How to make creativity a habit

In today's competitive environment businesses have come to rely on creative thinking to stay ahead of their competitors. 

This means that creative thinking is a highly valued skill in most organisations and today's creative problem solver frequently becomes tomorrow's executive.

The only problem with creativity is that it's rather mysterious and hard to explain.

Ask any artist, poet, scientist or inventor how they come up with great ideas and they'll find it really hard to describe their creative process.

 Over the years there has been plenty of research into the theory behind creative thinking, but we were curious about how you translate this theory into practice. We spoke to Dee Whitby, principal of a school known for turning out students who are innovative in their thinking.

 According to Dee there are two sides to creative problem solving; firstly, the ability to adapt whatever you have on hand to solve the problem; and secondly, recognising that there can be more than one correct answer to a problem.

"Something else to recognise is that habit can sometimes get in the way of solving a problem or innovating," cautions Dee.

"For example, you may hear people complain that music today all sounds very similar.

"While these observations might actually reflect personal taste, there is also an element of truth in it.

"You can be constrained by habits of thinking, which means that film makers, photographers and writers keep producing work along similar lines.

"Think about how often you can predict the ending of a movie or book," says Dee, "sometimes expert knowledge actually gets in the way because you see everything through a narrow view of the world".

 According to Dee, where a problem requires a completely new approach, a good way to spark new ideas is to involve people who have a broad or diverse range of knowledge.

A lot of innovative ideas are inspired by other disciplines and then modified and built upon. For example, Swiss engineer George de Mestral got the inspiration for his invention of Velcro[1] from nature. He studied the burrs that covered his dog after a hunting trip and discovered a simple design of hooks that nimbly attached to his pet's fur.

"For this reason at our school we don't encourage subject specialisation too early; rather we encourage students to explore a wide range of subjects first and then only choose electives from Year 9."

"One thing that is important for creativity is the foundation of imagination. Truly creative problem solving skills evolve from a combination of imagination and the willingness to try new things and take risks.

"In the primary school particularly our curriculum is designed to foster imagination and to encourage all students to give everything a go," says Dee.

 According to Dee constraints are also important in the creative process.

"The idea that creativity should operate in an environment of total freedom is actually not true," says Dee.

"Research has shown that applying some constraints and focus actually produces better results.

"At our school we challenge students to use their own imagination and creativity, for example in the Kindergarten there are actually very few traditional toys; rather we provide toys that are flexible in that they are made from natural materials that can be morphed into many different things.

"This means the children may create a pirate ship one day and a doll's house the next, using their imagination and the materials they have on hand," says Dee.



Address :

Unit 6, 65 Tennant Street, Fyshwick ACT 2609

Phone :

+61 2 6163 8300


+61 2 6163 8399


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