Seth1492 /Foter

Have you ever been told, “Wow, you’re creative!” To many of us, creativity seems natural but to others it’s a foreign characteristic out of reach.

The Wall Street Journal article on October 17, 2011 “Innovation 101” states that confidence is the key to innovation and creativity rather than being exceptionally gifted. According to David Kelly, founder of design firm, IDEO, we need to push through the atrophy of our creativity bone. Whether through peer pressure or the education system that creates consensus rather than individuality, it’s important to retain our creative confidence.  On their website, IDEO shares that what they do is “identify new ways to serve and support people by uncovering latent needs, behaviors and desires.” At Ideo they use a methodology called “designed thinking” that has also been adopted at Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, better known as d.school.

At the d.school, students are challenged through a specific experience. They are asked to solve a problem, empathize, gain understanding of an identified issue and in doing so they ignite “ideation”— the phase of brainstorming and visualizing potential solutions that leads to “prototyping”.  I’m intrigued by this concept of a curriculum that generates creativity and constructive problem solving.

You can join me in exploring your creativity by participating in OpenIDEO which is an open innovation platform to solve big challenges for social good. There’s a great video on how you can brainstorm ideas and solutions while collaborating with a network of others. An ideate platform.

The interviews of almost 100 creative executives have been included in the new book, “The Innovator’s DNA” authored by Jeff Dyer, a business-school professor at Brigham Young University, Hal Gregersen, a leadership professor at the business school INSEAD, and Clayton M. Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor.
Dyer, Gregerson and Christensen concluded that you need to “act different in order to think different,” and this takes practice.  In her WSJ article, Carolyn Geer summarizes the five skills of innovators as:
  1. Associating: Making connections across seemingly unrelated fields, problems or ideas
  2. Questioning: Frequently challenging the status quo to learn how things are, why they are that way, and how they might be changed
  3. Observing: Carefully watching the world around you to gain insights and ideas for new ways of doing things
  4. Networking: Actively searching for new ideas by talking to people who can offer radically different viewpoints
  5. Experimenting: Exploring the work experientially, especially by trying new things, taking things apart and building models

You can see an entertaining and informative interview of Hal Gregersen discussing “The Innovator’s DNA

As I write this blog I can’t help but think of Steve Jobs.  The Rolling Stone’s article “The Steve Jobs Nobody Knew” reflects upon the variety of twists and turns his life took with its multitude of failures and successes.  To me it appears that he truly mastered these five skills of innovation.  His eccentricities created opportunities to associate and question, he traveled and observed the world, an eclectic group of friends provided many varying views that spurred creativity which was exhibited in his poetry and technical genius and true to anyone growing up in the 70’s he “experimented”.  Steve was a master at dissecting and dissembling things only to re-write and re-build — traits of an innovator.

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Donna ChabrierAbout the Author: Donna Chabrier is an experienced marketing strategist using customer viewpoints to drive innovative approaches that resonate and generate sales results. She is the founder of Outside In, a virtual marketing agency providing an alternative to high priced ad agencies by pooling the best talent to address each client’s business challenge including brand development, lead generation, website design (including SEO and SEM), media relations, collateral development, go-to-marketing planning, social media set-up/maintenance and channel programs. Prior to Outside In, Donna started Reactor Marketing, a top-25 Silicon Valley advertising agency working with Fortune 500 technology companies such as Sun Microsystems, Brocade Communications, Veritas Software and Nextel.