Creativity, the more you use it the more you get it. It’s an indispensable skill, one that all of us have but stop using as we get older. There is a popular myth and only certain people are curious, for example artists, but it’s not true; everyone is creative in their own way. What is also true? Some people stay creative, in spite of the environment they work in, because they want to; that’s the difference.
Legendary creativity expert, Roger Von Oech has new book; The Creative Contrarian: 20 Wise Fool Strategies to Boost Creativity and Curb Groupthink. Mr. Von Oech is also the author of A Whack on The Side of The Head, Creative Whack Pack, Ball of Whacks and othet popular creativity books.
In The Creative Contrarian Mr. Von Oech lays out 20 strategies that people, and teams, can use to be creative. They are as follows:
- Buck the crowd;
- Flex your risk mucle;
- Laugh at it;
- Seek other right answers;
- Keep playing with it;
- Reverse your perspective;
- Fool around with the constraints;
- Build on an odd idea;
- Look for ambiguity;
- See the obvious;
- Use your forgettery;
- Drop what’s obsolete;
- Kiss a favorite idea goodbye;
- Revisit a discarded idea;
- Find what’s out of whack;
- Stop fooling yourself;
- Exercise humility;
- Imagine the unintended;
- Develop a thick skin;
- Shed an illusion.
5 Strategies to Boost Your Creativity
Let’s look at 5 of these creative strategies that are very useful and applicable:
- Buck the Crowd
- Reverse your perspective
- Fool around with the constraints
- Find what’s out of wack
- Seek other right answers
Buck the crowd
Where all think alike nobody thinks very much. This strategy is about being a contrarian and going against the herd. It isn’t about being rebellious, it’s about being smart; it requires self and situational awareness. Why should you buck the crowd? Because the crowd isn’t smart when everyone agrees with everyone and no one questions anything; and people tend to follow the crowd.
You should question more when you find yourself in the majority. Herd behavior is as common as the sun coming out everyday, so we’ll find ourselves in the majority.
Usually, you blaze a new trail when you buck the crowd; this is another reason why most people won’t buck the crowd.
Reverse your perspective
Our brains like efficiency, it’s the reason we follow default options and set routines. It works wonders for us on a day to day basis because we don’t have to spend a whole lot of time thinking about every single thing that we do, but it blinds us precisely because we follow one way; we have to deliberately challenge this to be creative.
This strategy is about inversion, considering the opposite of what you’re thinking; it is very powerful. Great thinkers, icons, and innovators think forward and backward. Occasionally, they drive their brain in reverse. An easy way to do this is by inverting the questions you ask, such as “what foods should I eat to be more healthy?” to “what foods am I eating that are making me unhealthy?”
Reversing your perspective is a very powerful thinking tool, you’ll be a very creative thinker when you use it.
Fool around with the constraints
Every innovation we use was born from a set of constraints.Whether that’s money, time, demographics, the innovator started from a set of constraints that enabled him / her to solve a problem. Once that original innovation iterates more, those constraints may no longer hold true and we come to a point where it’s time to challenge those constraints; thus the innovation process starts over again.
This strategy is about playing with the rules, constraints, of a challenge. Whether that’s challenging existing rules or assumptions, or adding constraints to it. Constraints can be a very powerful creative stimulant because they force us to think beyond conventional wisdom to find answers you might not otherwise have found. Many innovations are born within a set of constraints, and constraints work wonders even in large organizations that have resources to spare.
Find out what’s out of whack
I tend eat very healthy. I don’t necessarily obsess over calories, carbs and fats in everything I eat but I do pay attention to the label of processed foods. Most foods that sell you low fat rarely are, it’s just that most people don’t read the label or don’t know how to interpret it.
To me, these are products that promise you one thing and deliver something else.
This strategy is about identifying daily life incongruities and contradictions such as these. Incongruities and contradictions hold opportunity for innovation because you identify things that just don’t add up, thus you can create something that does.
Seek other right answers
There are many entrepreneurs that failed because they only focused on one approach and idea to a challenge. They were so in love with their idea that they never considered alternative approaches. This strategy is about seeking alternative answers or approaches, not just one, to a challenge.
It might seem obvious that you should seek many ideas, not just one, to solve a challenge; it’s not common. The reason? Because our brain likes efficiency, and thus you have to force to think beyond your first idea. Creativity is a divergent activity (many ideas) before you converge on an idea. Whether it’s you brainstorming on your own, or with a group, you have to force your brain to think of alternative approaches.
Also, don’t just rely on your perspective. Seek other people’s perspective; people who don’t think like you.
The Creative Contrarian is a book you can come back to again and again for inspiration when you need to shake up your thinking. You’ll get very powerful creative strategies in a short read, it has great stories that describe each creative strategy; I highly recommend it!