in Business, Life

Fostering creative thinking

At Woo, we recently picked up on the next steps of a StrengthsFinder assessment we conducted within our leadership team towards the end of 2013. This assessment aims to identify your top 5 strengths and assist you in harnessing them, while creating a better understanding of the strengths others possess and how best to relate to those you work with daily. The follow up steps of this assessment included a call with a leadership coach, where in we discuss our strengths, answer a few questions and better understand how to create the next steps in our strengths finding journey.

During my call with Horace (our coach), he mentioned the following, which stuck with me; “If you can explain to someone how you perform a particular task, that task is a learned behaviour. If you can’t explain the exact steps, that task is an inherent strength”. For me, this task was product architecture and analysis.

As I’ve mentioned before, I really enjoy listening to podcasts. I listen to a wide variety of different topics, and attempt to glean value from each, and apply that value in different contexts. One of those topics relates to creativity.

Defining creativity

While listening to “Drive to Work”, a podcast by Mark Rosewater on game design, Mark mentioned that “creativity is the ability to see connections and commonalities between two seemingly unrelated items or topics”. This quote resonated with me, as I tend to do this very often without giving much thought to why I do this. I see connections between products or ideas and subconsciously go to work on analysing the steps we’d need to take in order to arrive at the outcome I’ve determined.

Learned behaviours

Inherently, this post is a result of seeing a connection between two seemingly unrelated topics. While I feel I am inherently creative in the way I think about topics (I can’t explain to you how I do this), I feel creative thinking is also entirely a learned behaviour, which can be picked up with practice.

An exercise in creative thinking

A simple exercise in creative thinking is to pick two random objects and begin listing connections. For example, if I were to choose a tomato and a firetruck, I could say that they’re both red, as a starting point. I’m sure there are many other connections (however tenuous), as well. This is a great way to begin thinking creatively.

Applying creative thinking in a business context

A large part of what I do as the head of Product at Woo is thinking through and analysing our product line, product strategy and applying creative thinking to spot gaps in our product line. Part of this, as well, is finding new revenue streams from existing products. How I do this is by choosing two products, listing the commonalities and spotting areas where they overlap.

Having applied this with men-tees in other business contexts, I believe this is a powerful way of thinking about a product or service range and scaling the services or products offered to grow a business.

While this may sound odd or complex, it’s really a fun and straight forward process. All it takes is a bit of creative thinking. 😉

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