Breaking the box...

When I was at university studying business I did a whole module on creativity- studying it and understanding how the promotion of creativity/innovation in companies was the secret to success and longevity.

It’s a strange concept though- forcing creativity and I’ll be honest I just don’t think it’s possible. However, I do believe that you can create an atmosphere that encourages the creative process. There are loads of books on this subject, lots of quotes and motivational techniques but one of the best known is the phrase ‘outside the box thinking’; which, at its most basic definition, means promoting creativity to find an answer or solution.

What does it really mean?           

The phrase itself comes from the old school psychological 9 dot box test where you are asked to draw through all the dots without taking your pencil off of the paper- a test which fools most people as they attempt to keep within the traditional box shape rather than pushing outside the boundaries.

Inside the box thinking is our normal thought patterns- conscious recognition, familiarity and the tried and tested answers we know. This way of working is based on knowledge, experience, societal and familial influences and preconceptions and there is nothing wrong with this at all- it’s what helps us function day to day.

However, sometimes you need something a bit different and therefore you need to break outside the box. Stop all of the above thought patterns, open yourself to feedback and the opinions of others, change the way you think. Open yourself and your thoughts to creativity.

So how do you do it?

I’ve been doing a lot of reading on this whilst I was researching this blog and the fact is there are many different ways to encourage creativity and it can be intensely personal finding your own ‘muse’. However, there are some ideas that seem to theme throughout it all:

·       DO something different- a new job or a new location, anything to stop your mind going round and round the same problem

·       Take a different ROUTE- come at a problem from a different angle to stimulate creativity, think about it like looking at a group of anagram letters in a circle rather than a line

·       Enjoy a different WORLD- hobbies, travel, people these are all distractions that allow our minds to be inspired and open up to new thoughts

·       REFRAME your process- don’t stick to your normal routines, do things differently or backwards in order to spark new ideas in your mind

·       Ask QUESTIONS- question yourself at every turn, is it the right way to do something, is it the only way… questions often lead to the answers you need!

·       TRY and try again- don’t be afraid to make mistakes, a step backward is at least a step you know you don’t want to take again

·       Take a BREAK- often moving on to something mindless and changing focus can allow new thoughts to breakthrough

·       TALK it out- communication is key to the creative process, share your ideas and bounce them around with someone, everyone has a different perspective that can be helpful


So go on, break the box and get out there. Who knows where colouring outside the lines will take you :-)