Friday, October 16, 2009

How to be more creative?

"Innovation is the key to survival of any business"

The above statement holds an universal truth and must be treated on par with the 10 commandments, and almost all people with whom I discussed this agree with it. Yet when I ask the question to engineers "Are you a creative person?" Most of them answer negatively.

In today's world engineers will loose most of their creative abilities mainly due to the mundane nature of the tasks they do at work - essentially solve problems or build things. Their daily work does not require any creative thinking for 95% of the problems and it would be handled by routine procedures/plans. And when a new challenge emerges - there will be a major problem.

I have observed that for any new challenge that comes up, the answer to that problem will be first identified by a new college graduate or someone below the age of 25. However the idea coming from such an young person will not be fully baked to the taste of senior management - and is most likely to be dismissed. It will take someone in middle management or a senior engineer to polish the original idea, package it neatly and present it once again to senior management for "approval". But in all this process the organization will effectively try to kill any creative spirit of the young engineer.

So how does one retain their creativity while working for a big corporation?

Being creative in life is the key to being creative at work, so forget about all the crazy things that happen at work place and try to keep your creative skills alive. I offer few points/ideas on how one can remain creative always:
  1. Meet & talk to one new person every week.
  2. Avoid watching TV, instead find other forms of entertainment which requires active participation.
  3. Learn to relax & do nothing for 30 min everyday. It is important to give your mind a break.
  4. Read books on diverse subjects. The more diverse range of books you read the better. For example if you are an engineer, read books on physcology or history or economics or health.
  5. Expose yourself to a wide variety of art - be it music, dance, paintings, sculpture etc. Go to watch plays, art exhibitions, art galleries etc., and just relax & enjoy.
  6. Travel to different places. Travel may not necessarily be travel to exotic locales, even travel within the city to places where you have not been before will help. For example, I would travel to city market in the early morning to see the scale of wholesale trade, or go to pottery road & see how potters work, or go to the industrial area etc. If possible travel to historical places and learn the history of that place.
  7. Try your hand in any creative arts - be it painting, music, photography, writing poetry/short stories etc.
  8. Change your daily schedule. If you normally come to office at 9 AM, try coming in at 7 AM or 11 AM. Just commuting at a different time of the day will change your perspectives.

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