How to Be More Creative

Great ideas can come from anyone in your organization with a bit of creativity.

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Are you a creative person? Would you like to be more creative? It's really not as daunting as it may seem. Creativity may be a natural gift to a select few, but great ideas can come from anyone in your organization. The team at 360 Destination Group is constantly tasked with coming up with new and creative ideas for corporate events. We work hard at staying on top of the "creative game" and we've found that creativity can be a learned behavior. If you're trying to strengthen your creative muscle for your next corporate event, try some of these fun activities during your next brainstorming session:

Write by hand. Are you brainstorming while keeping your notes organized in Evernote or some other word-processing application? Putting a pen to paper to outline your thoughts can really help with new ideas.  Use colored pencils or crayons to release your inner kid. 

Work backwards. Sometimes we get stuck in a cycle of coming up with the same old boring ideas that don't even contribute to improving the situation. If your team is hitting a brick wall, or running in circles, try thinking backwards. Rather than trying to figure out the best thing to do, try coming up with the worst possible thing that could happen. This is not about negative energy; rather, it is intended to enlighten minds as highlighting the don'ts sometimes makes the dos stand out more clearly. 

Do something utterly boring. Try working on a task that is mindless. Doing a monotonous task may allow your mind to be free to re-conceptualize the problem or allow your mind to wander. Be sure to keep a pad and pen nearby to write down your thoughts. Then, get back to the original task and hope for more inspiration.

Make party invitations. Consider the issue at hand to be like a party, and the details of that party the potential brainstorming ideas. Each person writes invitations to the guests letting them know of all the pertinent information for a festive event. Once complete, the participants read through the content they came up with while the facilitator posts themes on the whiteboard or easel. The group will then identify common and crucial elements of the invitations and use the details to refine the solution. 

Embrace something crazy or surreal. A study suggests that seeing something unbelievable, crazy or surreal can put your mind into "overdrive" as it tries to make sense of what the eyes are viewing.  Since the mind strives to make sense of things it sees, experiencing something surreal can force the mind to boost idea creation and creative thinking. 

Stand up. It's incredible how the simple act of standing up while in a meeting can transform your demeanor and mindset. During your brainstorm session or weekly meeting, encourage group members to stand, walk around, and get their blood flowing. Sitting can sometimes show people they can say what they need to say and be done, while walking or moving around helps open body positions up and allows people to feel free to express new ideas and continue the conversation. 

Build a bridge. You've identified where you are and where you want to be, but now you need to figure out how to get from here to there. Get two extra-large sticky notes and write "point A" on one and "point B' on the other, and set them a sizable distance apart from one another. Use smaller sticky notes to build the bridge with brainstormed ideas to connect the two points. Invite the participants to group together related concepts, analyze each and discuss the potential timeline for the construction project or task.

Play puzzles. In a mosaic or jigsaw puzzle, every piece is part of a larger picture. In a brainstorming session, every idea is part of the larger solution. Take a large piece of paper, create a shape that represents the project, then cut that into multiple sections. Have each person draw or write their idea on their section, stand up to present the benefits and why, then arrange it in the spot where it fits into the picture. Once all of the ideas are posted, discuss and determine the best results to move forward with. 

In a July 2012 study on creativity that appeared in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, a lead researcher concluded that "diversifying experiences help people break their cognitive patterns and thus lead them to think more flexibly and creatively." The activities here and other twists on the traditional brainstorming session make the experience entertaining and productive at the same time. Remember to keep basic ground rules in mind and find the activity that fits your group the best. Creativity is meant to be fun and exciting, and the outputs brilliant, so get started on making it that way! 

Shelly Archer has more than 20 years in the incentive travel industry. As a partner at 360 Destination Group, she works in the Orange County, CA, office and focuses her efforts on marketing and sales. 360 Destination Group is a leading full-service destination management company (DMC) and is listed as a "Top 25 DMC" in the US. Whether it's transportation, decor, entertainment or the unique venue that helps you accomplish your goals - 360 Destination Group promises a culture of respect, responsiveness, creativity, professionalism and true partnership. 360 Destination Group's roots go back to 1978 when our founders shaped the destination management industry. It has offices all throughout California, Florida, and Chicago. Archer has extensive experience in the field of destination management and is a well-respected voice in the DMC community. She can be reached at [email protected]