Linda Gorchels blogs

Creativity and Innovation

Curiosity amplifies your creativity

(This is the 2nd of a 9-part series on creativity traits.)

Curious: passionate for fresh knowledge; desiring to learn new things
Resilient: capable of overcoming setbacks; able to take risks; ambitious
Evaluative: willing to experiment and evolve your creativity beyond the idea stage
Autonomous: independent; norm-doubting
Tuned in: open and alert to the world around you; highly perceptive
Introspective: driven by innate (intrinsic) rewards; self-accepting
Visionary: having dreams and aspirations; original thinking
Energetic: adept at managing and recharging your energy Creative curiosity

Be forever curious

We are surrounded by new ideas. In various stages of formation. All the time.

But we might not be curious enough to even notice them. Don’t lose your sense of curiosity.… Read the rest

Eco-Dumb Innovation

Articles about the importance of innovation to the growth—or even survival—of a company saturate the internet. I even stress its importance in my monthly posts on the topic. However, not all innovation is socially or environmentally compatible. Short-term financial gain may cause long-term environmental pain. Can we do it better? Can we think in terms of Eco-Smart Innovation?

Social Ecosystem

Let’s start with the social ecosystem.

While the average family size in the United States declined over the past seven decades, the average house size increased. A standard single-family house in 1950 was 983 square feet. It now averages 2631 square feet. Additional closets and room sizes enabled us to pack the building with more possessions.

Over the years, advertising bombarded us with messages that we need the new cell phone, the most up-to-date fashion, or the improved household items.… Read the rest

Spark up your creativity: Traits of creative people

Most people say they want to be more creative. They want to build more traits of creativity. But what does that mean? That they want to be the next Steve Jobs? Or that they want to relax into an imaginative hobby?

Does it mean they want to spend more time alone, thinking prolific thoughts?  Or that they want to charge into stimulating conversations with diverse thinkers?

Hmm … (Pause to think prolific thoughts).

What is creativity?

So what is creativity? Here are a few definitions.

  • Originality, progressiveness, or imagination
  • The ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns
  • A mental characteristic that allows a person to think outside of the box

From these definitions it’s clear that creativity links to individuality. But there are other perspectives.… Read the rest

Coaching a Culture of Innovation

Innovation is the Holy Grail in many of today’s organizations. Amazon lists over 50,000 books on the topic, and a Google search finds over 40 million results. With that much information available, why don’t we have THE answer yet?

Maybe it has to do something with culture. Sustainable innovation requires a stable culture of innovation. That can be a challenge.

While organizations are not creative per se, they set the stage for employees. They provide the environment (culture and blueprints) that either enable or stifle it.  I described  a basic motivational blueprint (Teresa Amabile’s Componential Theory of Creativity) in my post on organizational creativity. Here I want to focus on culture.

Culture is essentially the personality of an organization—its mores, social dynamics, and ambiance.… Read the rest

The War of Art: Conquering Creative Resistance

The War of Art book review

I recently came across a book that challenged me a bit as a writer. It’s not new (the first copyright – the version I read – is 2002).  But I found it relevant in my current efforts to spark my own creativity in fiction writing. After all, I spent most of my career in more analytical, “business-friendly” pursuits. The book is “The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle” by Steven Pressfield.

I don’t recall how I heard about this book. And it took me a while to get around to reading it. I skimmed through the book quickly. The main theme I picked up was that creative people use a host of excuses to forestall progress (a process he refers to as Resistance.) Ho, hum.… Read the rest

The Creative Process: It’s More than Games

The creative process is not a singular flash of insight. It doesn’t come simply from throwing Nerf balls around the room. Or playing with Duplo blocks and pipe cleaners. There’s more to it than that. While there is no single “best-practice” approach to creativity, there are some typical components. And that’s true even for diverse disciplines.

When creativity is discussed from the perspective of the arts, it usually has a relatively individualistic, free-flowing aura. When it is applied to business, it is more commonly associated with innovation and the development of tangible (and profitable) value. Yet both stem from several similarities in general approach.

Here are the steps of creativity. Although I listed them sequentially, the actual process is more iterative than step-by-step.… Read the rest

I Have a Great Idea … Don’t I?

Creative ideas sprout up all the time. Not all are brilliant. How can you make sure you have a “GREAT idea”?

Discipline. Research. Judgment. And a tough skin.

As creativity morphs into innovation, the focus shifts from creation to evaluation. Think differently. Here’s a tool to get you started on your great idea.

Six Thinking Hats

It’s hard for people to critique their own ideas. And people get stuck in their own habitual thinking styles. If you’re optimistic, you evaluate from that mindset. If your tendency is to be risk-averse, you approach judgment from that perspective. It takes a conscious act of will to consider an idea from multiple perspectives.

That’s where Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats comes in. Similar to the sorting hats in Harry Potter (which assigned new students to one of four school House), de Bono’s hats separate questions by mindset.… Read the rest

Organizational Creativity: Motivational Blueprint

Creativity comes in many shapes and sizes. That’s true for individuals AND organizations. But individual creativity can exist without an organization.

The reverse is not true.

Organizations are not inherently creative. They rely on individuals for original ideas. In fact, “organizational creativity” is almost an oxymoron.

I said almost.

While organizations are not creative per se, they set a stage. They provide the environment (culture and blueprints) that either enable or stifle it.  I’ll dive into culture in a separate post. Here I’ll focus on a basic motivational blueprint: Teresa Amabile’s Componential Theory of Creativity.

Componential Theory of Creativity

Amabile's Componential Theory of Creativity

According to Amabile’s model, creativity relies on both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. Intrinsic refers to drivers inside each of us. These are the circles in the Venn diagram.… Read the rest

Three Ways to Kick-start Creativity on Demand

It’s hard to be creative on demand. Yet people are expected to do it all the time. Deadlines force it. That’s why it’s so important to find ways to kick-start creativity on demand.

Deadlines move creativity from ideas to action.”

Linda Gorchels

Templates

Yes, there are templates (of sorts) for creativity. Writers use them all the time. Larry Brooks, in Story Engineering, for example, describes a template with four contextual parts of a novel. Part 1 is the setup, Part 2 covers the hero being confronted with a problem, Part 3 is the hero’s attack on the problem, and Part 4 is the resolution. Starting with a framework gives creativity a boost.

Mystery writers apply similar templates for setting up the crime, the investigations, the clues and red herrings, and the final resolution.… Read the rest

Creativity Killers and Defenders

We’re faced with a slew of creativity killers every day—many of our own making. Here are some of the most common ones.

Procrastination as a Creativity Killer

How often do you have great ideas you’ll get to “someday”—the infamous “tomorrow?” But then tomorrow never comes.

The hardest part of creativity is getting started. You will never get to all those books you’ve stacked, all those articles you intend to read, all those half-started projects—yet they provide a frequent excuse for procrastination. Creative people often feel they are pulled in many directions, with little chance of finishing anything. Sometimes it’s due to perfectionism. Other times it’s simply a defense mechanism. But nothing is going to change unless you change the way you think.… Read the rest