our perception? In reality their size is exactly the same!

43. Describe problems and challenges in stories, describe them in metaphors and remind people with analogies. Changing your challenge statement, or problem definition in to stories and trying to fit it in to peoples perception without adding any new concepts, is creative. The attempt on your part forces you to really understand the problem, and 99% of what you do should be observing and trying to understand the problem. The action or implementation should then be obvious, it should be simple.

44. Destroy assumptions! If you have played around with the optical illusions, then you will realize that our assumptions are often very wrong. Assumptions can sometimes, maybe most times, mislead and misguide us, our assumptions makes us look elsewhere when in fact the real problem might be the assumption which is starring us in the face. So when you come up with new ideas to a problem, don’t stop. If your ideas is great then an even greater idea might be next, our assumption here is to stop, but you should really push for more fluidity and flexibility, you really don’t know what amazing idea might be next, don’t stop yourself, don’t assume.

45. Imagine how the problem sees the world. If you put the problem in a different context you will definitely change the way you think about it. A Great way to do this is to imagine that you’re actually the problem.

46. Test, test and test, this is very similar to fail fast and fail often. The testing I am talking about is not the same testing as they are dong to students in school, the student is getting tested on what he/she has memorized. Don’t get me wrong, we have to accumulate knowledge to understand what it is we are dealing with, but accumulating facts and knowledge is not the creative part. We have to dare to put things to the test, not assume or approve blindly. After testing we can speculate what the results are saying and test even further, the second test is on our crazy speculations. Our crazy speculations might be genius ideas, we don’t know until we test. So if you find that something is strange, stupid, counter-productive or wasteful but people around you find it to be great and the right way, don’t fear, test, test the hell out of things. Be a heretic as Seth Godin says, kill the sacred cows.

47. Thoreau once said: “The world is but a canvas to the imagination.” When you look around you, you are actually looking at your own perception of the world. So when somebody is having a brilliant insight, like Einstein’s Theory of relativity, the insight is actually in our perception, it has nothing to do with the so called real world. Einstein changed our perception of the world, he didn’t change the world, the world is the same as it always has been. This is something obvious, but I think we take this for granted, especially when we think about creativity. When you are trying to be creative You are actually dealing with perception. Change your perception and change everybody’s reality.

48. Want a three step formula for creativity?

1: Imagine what your really want or the challenge your are trying to solve, make the image vivid and real. Your experience must be so real so feelings develop in your body. Make it a total experience so you cant forget it.

2: After creating a strong memory of what you want you will have an powerful desire to achieve whatever it is. This Will that created the experience is now following the memory, the vision.

3: The last step is creating your vision. Make it real.

49. Mike Tyson once said: Everyone Has a Plan Until They Get Punched in the Face! This is not only funny its also true, strategy is fine but realize that no strategy will take you where you want to be if you fear breaking away from the established patterns, the rules, the socials norms, what is believed to be right. The irony is that most strategies are copied, we want certain success. If you want to be creative you need to stop looking for success formulas, they don’t work and they inhibit your creativity. Let go of the demand to be certain, the absolute plan doesn’t exist.

50. Face boredom! This is one I have been playing around with and I must say it is pretty cool how the mind gets creative when the possibility of boredom is there. It seems that we want to run away from boredom, we are constantly trying to fill it with different things. Next time you get bored, STOP, don’t run away to the TV, your email or your Playstation. I am still baffled and amazed at how my imagination kicks in when I don’t feed the boredom. It is very weird, try it!

51. Look inside the problem: In the middle of difficulties lies opportunities.

“I never teach my pupils; I only provide conditions in which they can learn.” —Albert Einstein

ABOUT Michael Michalko

About Michael Michalko

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