How to spark your creativity and come up with new ideas — Dropbox Business Blog UK

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3 May 2018 — 4 min read

How to spark your creativity and come up with new ideas

Rarely do brilliant ideas appear out of the blue. They take time, consideration and more than a little effort to develop. But, you don’t have to be a creative genius to come up with them – you just need to train yourself to think creatively. Think back to when you were a kid growing up, when you would play make-believe with friends, when you felt free to challenge ideas and colour outside the lines. All that took was a different way of looking at things and a suspension of disbelief. As part of our commitment to helping you unleash your creative energy, we've pulled together some top tips to help you push your boundaries, aid your creative thinking and expand your creativity.

Yes, now that you are older it feels more difficult to do, but it is most likely that much harder because you are out of practice. That instinct to create and the impulse for self-expression is there in all of us, you just need to find yours. In our recent post for World Creativity and Innovation Day, we spoke to its Founder, Marci Segal and she explained that creativity is just the combination of two things considered in a new way. When it’s broken down that simply, it’s obvious that we can all do it.

But how do you think creatively?

Creativity isn’t just for creatives. In fact, creativity is widely touted for giving people in business a competitive edge. Being able to think your way out of and around particular situations is a powerful quality that many leaders look for in their teams. The great news is, everyone has some and you are probably more creative than you think. When you have a spare few minutes, take the quiz that lets you see your CQ, or creative intelligence. Wherever you feel you fall on this creativity spectrum, here’s some tips to help you get more creative:

1. Pay attention

We often think of creativity and creative thinking as a lightbulb moment, but in truth, it is paying careful attention to the now that helps chart our course to what could be. In fact, research shows that being curious can benefit your career by improving performance and enhancing your workplace relationships.

Ask yourself a question about something you’re trying to solve or create, then just pay attention. Carry a notebook and write down what you see and think. Seek new experiences and read widely. Keep a running log of ideas, open questions, and hunches. It will feed your creativity and make you think creatively.

2. Make connections

Just like Marci Segal said, creativity can be as simple as just putting two things together that haven’t been put together before. Research suggests that making these connections allows knowledge and experience to coalesce in service to our goals. Something as simple as daydreaming could help you find ways to connect dots in different ways.

If you think about it, this is all we are ever doing: building on what came before. Within every new possibility is the chance to develop and improve. That is why you should ask questions like: what else can I do with this? And work with others who may have faced similar problems or who think differently to you. When you seek out and adapt solutions or approaches from other industries, who knows what you might uncover or create.

3. Collaborate

Most of us achieve more together than we do alone. Collaboration is widely recognised as a key driver of creativity and growth in businesses of every kind. What’s tricky is bringing people together in ways that leverage everyone’s best thinking.

Innovation expert Jeff DeGraff advises collaboration works best when you create quality without uniformity, variety without discord, and cooperation without consensus. It’s a fancy way of saying that you need a diverse group of people capable of working together without too much friction.

Whatever it is, we do it better together. When we collectively observe, make connections and share ideas, we can draw from a smorgasbord of perspectives to see beyond those that have come before.

As your creative intelligence grows, so will your impact, satisfaction, and confidence. You will find new ideas and be more comfortable exploring new things. The work you produce will drive your business and your career forward too, helping you find more of what you are looking for from work.

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