As you can see from the title of this week’s post, I didn’t apply my creative side to come up with a jazzy title. I don’t know if that is because I’m a non-creative person or just lazy. I have been torn between the Australian Open (a nice alternative to baseball, T-minus 59 days until opening day), episodes of American Idol (bad singing makes great television) and Teen Mom (don’t knock it until you watch it). I did knock around the idea of calling it The Creative: Part Deux, The Creative: The Sequel or The Creative: Episode II – Attack of the Dorks (plural to include Paul, otherwise it seemed a little sad calling myself a dork).
Last week in the comments section of the Creative: Part 1 friend of IBD, Amy Ford (also known as Ranger Amy), blew my mind with large words like thermodynamics. That was the first time that word had been used on IBD and for the record no other fourteen-letter words have ever been used on IBD. The only word with that kind of letter count was the word parliamentarian in the post No Paper Airplanes. I have to agree with her comment that appealed to my left-brained creative side. I tend to work best in collaborative efforts with people who are right-brained creatives that bring the best out of my logical approach. I see myself better at transforming than creating.
When faced with transforming, problem solving or creating, I try to start by exercising the right side of my brain by brainstorming. Most of us have taken part in a brainstorming session at some point in our lives. This generating of ideas, good or bad, without any judgment can begin the processes of opening your right brain. Brainstorming leads to free thinking. If you are too busy thinking that one idea is too expensive, will never be approved, or is over the top, you miss the opportunity to create an idea that may work.
Brainstorming often works best in a location outside of your norm or comfort zone. If you work in an office all day, behind the same old desk, staring at the computer, it is hard to break your normal thought processes. Find a “happy place,” so to speak, where you cannot be distracted by your normal day-to-day operations, but a place where you can freely think and generate ideas. It does work. My happy place happens to be working in my office, behind the same old desk, staring at the computer. This doesn’t put my wife in her happy place.
The next thing you can do is daydream. Let your mind go places that are separate from reality. Despite what you have been told your entire life, daydreaming is good for your creative side and to exercise the right side of your brain. Some of the most creative in the history of the world were classic daydreamers, including famous film makers, composers, artists and mathematicians. One approach to creating ideas in daydreaming is by role playing. No costumes are needed. In your mind play the role of someone that may have an interesting approach to the problem you are trying to solve and think about how they would approach it. You can use well-known designers, artists, actors, directors or anyone you deem appropriate to problem solve. I often find myself daydreaming about what various Star Wars characters would do to solve problems.
The Darth Vader approach to problem solving is valid. I tend to get the best ideas while daydreaming when driving. Unless your happy place involves the police and a citation (which could be part of the role-playing approach), take caution before employing this approach. Find the best place for you to daydream. It will lead to ideas.
After you collect ideas, good and bad ones, then you can allow the left brain to come back into play by helping edit the ideas. Just don’t let this process sneak into the brainstorming session, it will ruin it. Kenneth H. Gordon, Jr. said “To be creative, relax and let your mind go to work, otherwise the result is either a copy of something you did before or reads like an army manual.” You must exercise the right side.
Becoming creative or using your creative muscles is a process. Research has proven through the years that regardless of the individual approach to creativity that a formula is evident in each approach that is a means to an end. Everyone’s creative approach begins with some form of research that leads to idea development which leads to choosing an appropriate idea then improving on that idea and finally seeing it through to completion. When you are going through this process don’t forget to allow time for diagnosing, strategizing, incubating and nurturing elements of the process.
Leaders and managers should foster creativity in interpretive efforts and allow those developing programs, tours, publications, websites and brochures to develop their own personal creative process. Every year at NAI‘s National Workshop you can see a creativity explosion. Ideas are generated, regardless of physical location, by the supportive interpretive community mindset found during the workshop. Managers should support attendance at these types of training events for their creative force and by simply allowing daydreaming at work. Leaders should also be aware not to crush the inexperienced creator. Just because you have been there and done that, doesn‘t mean that those under you wouldn’t gain from that experience themselves or have an approach that you didn’t attempt. Don’t forget what Anna Freud (the sixth and last child of Sigmund and Martha Freud and groundbreaking Psychologist in her own right) said, “Creative minds always have been known to survive any kind of bad training.”
Since I am currently in my happy place, I should return to reality. I really have no other place to go before my wife employs the Darth Vader approach to problem solving and chokes me with the Force from across the room.