Harnessing Creativity

Lately I find myself getting lost in my thoughts. There is a great deal of activity happening lately in the realm of idea generation and brainstorming. I find myself shifting from one tangent to another. If you are an Apprentice fan and are watching the show’s latest season, you will notice that many similar discussions take place in the first couple of episodes. Tom Green, one of the participants, is an highly creative individual who provides his team with a lot of ideas and options. However, in the first couple of episodes no one has been able to harness his creativity and channel it in a productive manner. I empathize with the project managers because harnessing creativity in a team is a challenging task. The bigger the personalities the more challenging it gets. At the same time, the goal should not be to suppress levels of creativity by setting stringent measures. A balance needs to be struck which requires both these two major components.

Self Awareness: Creativity stems from knowledge about your industry, product or service. The deeper the level of knowledge and experience, the more directly correlated it is with higher levels of creativity. Personally, whenever I find myself going off on a tangent, I do my best to re-focus my thoughts on the matter being discussed. I used to do this initially with a notepad, and would write down when and why I drifted off course during a discussion. I am now more aware about the way I channel my thoughts and even though I still do go off on tangents occasionally, I am able to correct the course a lot faster. Once we are able to do this, we will find ourselves adding more value to conversations and more importantly, get specific and pertinent feedback from our peers.

Management: As far as management of many creative individuals is concerned, the leader or facilitator of the discussion needs to have the ability to pick key points from ideas and suggestions being discussed and probe them deeper. Whenever I am leading a discussion in which I do not possess the same level of knowledge as my peers, I constantly write down and review key points being discussed. After this, I ask for specific feedback on certain ideas that I feel fit the larger vision and discuss them further. The last thing you want to do in a highly creative group is to let the conversation run wild with everyone giving their ideas without any concrete discussions around them. These points have helped me make brainstorming sessions much more productive and efficient.

As an entrepreneur I am constantly exposed to new business concepts and ideas that my friends or I may be working on. Things do tend to get a little out of hand when we have too many things going on at the same time. It is important that we do not let this flurry of activity effect the level of productivity associated with each project we are associated with.

How do you think creativity can be harnessed? What are some steps you take to harness creativity in your business? Would like to hear your comments and suggestions.

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