How to Be More Creative

25 Mar 2012 Sandeep Mehta

Wall Street Journal article Jonah Lehrer on How to Be Creative has a list of items that can improve creativity (or innovation).   :

  1. Color Blue: Subjects solved twice as many puzzles when surrounded by blue.
  2. Broaden the scope: Try to find ways to rephrase the problem so the solution space increases.  For example, instead of driving, think of the problem space as transportation or movement.
  3. Think like a child: People who imagine themselves as 7-year-olds are significantly better at divergent problem solving.
  4. Laughing: People who are exposed to short comedy video are 20% better at insight puzzles.
  5. Imagine distance from the puzzle: People are better at solving problems that come from far away.
  6. Work at unusual times: People working at their least alert time of the day are more creative.
  7. Relax: Being relaxed and not focusing too much on the problem improves creativity. As Einstein once declared, “Creativity is the residue of time wasted.”
  8. Be persistent: Not every problem can be solved immediately.  Keeping at it is important.”All great artists and thinkers are great workers,” Nietzsche wrote.
  9. Measure progress: If you are getting close, work harder. If you have hit a wall, take a break.
  10. Work outside the box: People who had a 5’x5′ box next to them did better at creativity problems.
  11. Daydream: People who daydream are better at creativity.  
  12. Get diverse experiences: Steve Jobs believed creativity is about making connections.  To make diverse connections, one needs to have a broad set of experiences.
  13. Develop a diverse network: Another Steve Jobs approach to obtaining diverse experiences is to talk to a diverse set of people.
  14. See the world: People exposed to different cultures or who have lived abroad are more creative.
  15. Move to a metropolis:  Moving to a larger city is shown to increase inventions. 

We have discussed approaches to become more innovativeenhance team creativitynurture disruptive ideas or engender innovation.  We have discussed Steve Jobs methods extensively.  Here is an excerpt from the article about Steve Jobs:

 Steve Jobs famously declared that “creativity is just connecting things.” Although we think of inventors as dreaming up breakthroughs out of thin air, Mr. Jobs was pointing out that even the most far-fetched concepts are usually just new combinations of stuff that already exists. Under Mr. Jobs’s leadership, for instance, Apple didn’t invent MP3 players or tablet computers—the company just made them better, adding design features that were new to the product category.

He found that those entrepreneurs with the most diverse friendships scored three times higher on a metric of innovation. Instead of getting stuck in the rut of conformity, they were able to translate their expansive social circle into profitable new concepts.

Finally, not included in the article, but another way to improve ability to tackle problems is to consume some glucose.

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