Facilitating the Individual Creative Process in the Workplace

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson goes over the many ways you can improve your individual creativity in the workplace. We'll cover tips and tricks for each stage of the creative process.

The Five Stages of the Creative Process

It's easy to say that some of the best minds in history were also the most creative. But how do you actually do creativity? Is it something you are born with or is it something you can harness?

In this lesson, we're going to go over some pointers on how you can, indeed, improve your creativity using the five stages of the creative process:

  1. Preparation
  2. Incubation
  3. Insight
  4. Evaluation
  5. Elaboration

Preparation

Let's start with preparation, which is the stage where a person is consciously immersing themselves in, and working on, a problem. For example, if you are an equity research analyst, you might be immersing yourself in the financial details of a company.

Some tips and tricks on how best to utilize the preparation stage of creativity include:

  • Working in a quiet environment so you can soak in as much information as possible. So, yes, turn off the phone and sign out of Facebook.
  • Consciously appreciating the problems and challenges you face and must therefore overcome. A mind map could help here.
  • Putting in deliberate and conscious effort toward gathering as much of the information you need to help solve a challenge. This means you might need to throw heuristics out of the window if you must be extremely accurate.

Incubation and Insight

The next part of the creative process is incubation and insight, the part where you let all of the info and realizations gathered during the preparation phase simmer in the back of your brain before new ideas start coming to the front of your brain. These two stages can take days or even months, depending on the task at hand.

The key with the incubation and insight stages is not to force things. In fact, the best way to take advantage of your brain's creative processes during this time is to focus on something else:

  • Move on to another piece of work
  • Stop working all together; take a nap
  • Go for a quiet walk or take a shower
  • Hang out with friends

This seems counterintuitive in the world of logic, productivity, and objectivity but in the world of creativity, taking your mind off of things is absolutely critical to coming up with ideas out of the blue.

To reiterate: taking your mind off of things could mean moving on to another unrelated task/preparatory stage or not working on anything whatsoever. There is no set rule here; do what works best for you.

Evaluation

Next up is the evaluation stage, which is when we select the best ideas that came to us. See, creativity is more than just coming up with an idea. It's about evaluating whether or not the idea is new, useful, or practical.

Like the preparatory stage, the evaluation stage is completely conscious in nature and so take advantage of it by:

  • Writing down the ideas that come to you. Always carry a pen and paper with you because these flashes of insights can come out of nowhere and are just as easy to forget. So write them down immediately!
  • Learning to be self-critical. Not all of your ideas will be great so assess them honestly.
  • Comparing the ideas for usefulness, practicality, and constraints like your time or expertise.

Elaboration

Finally, we get to the elaborations stage of the creative process. Elaboration refers to the time we spend experimenting with an idea. It's not enough to just come up with an idea and select it. It's also important to see if that genius creative spark of yours was actually right!

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