Organisations everywhere looking to reinvent themselves: implement new profit streams, design new services, manufacture innovative new products or create fresh brand images, need to draw on talented individuals and teams who have the ability to be creative and innovative.
Some new ideas just evolve as a natural extension of an existing product or service. New inventions are often introduced to the market place as a result of solving one of societies many problems or inconveniences. Take the washing machine for example. Few people would entertain the idea of hand washing everything; a broken one is up there on the nightmare list.
For a large proportion of people, being naturally creative is not an easy task, yet we are all expected to contribute to the Good Ideas pot during brain-storming sessions. Scheduled sessions such as this can be a challenge for many people, who might not have a clue on what to say and feel disappointed in their sad lack of contribution and effectiveness.
In order to make a worthwhile contribution, we need to feed our internal inspiration wells and make sure they are brimming with ideas and observations on which to draw. If our inner well is dry then we are ineffective with nothing new to offer. The definition of inspiration translates as:
‘Something that makes the individual want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create: a force or influence that inspires someone’.
So where can we draw our inspiration from. How do we actively replenish the ideas and creative thoughts we have already used up?
Firstly there has to be an appetite and awareness of the importance of and need to be creative. As individuals we must have confidence in ourselves to be able to generate fresh thinking. ‘I am no good at thinking up new ideas, I leave that to someone else’ is often a statement muttered during meetings. Well, that type of response certainly won’t win awards for innovative thinking.
Creative capability is not just the forte of a chosen few. These few steps may provide food for thought:
- Whether in work or during relaxation time, be vigilant and open to what is going on around you. The link between what you see that sparks a good idea is often tenuous, but does it matter? I recall a young manager sitting in a hotel in Dubai waiting for his dinner to be served and noticed a row of high, brightly coloured pillars. He was struck by the vibrancy of the colours, all clashing reds, pinks and oranges. This provided the inspiration for a new company brand and structure to the company brochure, both of which was later launched to high acclaim.
- Just be aware that the well needs topping up and take time to listen to what people are saying. What inspires us is usually marked by a light bulb moment of some kind.
- Do not shut off to anything that might inspire you, whether you are taking from someone else and how they have overcome challenges, or from what they have achieved. You can also draw from nature, religion, art, décor, architecture, politics, animals or sport. It’s personal, a source that inspires you may not inspire another, so explore what works for you
- Give yourself time. We are all over occupied and filling the up well requires time. I am reminded of the famous poem by William Henry Davies:
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this is if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
So, don’t be tempted to think that just because you are standing and staring, you are not achieving. You are! You are achieving a full well of inspiration on which to pull from at a later date. Don’t be tempted to devalue time spent on reflection; draw from what inspires you. Open up and embrace what is happening in the world around you, success isn’t always about responding to emails and racing through the ‘to do’ list.