David Kelley, the founder of IDEO and the Stanford D-School, and his brother, Tom Kelley, a partner at IDEO and the author of two innovation books, have just published a new book, Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All.
They make some provocative and suggestive assertions; here is my take on several of them.
Everyone has creative potential – everyone.
Creativity is not reserved for those few with the right genes. The key is to attain creative confidence, a belief that you are indeed creative and an optimistic way of looking at what is possible. That confidence comes in part from trying, doing, accepting failure and creating small successes.
One route to creative solutions is to focus on the end users of the innovation and the problems they are experiencing rather than on the “product,” technology or business model. The acclaimed designer of the MRI machine watched children struggle with the experience and redesigned the machine to be kid friendly. That requires not only empathy with the end-user but the ability to employ methods to access their perspectives and problems.
Creative solutions evolve.
A creative solution to a problem does not appear in final form. Rather, it evolves over time through the use of trial and error and a four-step process. The “design-driven innovation” process involves inspiration (proactively seeking experiences), syntheses (making sense, finding meaning), ideation and experimentation, and implementation.
Cultivate the creative spark.
Deliberately create contexts that will stimulate ideas. Think like a traveler using fresh eyes, find relaxed times (i.e. take a walk), observe in the field, ask “why” questions and reframe the challenge.
Take action, don’t worry about failing, build a prototype, try things out, find a doable piece of the project, experiment and launch to learn.
Find what you are passionate about.
It’s harder to be creative when you’re stuck in a box defined by pay, even if it’s something that you are good at. What if you only had two good years left? What would you work on?
A team that has the right people, the right charge, the right leadership and the right context can take creativity, its refinement and its implementation to a new level.
There are many more lessons to be learned, but the major message is that you can be creative. And there are practical ways to help you realize your creative confidence.