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Learn To Be More Creative By Flexing Your Creativity Muscle

Posted on November 24th, 2015 by in Chemical R&D

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Creativity is a central trait of any good engineer or scientist. Although often overlooked, our ability to be creative is crucial in most of the work we do. From the mundane, day-to-day work to the big breakthroughs that everyone takes notice of, a creative approach underpins every step of the best technical minds.

Technical and creative – how does that work?
We’re often quick to segment the world around us, putting everything in it’s own category. And when we do, it can be difficult to spot the mistakes we make and the shades of gray that are most definitely there.

Here’s just a few categories that spring to mind. With just a moment to think about each, it’s clear to see where the lines become blurred. But it’s all too easy to use these categories way beyond the point that they stop being useful. It’s easy to get stuck in one category or the other and assume they’re mutually exclusive.
• Light / Dark
• Work / Play
• True / False
• Profitable / Worthless
• Technical / Creative
I don’t know about you, but it takes me some mental effort to convince myself that I am (or at least can be) creative, as well as technical. I find it difficult to remember that both can coexist. But I’m convinced they can. Let me tell you why.

What is creativity?
When I think about creativity, I think about people painting beautiful pictures or writing inspiring songs. I don’t necessarily think about about people designing turbine blades or devising manufacturing processes. But actually, all of those things can be creative. Let’s go back to the definition of the word. What is creativity in the first place?

There are loads of slightly different definitions of creativity out there, but here is one that I particularly like:

“Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. Creativity is characterized by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions.” Linda Naiman

Going by that definition, creativity certainly sounds like it belongs in the realm of engineers and scientists. That sounds like exactly what we should be doing to solve problems and bring about innovation in our workplaces.

How to become more creative.
For starters, to become more creative we need to drop our resistance to that word. If you’re anything like me, you tend to see “technical” as superior to “creative”. If that’s you, stop it! That’s not a helpful mindset. Creativity is a core part of any technical process, so let’s embrace the things that help spark ideas and boost creativity.

Next, if you want to be more creative, you’re going to need to practice. Creativity isn’t something you’re either born with or without. It’s a skill. It can be learned. It can be developed. So, to become more creative, flex the muscle just as you would with any other. Draw, write, spend time coming up with new ideas, explore the possibilities of applying products or principles in new contexts.

If you put in the training and actively practice and your creativity muscle will grow.

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