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I was an accounting major in college and spent the first 9 years of my career as a practicing CPA in a public accounting firm. Little to no talent in the areas of art, design, or music (outside of just playing by reading music) led me to think of myself as not being creative. As you can imagine, it was not exactly a good thing to be known as a creative accountant. Very soon after I moved into the Firm’s human resources role, a partner whom I had worked with for over 9 years suddenly complimented my creativity because of my organization of a Firm activity. The conversation still sticks in my mind and it literally changed my world. No one in 30 years of my life had ever described me as “creative.”

Soon after that experience I was asked to participate in a week-long training program, SIMPLEX, a creative problem-solving experience. With my newly trained skills on the subject, I felt a new confidence within myself, and it didn’t hurt that I also felt I had truly found my home in the world of human resources! I was bursting with excitement.

This new process taught me 3 key things that I still practice 25 years later.

  1. Creativity is a skill and it can be learned and practiced.
  2. We can use creativity in all aspects of our lives.
  3. The key to problem solving is defining the problem itself, not just jumping to be creative about the solutions.

Dr. Min Basadur, the founder of the SIMPLEX method and author of the book Flight to Creativity, suggests that adults use less than 10% of their creativity on any given day. Why is this? Or why aren’t we more creative?

  1. We are most creative when we are children. Peer pressure, competition, and “rules” keep us from practicing/using our creativity.
  2. We learn fear (or are we teaching fear to others?). Fear of ignorance, failure, of being in charge, of breaking tradition, of making mistakes.
  3. We begin to focus on the short term vs. long term by looking for quick solutions.
  4. Sometimes we make too many assumptions of what will work or not, and that might be because we know “too much” about the topic.

What Can You Do to Be More Creative?

  • Focus on your strengths; this can become a cycle as we can also use our creativity to help us focus on our strengths.
  • Sleep 8 hours per night
  • Exercise in the mornings to get your neurons firing!
  • Read and listen to podcasts – they both help us generate new ideas (Try The JoyPowered Workspace Podcast!)

How Can You Help Others Be More Creative?

  • Don’t shut them down
  • Encourage them to think big
  • Shift your view – think of ideas from the viewpoint of others; your customers, the owners, your suppliers, your family, or your friends

There’s good news and bad news about creative problem solving. The good news is that, of course, we can learn to be more creative by using a defined process; the bad news is that by problem solving we, in effect, create new problems. I like to think of them as new opportunities!!

Purple Ink offers supervisor, manager, and leadership training on many topics, including Creative Problem Solving. Check out our options and let us know how we can help your team and/or organization!

JoDee Curtis
JoDee Curtis
JoDee Curtis is the Founder of Purple Ink and the ink pad, author of JoyPowered®: Intentionally Creating an Inspired Workspace, co-author of The JoyPowered® Family, and co-host of The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast. JoDee has a passion for helping organizations and individuals discover their talents and do more or what they do well!

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