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How to Enhance Creativity

1 September, 2010

On the Newsweek website a couple of weeks back, an article was put up about how to actually increase creativity.  A lot of people have tried to increase creativity – and a lot of people have had some really bad ideas about how to increase creativity (which is kinda ironic) – as much as half of the commonly available techniques are derided by Oklahoma professor Michael Mumford.  However, some scientific experiments have given us some clues on how this might be best achieved.

A summary:

  • Saying “Be Creative” is a waste of time.  Be specific in your tasks: say, for example, ‘what would no one else do?’.
  • Exercise.  Not just good for your body: when fit people have aerobic exercise for 30 minutes, cognition (including creativity) improves for two hours.  Sadly, for the unfit, fatigue outweighs the benefits.
  • Multitasking is bad; but, when it comes to creativity, working on a number of projects at once (sequentially) can be beneficial (as is done by university professors).
  • Stop watching television.  Really.  Every hour drops 11% of a child’s creativity.
  • Explore other cultures.  This helps you see things from another point of view.
  • Focus.  Those who focus on their passion are more centred, with better discipline and willingness to struggle against adversity, than those who try everything to be ‘well-rounded’.
  • Don’t have a suggestion box.  It implies that suggestions get lost in red-tape.  Just implementing suggestions gets better results (e.g. Toyota).
  • Group Brainstorming, as it is often practised, is a waste of time.  Yale in 1958 found that it was more efficient to get each individual to brainstorm separately (more and better ideas) than to have bad facilitators for a brainstorming session.  However, that said, there is great merit to group brainstorming when done properly.

Hopefully, these can give you a headstart in enhancing creativity amongst any you may have in your charge.  Not convinced?  Check out the full article, Forget Brainstorming.

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