What might Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, and a wide-range of other creative people have in common? Arguably, they practiced (whether simply part of their DNA or the result of honed discipline) 8 key behaviors.
I call these key behaviors, the 8Cs of Creativity. The first 4 behaviors are individual practices and the second 4 represent how teams work together to generate creative results. If you apply these steps, you will no doubt improve your own creative skills.
Take a moment to score yourself from 1 (low) to 10 (high) for each C. Use your scores to assess what you do well and where there may be room for improvement.
1. Conscious Observation: Purposely take in the world around you in a quest to find new ideas, concepts, or ways of doing things.
- When a new style of car drives by, do you notice it? (Heck, was the last street light you drove through green or red?)
- What was the wall color at the last restaurant you visited?
- What type of shoes is the closest person next to you wearing?
2. Capturize: It is not enough to consciously observe the world around you. You must also organize the information in a way that you can later access.
- Do you take photos of things that inspire or intrigue you so you can refer to them later?
- Do you keep a journal to capture ideas? Pinterest? Blog?
3. Contemplate: You must invest time in quiet reflection. Turn off the television, shut down the computer, silence the radio, and set time away from others to think.
- When was the last time you sat silently and thought about something – thinking is a business skill after all?
- Are you always surrounding yourself with noise? When you walk into a quiet room do you immediately turn on the television?
4. Contextualize: As you think about what you have observed and captured, uncover the meaning of what you see and how it relates to the roles you play.
- The next time your favorite store changes its displays, ask yourself why? Who are they trying to attract? What message are they trying to convey?
- Consider the names of new products that you see in the store – is there a theme out there that you should pay attention to?
5. Cross-Pollinate: Similar to moving pollen from one flower to another, people who effectively use the creative process take an idea and move it to another environment.
- What ideas have you exposed yourself to in one place that you could apply to your current situation?
- Are you facing a challenge that you can’t seem to solve using your old methods? Perhaps another industry can give you some insights.
6. Clamorize: The root word of clamorize is clamor. Clamor means commotion, uproar, and conflict. Individuals and teams should embrace conflict as they tackle problems, create new products, improve existing services, etc. Coming up with an idea, tearing it apart, and building something new from it is the essence of creativity.
- Does your team actively engage in discussions or do they look for the leader to provide the answer?
- Are people as passionate about brainstorming answers to a work challenge as they are to thinking about what they want to do over the weekend?
7. Crystallize: Crystallizing is the process a team follows to ultimately select the approach they will employ to address the challenges or take advantage of the opportunities they face.
- How does your team decide which idea wins? Consensus? Leader’s choice? Etc.?
- Is the decision-making process you use now working?
8. Critique: Creativity must include taking time to step back and assess what worked, what didn’t work, and what can be done better in the future. When put into practice, critiquing focuses on what we can learn from the experience.
- Are you so busy slaying the next dragon that the team fails to reflect on how the last effort went?
- Do you document what you learn so you don’t have to revisit the same issues again and again and again?
So, how did you do? What steps can you take today to move your scores in the right direction? Can you think of any Cs we left off the list?
(Note: The list came from an effort that I and my colleague, Scott Miller, undertook a few years ago on a project at FranklinCovey. If you don’t know FranklinCovey, I encourage you to check them out. Scott and I were working to capture the process we used to create marketing programs, identify strategic initiatives, and simply get things done in creative ways.)
Patrick Leddin, PhD is a speaker, global leadership consultant, and The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Five-Week Leadership Challenge. Patrick is an Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University with a thriving leadership blog and podcast, and 25-years of leadership experience. He offers an unparalleled mix of academic rigor and real-world experience.