Archive: Creativity in All Careers — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

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A few weeks ago, I interviewed creativity consultant Jo Ann Braheny for the Career Opportunities podcast. This interview started me thinking about how important it is to integrate creativity into your career, regardless of the type of work you do. You can no longer divide jobs into “creative” and “functional”. Much like my belief that every career has become a high-tech career (See, every career can and should also be a creative career. If you embrace this fact, you can take your career to an entirely new level.

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The fact is, work has always been creative. It is just now that companies and individuals are recognizing how important creativity can be across the entire company and not just in the traditional “creative” departments. You only have to take note of all the innovation programs springing up at most large companies, new books like Innovation: The 5 Disciplines and podcasts like Phil McKinney’s Killer Innovations. We see now that creativity, at all levels, can directly effect the bottom line. Without creative new approaches to all aspects of business, companies risk sliding into irrelevancy. Competition is relentless and if workers aren’t thinking and applying all their new thoughts, they might find themselves out of a job.

One interesting artifact of this new creativity discussion is the changing terminology. Almost as if they are trying to avoid the “softer” nature of the word creativity, innovation has become the accepted term within most corporations. I think that this shows a small reluctance and a general fear of creativity even among those who are trying to embrace it. Often subtle cues like this can reveal a company’s true relationship with creativity and innovation.

There are many ways you, personally, can begin to embrace creativity in your own work, even without a corporate innovation program. The first step is to simply think about creativity more each day. Too often, we find our most creative thoughts buried beneath our daily workload. You need to develop methods of thinking creatively and then capturing those thoughts immediately.

My favorite method of collecting my ideas is a rather old-fashioned one, a paper journal. I take this book with me wherever I go and make a point of jotting down even the simplest thoughts that occur to me. In fact, this is exactly how I collect ideas for Career Opportunities, constantly building a ready supply of topics that might have been lost otherwise.

Of course, you will collect ideas about your own work and interests. Maybe you came up with a way to reduce the number of forms required for a loan application or a new programming algorithm. How about a new story you want to write or maybe even an entirely new business you could start?

It is important that you don’t judge these ideas, but rather just get them down in your journal, PDA, computer or notepad. At the first flash of an idea, you can never tell how it might be useful to you in the future. In fact, I find that in some perverse natural law, the ideas we often find silliest when first noted can be exactly the ideas that are most useful in the future. Just get the ideas down, you can figure out how to use them later.

Next, when confronting particularly difficult problems, set aside a few moments to simply think about the problem and note any thoughts that come to mind. Don’t just dive into the problem. If you do, you might end up on the wrong track when a better answer was at your fingertips. You might not come up with the perfect solution to the problem this time, but your notes and thoughts may trigger new responses in the future. If you do happen to hit on a great new idea, your notes will be the first stage in documenting that idea so can you build on it and share it with others.
Build your own, personal, innovation program today. You don’t have to wait on your company or anyone else to get started. Check out some of the great materials, books and podcasts on innovation and take the first step in building your career through creativity.


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