Woman with umbrella, photo illustrating human creativity.
Soft Skills

How to develop creativity at work?

PerformanSe|5 min read|20 January

At PerformanSe, if there is one theme that fascinates us, it is that of soft skills, emotional and behavioural skills that are often contrasted with hard skills, which are more technical in nature.

We love them so much that our brand new podcast "Soft skill, who are you?" is dedicated to them (in french for now, translation coming soon). The first episode is about creativity, a skill that, once you reach adulthood, is certainly not reserved only for artists. Indeed, stop the stereotypes, you don't need to have dyed your hair blue to be creative!

Here is a summary of what you need to know about this wonderful soft skill, and some advice on how to develop it better and boost your performance and fulfilment at work.

What is creativity?

Creativity has several meanings. It can be understood as :

  • the power of an individual to create, i.e. to imagine and realise something new 
  • and as the ability to discover a new, original solution to a given problem

However, one definition of creativity is accepted by most researchers in the field: that of the American psychologist Robert Sternberg. Creativity is seen as the ability to produce something that is both new and adapted to the context in which it occurs.

Here, creativity will be the process by which the imagination is transformed into reality, including times of preparation, incubation, illumination and verification. This is how we understand the notion of creativity applied to work: finding an original and innovative idea that respects the budgetary and time constraints as well as the resources that can be allocated to the project concerned.

This activates :

  • your divergent thinking: brainstorming to find as many innovative ideas as possible
  • and your convergent thinking: putting ideas together to produce an original idea that meets the requirements imposed 

Creativity is seeing what others see and thinking what no one has ever thought

Albert Einstein

How to stimulate creativity in everyday life?

The golden rule to follow: like any skill, the creative spirit must be developed and maintained!


Taking breaks from work

We are talking about moments to ourselves to let our minds wander, to change our surroundings, to take a step back.

This can be thanks to a few minutes of meditation guided by an application, a walk outside without headphones or phone... Another practice as simple as it is effective: using a notebook to indulge in journaling. The idea is to write down what comes to mind without the objective of rereading the content. The idea is to unplug the mind and let yourself be guided by what comes instinctively.

It is often when we let go of the mind that we come up with the most innovative ideas and solve a complex problem, because we give our mind the space to associate ideas that may at first seem to be at odds.


Cultivating curiosity

Replace the adage "Curiosity is a bad habit" with "Curiosity is the best habit", or even a superb quality if you have the right intention!

Children in the midst of learning (ask themselves) questions about everything. It is this ability to question what surrounds us, what intrigues us, what challenges us and what escapes us, that allows us to understand, to learn and to grow in our vision of the world.

Getting into the habit of observing situations and people, suspending hasty judgement and taking a step back instead of always reacting is the best way to cultivate an open and creative mind!

Creativity is nourished by our experiences and knowledge of the world. The boundaries between the different aspects of our lives are porous. A personal experience can very well feed the answer to a professional problem!

In the context of the work, questioning is also very useful to know the limits and the realistic framework necessary for the execution and realisation of the innovative idea.


Getting out of your comfort zone

Routine does not stimulate our imagination. Our creative spirit is then put at half-mast and becomes lazy very quickly.

To break the routine, there is nothing better than to confront a new project, a new activity, to go and meet new people... This happens quite naturally, when you cultivate your curiosity on a daily basis, there is only one step to take to leave your comfort zone and try something new!

When going to a familiar place, you can, for example, simply start by choosing a different route than the one you are used to. Getting out of autopilot mode, opening yourself up to something new is already a step towards more creativity!

When we are afraid to take risks or when we are uncomfortable with breaking our habits, reviewing our relationship with failure will be of great help. Indeed, learning to consider mistakes as opportunities to take the time to get to know oneself better and to bounce back better, helps to relieve the fear of the unknown.

In companies, the introduction of flexible management, i.e. management that reduces procedures, leaves room for autonomy and, above all, the possibility of making mistakes, will encourage risk-taking and creativity among employees.


Opening up to your emotions

Just like opening up to new experiences, opening up to your inner world and your emotions is a great help. Indeed, we are not teaching you anything by reminding you that emotions are at the heart of creation!

Like the heroine of the Pixar cartoon Vice Versa, who plunges us into the wonderful world of emotions, we quickly realise the importance of listening to them and understanding their messages. If we stop letting ourselves be led by the nose unconsciously, we can live a more harmonious life, and we can tap into this emotional wealth to reveal our creativity. In general, taking care of ourselves puts us in the best possible conditions to nurture our creative spirit.


Get inspired regularly

First, we need to identify our sources of inspiration. It could be reading interviews or listening to podcasts about people we would like to be like, attending a play, watching a talkshow, walking in nature, travelling to different cultures... It's simple, getting inspired regularly energises us and feeds our creativity!

Even if this may seem paradoxical, we quickly realise that it is essential to set the framework within which we will let our creativity evolve, particularly at work or when setting up a new project. Without a framework, we get lost in the sometimes infinite possibilities, and it becomes difficult to materialise and make real what we imagine.

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