Keeping the Spark

July 23, 2010 3 Comments

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“The problems we face now, and in the future, simply demand that we do more than just hope for inspiration to strike.”

“The Creativity Crisis” by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

Blogging on a weekly basis and trying to stay on my social change game generally speaking, requires a steady flow of inspiration and creativity.  Of course, there are times when both can feel in short supply, and so I’ve been interested in how to keep this vital stream clear and moving.  Bronson and Merryman’s recent Newsweek article highlights both the importance and possibility of ratcheting up generative capacity.  Turning to a few sources, including my artistic brother, creativity guru Michael Michalko, Venessa Miemis, and The Innovator’s Toolkit, here are a few of my favorite ways for keeping the old noodle limber:

  • Invest in a Brain Bank – Otherwise known as a journal or a portfolio, I have found it very helpful to collect inspirational quotes, interesting pictures, provocative ideas, vexing questions, inspiring images, words, doodles, etc. and to pull them out every now and then to stimulate new thinking and ways of looking at the world.
  • Change a Habit – Take a different route to work, get up earlier, eat something unusual, combine ingredients in a way you haven’t in the past, listen to new kinds of music, read books from unfamiliar fields, talk less (or more), listen more (or less).
  • Keep a Bright Ideas List – When you see a problem in your daily life, or something that might be improved, jot down your solution(s).  How would you better arrange the buttons on your cell phone?  What would make sitting at your desk more comfortable?  How might you reduce commuting time?
  • Check and Reverse Assumptions – Take an assumption and reverse it to see what new thinking is stimulated.  For example, IISC has clients, IISC trains clients, IISC charges its clients for training.  If we reverse those assumptions, what emerges?  IISC does not have clients.  What if instead we said we had partners?  We don’t train those partners, we sit side-by-side with them in their work.  We don’t charge them for training, rather we become just-in-time coaches, sitting alongside change agents in the actual work.
  • Consult an Idea Hub – The web provides vast resources for our creativity.  Here is a great list (with links) of idea hubs to stimulate thinking.

What else have you done to successfully keep insights and ideas flowing?


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