An Essential Skill: Ideation and Creative Thinking

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Albert Einstein once said, ‘Creativity is intelligence having fun’ but we often hear leaders say, ‘I’m not creative’ or ‘we don’t have the time to be creative’. Ideation and Creative Thinking is a learnable skill, and an essential skill for leaders to possess, during these uncertain times.

We recently held a small interactive workshop with HR professionals from central government focussing on stimulating our personal and collective creativity, in a safe environment. Liaquat Lal, Partner in our Leadership and Talent Consultancy, demonstrated the structure and physiology of the human brain and helped attendees identify how to apply new concepts, tools and techniques to creative thinking. The tools and techniques used encourage divergent and iterative ways of thinking to address live, real-world business challenges in a resourceful and inventive way.         

Why is ideation and creative thinking important?      

One of the challenges for leading in times of volatility, uncertainly, complexity and ambiguity is to be able to think and create effective organisational strategy to respond to environments yet to exist. We are living in a world which is going through exponential growth, much faster than it ever has before, with digitalisation changing our work environments and tools, and a new breed of entrepreneurs are disrupting once traditionally stable industries. And they are armed with creative thinking and innovative ideas. Many sectors and organisations are moving away from an algorithmic way of working, to a more heuristic approach. We must ensure that we adapt to meet the needs of a new era, and are able to think differently in order to create new and innovative solutions.    

Creating creative environments      

Creativity is very simply the unexpected connection between unrelated concepts, and to be good at this you need to have diverse and broad experiences and sources of insight. It isn’t something that you can learn over night; ideation and creative thinking is learned, and it needs to be practiced.     

As leaders it is important to recognise how critical the environment is to creative thinking. During the Renaissance, when the Florentine bankers, churchmen, and heads of great guilds decided to make the city intimidatingly beautiful, they did not just throw money at Artesans and wait to see what happened. They became intensely involved in the process; encouraging, evaluating, and selecting the works they wanted to see completed. Artists were pushed to perform beyond their previous limits because the citizens and common people were so seriously invested and concerned with the outcome of their work. In this period the world saw the talents of Dante, Giotto, Bocaccio, Pertrach, Donatello, Alberti, De Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo.

Within the workplace it is important for leaders to create the neurology of creative thinking which includes;   

  • Providing employees with the right combination of work challenge and capability required     
  • Ensuring we are operating in growth mode and not survival mode    
  • Providing time for our brain waves to shift from beta to alpha.

If you and your team are stuck with a problem and need some support to develop your ability to see things from a different perspective, please get in touch with Liaquat Lal to find out more about Ideation and Creative Thinking: liaquat.lal@gatenbysanderson.com