Teachers, Authors, Speakers, Writers And Experts!
Copy My Blogging System To Sell Your Online Course. Follow My Step-By-Step Blueprint, Updated For 2017
Greetings fellow Entrepreneurs, this week’s article is all about techniques, one thing I’m not usually very focused on. I love exploring and understanding why we do things and how we work, but my articles have been somewhat lacking in techniques.
One of the reasons for the way I write is that if we don’t have a deep understanding of how we work and why something is important, it doesn’t matter how many techniques we learn, we won’t apply them anyway. But this week, that’s all we’re doing – a big dump of as many creativity enhancement activities as I can squish into this article. So anyone feeling a need for more exercises to boost creativity can revel in the plethora of options available.
Numerous studies have been done to prove or disprove the effectiveness of brainstorming. It turns out, getting people together in groups for brainstorming sessions is not the most effective way to enhance creative thinking and innovation. Brian Mullen from the University of Kent analyzed 20 studies of brainstorming, in the vast majority of experiments, participants working on their own produced higher quantity and quality of ideas than groups.
The primary reason for this is a phenomenon called “social loafing” (for some reason, the sound of social loafing makes me giggle internally as it conjures up funny images of people “slothing” around in groups). What this means is when we work on our own, success or failure is entirely due to our own abilities and hard work. In groups, there is a diffusion of responsibility, so success or failure is not something that can come back to the individual. Because there will be no personal punishment or personal praise/ reward, members of groups slacken off compared to when the onus is on them individually to perform. Interesting conclusion huh?
So rather than getting a bunch of people together to brainstorm, it’s best to get us to work on coming up with as many ideas and concepts as we can individually. If it is a group project, of course then bring people together afterwards to discuss the findings. This leads to the next interesting and very useful aspect of enhancing creativity in a group dynamic.
Studies have shown that playing musical chairs in a group dynamic will lift the creativity and innovation of members rather than everyone sitting in the same place next to the same people. Charlan Nemeth and Margaret Ormiston from the University of California conducted a study in which participants were asked to change seats during the problem solving tasks. They observed a significant rise in creativity and innovation as a result, compared to the groups that were allowed to remain in the same seating formation.
These findings were supported by research done by Hoon-Seok Choi and Leigh Thompson. They found that even in groups of three, adding one new person to the group dynamic caused a rise in creative thinking. So if you do have a team working creatively on a group project, it seems like the best plan of action is to get everyone started working on their own. Then when the group comes together, have everyone switch chairs and shuffle around the group dynamic to keep the creativity and innovation flowing at optimum levels.
This is one of my favorite techniques to enhance creativity. In my book, I spoke about how I often need to spend time in nature to de-stress and awaken my creativity. I found out after writing this, there is scientific evidence that proves this is an effective way to enhance creativity. I think it’s cool how we instinctively know things to help us in our lives, if we just trust ourselves enough to follow it.
Japanese psychologists Seiji Shibata and Naoto Suzuki carried out controlled experiments in office environments in which they placed a green, leafy pot plant in front of or to the side of a person’s workspace. The tests showed that having the plants nearby and within the range of vision consistently increased creativity and innovation of the participants.
Again, this research was supported by experiments done by Robert Ulrich from Texas A&M University. When flowers and plants were added to an office environment, his tests showed a 15% increase in ideas from males, and females came up with more flexible solutions to problems posed. If plants can’t be kept in the office environment, then being able to see plants and trees out of office windows can have a similar positive effect. So if you need to get some creative juice flowing, perhaps look at going green and getting some plants in your work environment.
Apparently, fake plants, or pictures of plants on the wall or on screen savers doesn’t have the same effect, so don’t try to fake it (there is an entire body of extremely interesting research as to why real plants are so beneficial to our emotional and psychological state, but that’s another article altogether, and quite off topic). However, it does lead me to the next creativity enhancement technique.
The color green is associated with positivity and relaxation, it’s also been found to increase creativity and innovation. Andrew Elliot from University of Rochester found that the color green caused triple the success rate in solving anagrams (an anagram is a type of word play, the result of rearranging the letters of a word or phrase to produce a new word or phrase, using all the original letters exactly once).
Affecting creativity through using the color green is helpful because in the absence of plants, we can come up with plenty of other ways to incorporate green in our workspace. For example, green clothes or green office supplies or equipment.
This makes me wonder why having pictures of plants or fake ones wouldn’t be somehow beneficial as the color green is still going to be working it’s magic, even if the physical and emotional benefits are missing from having a real plant present. A living plant will always be the best option, but sometimes it might not be possible (I find fake plants quite weird and depressing though, so that wouldn’t work for me).
Another side note on how our creativity taps into useful insights and instincts in our lives. When I was designing my website, I chose green as a predominant color throughout. I had no idea about the effects of green on creativity, or our psychological or emotional state when I made this choice. I just liked it and followed my intuition. I consistently find my creativity is very accurate when it comes to presenting me with the perfect solution to my problems, if I just follow my creative instincts!
Guess what? I’ve found myself near the end of the article and there’s a crazy amount of techniques still to be shared! I’d better move on as to why thinking of Lady Gaga can improve creativity and innovation seeing as I put it in my heading. As for all the other techniques, we’ll continue this little foray into enhancing creativity next week.
So…Lady Gaga! Now there’s a lass who inspires an incredible amount of response to her style of creative expression. Whether you like it or not, she certainly knows how to get noticed for her creativity. But how can she help us enhance our creativity? It has to do with mental priming.
Psychologists Ap Dijksterhuis and Ad van Knippenburg from the University of Nijmegen did some experiments in which they found people would get the answers to questions correct almost 20% more of the time if they thought about someone they considered intelligent, like a university professor. The same technique works for enhancing creativity.
Psychologist Jens Forster from University of Bremen did tests in which participants were asked to think about the lifestyle and appearance of a typical punk (anarchic and radical). In the tests on creativity, those who focused on the punks scored significantly higher than those who thought about someone we don’t immediately equate with creativity, like an accountant.
Lady Gaga is a perfect example of someone on our radar these days whose personal style and creative expression is definitely on the radical side, whether you find it anarchic or not is for you to decide. So thinking of Lady Gaga in some of her mad outfits would be a great way to mentally prime yourself for a few minutes when preparing to tackle problems that require creativity and innovation.
Just a quick note in regard to mental priming, it has been shown to backfire if we think of someone we consider a creative genius, that is someone whose creative gifts are beyond the scope of most people. So thinking about Leonardo da Vinci or Michelangelo would actually cause us to shut down rather than awaken our creativity.
It’s related to us unconsciously comparing ourselves with these creatives and feeling disheartened and discouraged by the comparison. So whatever you do, when applying this technique, don’t overdo it! If you think Lady Gaga is a genius, better pick someone a little more low key…maybe Lil’ Kim…HA-HA! I’m going to have leave now, I’m making bad jokes!
I will be back next week with some more fabulous techniques for enhancing creativity. A lot of the studies in this post comes from a fabulous book, 59 Seconds, by Professor Richard Wiseman. It’s a brilliant book if anyone’s looking for a good read. Once again, please leave any comments you have in regard to the ideas in this post. Thanks for reading, and here’s to your creative success.