Creativity is still seen as some special power that only few of us possess. The brothers Tom and David Kelley, founders and owners of world-known design firm IDEO, have been pioneering in trying to break this impression by empowering anyone to be more creative. And gaining creative confidence even among the most business-minded people seems to be slowly breaking through; I heard just a few days back a member of the board of Finnair – the Finnish airline company – state before an audience of hundreds of people how anyone can learn to be more creative. Or in fact, she was compelling for the leaders of the biggest Finnish companies – even the government – to bring more creativity to the boards and to the decision-making of Finland.
The Kelley would probably add to the sentence “anyone can learn to be more creative” the word “again” as they are emphasizing in their book “Creative Confidence” that basically all of us have embraced our creativity as children but have learned to lose the confidence in this skill and the ability to be proud of our creative work bit by bit as we have grown older. In this same book, the brothers introduce many exercises to regain more confidence in creating and being creative. I was planning to introduce some of the most concrete ones in this post but really, the book is a quick and joyful read so I would instead encourage everyone to get a copy of their own and start bringing more creativity to their lives, little by little. It gives the bigger picture of the state of the creativity problem and explains the background of the Kelley brothers and their reasons for writing the book.
However, there’s something important to add at this point and it is the notion of why all of us actually need creativity, the skill that all designers are expected to have but experts with other job titles are often looked a bit weirdly at if they try to think outside the box too much.
Design Thinking gives many answers to this debate. Many other posts in the SID blog (see for example here and here) explain what design thinking means but what’s important in this context is that even the academia has changed its’ approach to studying design thinking.
Originally, design thinking was studied as “the cognitive process of designers” but this has been stretched into researching “new models of processes [that] improve, accelerate and visualize every creative process carried out by designers, but in multidimensional teams in any kind of organization” *. I would add that today design thinking does not have to be carried out by designers but anyone who has switched their mindset to observing the world with new kinds of lenses.
The most important skills of a design thinker are true empathy towards the people she is designing, ability to create rapid prototypes and test out these and developing the service further based on the feedback that the design team has received.
The methods of Design Thinking can be learned relatively easily but first we should start in rebuilding the confidence in our own creativity as this is a prerequisite for the process. And more importantly, creativity is the only way for a business to survive for a longer time so now is the right time to start to gain more creative confidence and accept our creative work as the masterpieces they are!
*Tschimmel, Katja 2012. Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation (read it here).