• Andrew Pek

Five Habits for Effective Creativity

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Scouting is the backbone of our creative anatomy, say Andrew Pek and Jeannine McGlade in Stimulated! Habits to spark your creative genius at work (www.kkbooks.com). The authors explain that scouting contains the essential orientation and energy we need to find, observe, and use to interact with stimulus and initiate the creative cycle we each possess.

In the list of five habits elaborately discussed in the book, scouting comes first. Cultivating, playing, venturing, and harvesting are the other four. Every human being has the potential to cultivate and demonstrate these habits and in so doing, will unleash his creative genius, the authors assure.

The authors add that while we constantly interact with our environment, our creative genius lingers in the background, waiting to be activated to produce creative expressions (style) and impressions (impact). “For example, when a musician plays music, how he performs that music (tempo, tone, melody, style, and selection) is his expression, while the music he produces is the impression (the feeling and emotion) he leaves with others.”

Imbizo stimuli

The chapter on scouting for spark moments is aptly titled Eyes wide open. It opens with the Imbizo tale from Dave Raath, the head of innovation and product development for Johnson and Johnson's South Africa and Middle East division. Imbizo is the Zulu expression for ‘gathering,' often used in political assemblies as a way of solving problems and discussing issues, one learns.

On how imbizo helps in creativity, Raath narrates that the weekly group gatherings — in which everyone, from the shopkeeper to the members of the senior team is invited to speak freely about creative business challenges and new ideas someone may have in growing customers and growing the business — have no ground rules other than to take in stimuli.

Saori weaving

The next habit, viz. cultivating, requires you to identify the spaces and places that work for you the most. Let it be the right space that balances your need for concentration versus your need for high energy, the authors instruct. “If your creative task requires you to meditate, then a place that is still and quiet may be perfect. If, on the other hand, you need to encourage people to play, having a noisier and funkier space may be the right environment.” Urging you to weave creative conditions in what you do, the authors draw inspiration from Saori, an art of Japanese weaving by hand. “The sa in Saori is the first syllable of sai, a Japanese word meaning ‘everything has its own individual expression and art form.' And the ori means ‘weaving and improvisation from the heart, with no preconceived idea.'”

Feel at ease

The third habit, playing, represents a childlike state that helps us to feel at ease in ‘experimenting' with stimulus and maintaining a perpetual state of curiosity in pursuit of creative insight and spark moments, the authors describe. They remind that while the results of applying your creativity to generate a big idea can be very serious, the process you use does not need to be. “You can still get results if you inject play into the process to spark creative ideas and action.”

“When we are in play mode, we entertain and express ourselves,” observe Pek and McGlade. “We bring energy into the room and create ripe conditions where literally anything is possible and anything might happen. Spontaneity and serendipity are abundant when we are in a playful state of mind — it begins in our thoughts and follows through in our feelings and, consequently, our actions.”

Scary territory

The ‘venturing' habit can be scary, because it calls for the leap into the unknown territory, but it is through venturing that we develop nerve and decide to either pursue a spark of inspiration or not.

Though the outcomes may at first be uncertain and dangerous, if we make the leap and relinquish our control for clarity and certainty and trust our instincts, we give ourselves a fighting chance to clear a path, rejoice in the experience of awakening our creative genius.

Complete the cycle

The fifth and final habit is about real results, through ‘harvesting,' defined as the consequence of scouting, cultivating, playing, and venturing. This is an important stage because many people have great spark moments, but seldom do they act upon them.