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Why Some People Are More Creative Than Others

Why Some People Are More Creative Than Others

Would you label yourself a creative person? Do you think creativity is something we are born with? Creativity is more than the simple left versus right brain. It is more than your logical hemisphere compared to your creative hemisphere. Creativity and learning takes place when we are able to connect new knowledge with knowledge we were already familiar with. Creativity is something we can all develop. In fact, it has been scientifically proven that creativity can be cultivated.

Prior to the last couple of years, I used to think creativity was something you were born with. I believed one of the myths of creativity and used it as an excuse. Do you associate with any of these common myths about creativity? Common myths:[1]

  • You are born with it.
  • You have to be right-brained.
  • It falls into your lap.
  • You’ve got to be a little mad.

Everyone has fell victim to at least one of these myths, but anyone can be creative, not just the privileged few. Let’s take a look at how some people embrace this mindset and become more creative than the rest.

They are good at making connections between different ideas.

“Part of creativity is picking the little bubbles that come up to your conscious mind, and picking which one to let grow and which one to give access to more of your mind.” – Nancy Andreasen

Yevgeniy Brikman has an interesting analogy for creativity. He looks at creative thinking as a deck of index cards. He remarks,

“Imagine you have a deck of index cards and that each card has a word or phrase on it. These cards represent the ideas and thoughts that are floating in your head.”[2]

Try the following with index cards, where each card has a word or phrase on it:

  1. Shuffle the index cards.
  2. Drop them on the floor.
  3. Scan over the cards and see what sentences have formed from the random arrangement of words.

Brikman asserts, “Most of the time, the random permutations will be meaningless. You just have to pick up the cards and return to step 1. However, every now and then, a meaningful sentence or thought will emerge. Sometimes this will be a full solution to a problem – the ‘aha’ moment. Other times, this will be a mere stepping stone from which you gather enough info to add or remove index cards from your deck before returning to step 1.”

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They are divergent thinkers.

“We are boxed in by the boundary conditions of our thinking” – Albert Einstein

    Creative thinkers are not linear thinkers. In fact, they are divergent or lateral thinkers. They embrace a different way of thinking and attack problems from new angles. Creative people can literally remove their mind from the box. Typically, most people think that you must remain within the already known boundaries. However, when we move out of the box, we then extend our boundaries beyond the existing framework. This is critically important in cultivating creativity.

    They act on the eureka moment.

    “Seeing something that doesn’t exist and then making it so.” – Hugh Howey

    Have you ever had that unbelievable epiphany or insight that just suddenly occurs in your mind? This is the eureka effect, our experience of suddenly comprehending something that was previously incomprehensible. The effect is named after a story about the ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes. However, we will use a different example of this effect. Sidney Harris has a simple cartoon that visualizes this effect perfectly. In her cartoon, she draws an illustration of Albert Einstein standing before a chalkboard. On the board, Einstein has two different equations crossed out. The title of the cartoon is the “The Creative Moment” and is a fabulous caricature of one of the most important discoveries in history.

    Creative thinkers endlessly search for their creative moment. So, the next time you have a eureka moment, use the following tips to act on it.

    There are four stages of the creative process.

    Let’s now discuss how you can activate your creative mind by following these four stages.[3]

    1. Preparation. So, did you think this would start with an idea? Well, you would be wrong. Here we are gathering facts and existing ideas about our problem. In the first stage, start asking questions in order to start generating ideas.
    2. Incubation. This stage is important. Go for a jog or take a bath (Thank Archimedes for this idea!), but make sure you allow the problem to wander in your mind.
    3. Sudden Insight. Here is your eureka moment! This is where your connections overflow until that fantastic ‘aha’ moment hits.
    4. Manifestation. In this stage you carry out and apply the sudden insight.

    We can cultivate creativity in numerous ways.

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      “Ask questions for which there are no answers.”

      There are certain things we can all do in order to become more creative. Let’s look at some of them.

      • Ask questions. “Successful creators don’t just like knowledge, they thirst for it. They can’t stop asking question, and they always go beyond what they’ve learned from teachers and books.” – Keith Sawyer
      • Practice. When we practice a skill over and over again it will start to become a habit. Write about how to develop a creative mindset, blog about it, and even try to teach other people about it.
      • Use an analogy. When we use analogies, we find similarity between two things. Think of the index card example earlier.
      • Random word. If you have a problem and you need a completely outside-the-box approach to solving it… try this. Go to randomwordgenerator.com and generate a random word. Here the random word serves as a stimulus which will then serve as a bridge between the stimulus and the idea which will help you solve the problem.[4]
      • Leave your comfort zone. “But the essence of creativity is to be surprised, to come up with something you really didn’t know. That’s the nova in innovation. It’s the newness. And if you keep doing the same old thing, you won’t do the new thing. But when you suspend the old thing, the new thing doesn’t always automatically emerge.” – Michael Gelb
      • Read poetry. Metacognition is when we think about what we are thinking about. This revelation recently hit me. The most powerful deep thinking approach is poetry.
      • Mind mapping. This is a great way to take a topic down a rabbit hole. This is where you have your main idea in the center. The main idea branches out to second and third-level branches. This will help you see patterns that others fail to see.

      So, are you now motivated to become a creative thinker? Do you believe you can? Well, you should. On your journey to become a more creative thinker, remember the four stages and don’t forget that you have to let your thoughts incubate for a while. Don’t try to force the ‘aha’ moment. Allow yourself the time to let your mind wander. Once you do this, you will find that you are able to create something out of nothing.

      Reference

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      Dr. Jamie Schwandt

      Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

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      Last Updated on January 6, 2021

      14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

      14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

      Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

      In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

      For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

      For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

      Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

      Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

      Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

      How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

      Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

      1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

      Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

      For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

      2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

      Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

      Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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      Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

      3. Create a System

      Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

      This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

      You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

      Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

      Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

      4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

      We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

      If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

      Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

      Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

      5. Use a Ratings Scale

      Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

      Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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      It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

      6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

      This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

      You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

      You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

      7. Offer Feedback Forms

      Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

      First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

      Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

      You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

      8. Track Cost Effectiveness

      This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

      Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

      Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

      9. Use Self-Evaluations

      Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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      Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

      10. Monitor Time Management

      This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

      Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

        The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

        While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

        11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

        We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

        Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

        For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

        Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

        Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

        From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

        12. Utilize Peer Feedback

        This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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        Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

        Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

        It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

        13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

        When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

        Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

        Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

        14. Use an External Evaluator

        Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

        They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

        While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

        Final Thoughts

        These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

        The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

        The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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        Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

        Reference

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