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The Formula for Creativity

By Chuck Cusumano and Jillian Broaddus

“Creativeness is the ability to see relationships where none exist” – Thomas Disch

Creativity is one of the key skills to problem solving. And solving problems is the key element to business success – or life success, for that matter!

So, what exactly does it mean to be creative? Why do some people easily have thousands of ideas bouncing around their minds, while others struggle to initiate a single one? Ultimately, creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. Many of us are naturally imaginative, but fewer of us are truly creative. Creatives act upon their dreams.

How can we think more creatively? Being creative is nothing more than this simple process:

A known thing + another known thing = a new thing! For example:

  • Grapefruit + Mandarin Orange = Tangelo

  • Taxi + Private Vehicles = Uber

Or, it can be the process of taking a known thing and its known use and using it in a new way. For instance, one of the most “influential toys ever created” – the slinky – was created from the springs used to stabilize equipment on navy ships. Similarly, Yale students used leftover pie tins to invent the Frisbee.

At the end of the day, if you want different results, you need to stop using the same ideas, systems, or resources. Sometimes the resources have to stay the same, so how may you use them in different ways to accomplish your goal? Other times, the systems must stay the same, but we can use a unique combination of resources to achieve our desired outcomes! As Plato said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” But, being creative also means being ahead of the curve!

We challenge you to solve more problems to offer more value to your teams and customers. Be creative with what you have and watch what happens!

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