By the time we get into adulthood most people believe they are not creative. And for at least the last couple decades, the research is that being more creative does not happen on command or with incentives. People have creative potential whether they realize it or not. In the countless creativity and innovation workshops I've done over the years, it is always a delight to see people surprised by their own unleashed creativity. Here are 3 ways to surprise people with their own creative capacity.
1. Liberate their editors
People mute and limit their creativity by over-editing ideas instead of growing them. We now know that quantity of ideas literally leads to quality of ideas, even when we don't over-edit them. The questions we ask make a big difference in this. We help people produce more unedited ideas by asking them for ideas that represent the impossible, the wow and the crazy and ridiculous.
2. Build in breaks
Ideas need incubation space to grow. Getting people outside the building or outside their experience with anything helps new connections and inspirations percolate. Any kind of break works. The best engage as many senses as possible. It might involve watching hilarious videos online, snacking on favorite savory foods, listening to new music. Then bring people back to growing the quantity and diversity of ideas.
3. Encourage prototyping
Many best ideas come from action rather than discussion. Foster the small scale quick experiments of new ideas we call prototypes. Prototype success is measured by the amount of learning gained, not by specific expected results. Encourage at least a few iterations of small experiments to spark and refine ideas.
Fostering creativity is an art that we can develop and practice. These are just a few approaches of countless possibilities.