Most of us believe that only certain people are creative. These creative types are often broadly categorised by either who they are (i.e. musicians, artists, etc.) or what they do (i.e. graphic design, marketing, etc.). As it turns out, and most creativity experts tend to agree, this can’t be further from the truth. We are all creative in a certain way. In fact, we were all creativity experts once when we were children, making things out of play dough and drawing with crayons.

The authors of “Creative Confidence”, Tom and David Kelley believe you don’t need to make dramatic changes or take big steps towards becoming a creative person. Creative confidence can start with small actions such as picking up a marker and drawing something on a whiteboard. A lot of people have a fear of even approaching a whiteboard, let alone drawing something on it, and tend to insist that they “can’t draw”.

In their book, Tom and David Kelley refer to the work of visual thinker, Dan Roam who argues that if you can draw simple shapes such as a circle, square, triangle, line and blog, then you can draw. Sometimes just breaking the mental barrier and drawing something on a board, piece of paper or napkin can make you feel so empowered it becomes the catalyst for other small creative actions that can turn into a creative flow that will eventually become part of everything you do. Helping you solve all sorts of problems from simple to complex ones. The good news is that if you are not yet confident in expressing yourself through drawings, you are not alone. Dan Roam finds that most people are naturally confident only to go through others’ work with a red pen or highlighter. But you don’t have to be that person forever.

© Dan Roam


Ladders and bananas

Cyriel Kortleven, a creativity expert from Belgium, believes that we rely on our logical thinking 95% of the time and are so used to following rules, processes, systems and agreements that often times we get stuck doing things the same way without questioning whether there is a different (better) way. He calls it a “ladders and bananas” syndrome.


© Cyriel Kortleven

It begins when a banana peel is dropped (i.e. a problem occurs) and someone (either you or someone else) decides to put up a ladder over it to prevent potential falls and injures (i.e. the solution is found). So what happens next is both too funny and all too familiar. Suddenly everyone around (including you) starts using the ladder to bypass the banana peel and the cycle continues until someone else (usually a newcomer to an organisation) points out that there might be a different way of solving the problem.

Cyriel urges everyone who wants to become more creative to spot those invisible ladders, come up with alternative solutions and most importantly act on them. The last step can be easier said than done but it’s a crucial one for gaining creative confidence.

© Cyriel Kortleven

Even spotting the invisible ladders or barriers to creative thinking can be difficult. They come in all forms and shapes and can be both formal and informal. Some handy tips on how to spot them and how to turn them into positives can be found on the Idea Killers website that comes complete with downloadable versions of idea killer and idea booster compilations and loads of other useful information on creativity.

What about creativity in research?

In research, we are so used to using logic that it might appear that creative thinking has no place. But if you make an effort you can bring creativity into research by making small changes in anything from the way you capture and analyse data through to how you report findings. So next time you are putting together a proposal for a client, think about how you can do things differently and perhaps more creatively. Think about how technology can help you become a more creative researcher.

There are many companies that specialise in interactive dashboard reporting, Buzz Channel’sCemplicity platform being one of them. The combination of cutting-edge technology and beautiful design is what makes Cemplicity reports both powerful and incredibly attractive. So instead of static and boring Word reports that researchers used to deliver to clients for years, you can now take your clients’ data and turn it into something interactive and creative with the help of tools provided by companies like Cemplicity.

This is just one of the examples of how you can infuse your research practices with a bit of creativity. How about using selfies to access research portals, capturing ad impressions data through SnapChat and adding Instagram photos taken by clients to research reports? In summary, we may not all be artists, but we can certainly be more creative researchers.