Driving Creativity

I was looking around the blogosphere today and ran across this excellent post on driving creativity by Mark Suster.  Mark has been an entrepreneur two times and has now transitioned into the VC arena.  I thought that this would be an excellent read for those of you that are looking to find that creative “spark” for your Imagine Cup projects or any other endeavor that you are working on.

Here is the executive summary directly from Mark’s blog:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: This is a long post, so I put an executive summary here if you want to get the point without reading all the detail. If you plan to read the post you can skip the summary if you want.

  • Almost all business success relies on creativity. This applies equally to VCs, startups & big company executives
  • Despite the importance of creativity, there seems to be almost no focus on teaching it, encouraging it, training at it & incorporating it into our daily routines. The need for creativity extends well beyond product design.
  • Many people are visual thinkers. Therefore to drive creativity people need to do visual brainstorming
  • You need to find what works for you to put yourself in that environment and learn how to do “self talk,” learn how to create visual charts, learn how to test & iterate ideas and the learn how to effectively communicate results.
  • For me I can only do this by myself. I think team sessions are better for testing ideas than for original thought, but that’s me. Solitude & creativity go hand-in-hand.
  • I use tools to invoke my creatieve self.  One example is driving, which has an actual physiological reason it makes you creative. The key is channeling what you learn when you drive onto paper for retention purposes so you have to write it down soon afterward
  • One of the books that first made me aware of the “creative brain” was “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards.  It’s a book about creating art but shows how an artist’s mind gets “into the zone,” how creativity can be invoked, and why looking at what you create in a different way than the rational mind would conceive is an important part of creativity.  She literally encourages you to draw things upside down.
  • Other ways I drive creativity are time pressure, showers & occasionally wine. All are known creativity drivers and are covered in the book mentioned above.  For others they swear by music.  I personally find music more distracting than helpful.
  • Adding structure to creativity is not an oxymoron. It’s how you codify your ideas
  • Like anything, creativity takes practice.  There’s no such thing as “not being a creative person.”  Some people are more creative than others but it’s within us all.  You just have to dedicate yourself to a wanting to tap your creative juices.
  • I apply visual thinking for nearly everything I do: preparing for important phone calls (I imagine my opening lines, I imagine the responses), writing keynote presentations, deciding whether or not to invest in a company, preparing for board meetings – you name it.  These are all creative processes.
  • Visualization is a well known technique in professional sports where the difference between winning & losing is often psychological more than physical.  If it can work for them, it can work for you.

While this gives you the basic idea of the post, I would suggest that you read Mark’s entire blog at http://techcrunch.com/2011/01/17/how-i-use-visualization-to-drive-creativity/.  I hope that it helps you to drive your own creativity.


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