Based in Sydney, Australia, Foundry is a blog by Rebecca Thao. Her posts explore modern architecture through photos and quotes by influential architects, engineers, and artists.

How To Be Creative... Really.

So here is what we know for sure: creativity and innovation are truly critical to success today. We know for a fact that CEO's will tell you in overwhelming majority that the one quality they really look for is creativity. You can find the research in this article here detailing an IBM study on the subject. Creative disruption, innovative thinking, catching the trends, breaking the status quo, and all the other cliche and over used business jargon really are what we need. So we've got that down. The next question, naturally, is how do we get it? Where does it come from? Or possibly the questions is, where do we find it?

There are a ton of resources coming out these days on this very subject. Personally, I love to follow the work of a few different creative experts. I enjoy the work of Todd Henry, Scott Belsky, Scott BerkunBlaine Hogan, and others. I've read all kinds of resources from Harvard Business Review Articles to complete books on creative hacks like "Cracking Creativity". I've watched Ted Talks, attended conferences, and taken in all kinds of content through the lens of learning creativity and innovation. With all of this though, I've had a nagging challenge to consider. A question along the lines of, "is this really making me more creative"? The humbling answer is no, not really.

This really isn't a new concept to many of us I would guess. Knowledge is useless without action. We actually learn creativity and innovation by the act of creating, like exercising a muscle in a way. Of course the pushback I get here is that I make it sound too easy. Wouldn't everyone just do that if that's all it took? The response to that criticism is two fold. First, when the rubber meets the road, I think people fear failure too much to try creating things. Second, I'm not talking about creating massive projects or innovating entire industries all the time. I think there is significant value in creating in other mediums that you might not typically work in or simply creating on a small scale. For example, developing creativity in your financial institution might look like offering art and dance classes to your employees. Or what might happen if you offered a creative writing workshop to your team? Sound crazy? Maybe it is, but it will definitely get them creating and I have to believe that there is value in the practice of creativity and innovation no matter what the outlet.

Leaders lead. Runners run. Creatives create.

An important note here, I'm not downplaying the idea of studying the craft. There is so much to learn about generating ideas and how our minds work, let alone all there is to learn about implementing innovative concepts and executing great ideas. Learning is important but it's only part of the equation. I see this culture developing where we become fascinated with talking about creativity, reading about innovation, and discussing its implementation but we forget about actually doing something with it. We all stand around looking at creativity like it's some kind of voodoo magic. We may discuss it at nausea, but consumer data still tells us that about 90% of US business are failing to exceed customer expectations. On the other side, nearly half of employees would currently say they don't enjoy their job. There is a major breakdown here. We've got a bunch of companies that no one wants to work for and no one wants to buy from... that sounds like a landscape ripe for innovation to me.

On a very practical level, I think we really need to take a close look at our organizations and ask ourselves if we are giving people opportunities to create. Are we really encouraging people to try new things, branch out, take risks, and challenge themselves? We can talk about creativity all day long because we know it's important, but what we really need to know is how to get it. I think the answer is quite simple: start creating.

"Skill to do comes of doing." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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