What are employers looking for? It’s one of the universe’s greatest mysteries and there isn’t one size-fits-all answer. Sometimes it can feel like they’re looking for their very own superhero.
But, one of the most sought after traits that employers look for is creativity – the ability to think outside of the box, look at situations from fresh perspectives and add that extra special element.
And it’s not just creative industries that benefit from creative thinking, it is STEM sectors, education, marketing, pretty much any industry you can think of. Creative thinking transcends borders, industries and is an incredibly valuable, transferable skill.
It’s arguable not really a ‘skill’ either, it’s an ethos and set of values that you can approach any scenario with; whether you’re launching your own brand or starting a new project at work. Flexibility, initiative, collaboration and resilience all require creative thinking.
Adobe CEO, Shantanu Narayen agrees – “global research we conducted showed that 8 in 10 people feel that unlocking creativity is critical to economic growth and nearly two-thirds of respondents feel creativity is valuable to society.”
It’s tough to be creative and ‘inspired’ all the time though – like anything in life, there’s ups and downs.
So, how can you develop your creative brain and unleash your inner creative spark, which in turn could futureproof your career?
We’ve touched on this before but mind mapping is a highly efficient way to organize your ideas and think about problems in different ways. The mapping possibilities are endless and you can use tools to approach all sorts of scenarios and problems.
Free-flowing thinking and making connections between ideas are just some of the ways that mapping can help you to see the big picture and break down ideas.
You can use a mind map as a reference tool, a solo brainstorming tool or a collaborative one. Work on your annual forecast revenue or even plan the office Christmas party.
There are loads of tools you can use to facilitate your creative thinking and invite others to get on board. Coogle, MindMapple and NovaMind are just a few apps you can use, or you could buckle down with old-fashioned pen and paper.
Sometimes all it takes to unleash a new idea is a quick chat with a colleague or friend. Face-to-face conversations are always better, but not always appropriate if you’re hopping across to your colleague in the office next door for the 355th time that day.
Cue, the messaging apps. There are loads of communication tools you can use to quickly share files, links, images and chat, so you can exchange ideas and come up with new ones.
Slack is probably one of the most well-known, sophisticated and popular channels. It has seamless usability and great design. It allows fast-paced, rapid fire interaction and is basically a work-friendly WhatsApp.
Running your ideas past other people and the actual process of explaining your ideas to people are really useful exercises. Being able to externalise an idea properly and explain it in a user-friendly way to someone can help you to perfect your offering.
Being creative is all about being able to take constructive criticism on board and adapt your ideas accordingly. Creativity is a process and your ideas don’t always arrive fully-formed, so test them out and use colleagues and friends as sounding boards with messaging apps.
Carrying on with the theme of constructive criticism, sharing your work is an important part of being creative. Hiding ideas and shying away from having to be up front about what you’ve created means that you can miss out on valuable feedback.
You can use so many tech tools to share your work these days. Whether it’s Instagram, Twitter or SlideShare and Dribbble - you can put your ideas in front of people that might not be your colleagues or friends, but are like-minded people or individuals in an industry you’re targeting.
Sharing experiences and stories is what makes us human and it’s a part of the creative process that can be the most useful – learning from others. When developing new product and campaigns, it’s essential to get into the mind of the user and design features with them in mind.
It’s unwise to design products and campaigns that are full of your own biases and perspectives. Use data and feedback to learn as much about your audiences and what your fellow professionals think about your ideas too. Good creativity is as much about problem solving as it is about innovation.
The more you test your ideas, the stronger they’ll be.
Using tech to help unlock creative processes and mind-sets can help to give you strong bargaining power in a globalized economy that’s prioritizing creativity behaviors. If you can combine your existing skillset with creative thinking and tools - you’ll strengthen your ideas and help to futureproof your career.
Harness the tools and tech out there to adopt new perspectives, share your ideas and test out new concepts.
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