Common wisdom tells us we can undo bad habits, but shaping positive attributes feels more like something you’re either born with or not. Take procrastination for example. We all feel that it must be possible to improve our time management skills, but can you get better at something as abstract as creativity?
To talk about creativity in a entrepreneurial setting, you have to look no farther than Stockholm-based Hoa’s Tool Shop, where a team of psychologists and hackers create tools to track and impact behavioral change.
We spoke with Hoa’s Niklas Laninge, who recognized the benefits of receiving daily feedback from psychologists, and put together Creativoly, a 30 day newsletter “course” with reminders, tips, and quotes about becoming more creative in your life. Laninge has also been lecturing and speaking for Psykologifabriken about creativity for three years, so one night he wrote down 30 tips about creativity and started accepting emails.
As Laninge points out, “As soon as you start studying creativity, your realize some myths. Creativity is nothing aside from behavior.” By putting together this course, he can hopefully get people to start thinking about using psychology in their every day life.
The newsletter is free, and interesting to get every morning, but here are three tips Laninge says we all can use to become more creative:
Step Out Of Your Fixed Associations
“Its a classic one, but we know that people have very fixed associations,” says Laninge. So to foster your creativity, entrepreneurs should consider getting out of the same old circles to meet people with a different way of viewing the world. For example, going out for a business lunch with a librarian or IRS agent can get you out of the same old mindset, and get you thinking in new ways.
“It’s so easy, and often its a lot of fun, and you’re forced to speak about your business and the things that you want to accomplish in new terms. You can’t use buzzwords because people don’t know what you mean.”
By doing so, you’re forced to use different analogies, which can open up new lines of thought. You have to eat lunch every day, so you might as well eat it with someone new.
Study Your Creative Colleagues
Laninge says that one of the fun things about being in a working environment full of psychologists at Hoa’s Tool Shop and Psykologifabriken is that you don’t describe one of your colleagues as “sales driven”. Rather than that, you consider the behaviors they are exhibiting.
So if you have a creative employee or partner, study what they are doing to be creative so you can repeat it in yourself. For example, are they brainstorming a lot? Are they framing problems in a different setting? Once you start gathering these behaviors, you can re-create them in yourself in little experiments to see how they impact you.
Some behaviors might come quicker than others, but again, it’s important to remember that creativity is nothing aside from behavior.
The seemingly obvious method to foster creative solutions is to sit in a group and bounce ideas off each other. But Laninge says the literature is quite clear that when we try to solve problems in a group, we’re not as creative as when we’re coming up with ideas by ourselves.
The problem is self-censorship. If you’re sitting in front of you workmates (or worse – a customer), you’re unlikely to throw out the crazy ideas that just might work.
What’s best for finding the most unique solutions is for everyone to run off individually, come up with their own ideas, and then share them with the group.
colorful symmetric painting image by Shutterstock.