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 http://welchwrite.com/dewelch/ce/2006/co060217.asp),
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.
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
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
In fact, this is exactly how I collect ideas for Career Opportunities,
constantly building a ready supply of topics that might have been
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
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
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
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
first step in building your career through creativity.
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