The key to being more creative and innovative

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Curiosity is a muscle, and that muscle needs to be exercised if you want to be more innovative or do creative work. But as with anything that needs to be developed or worked on, most of us look for shortcuts. From training to productivity tools to grocery shopping…we’re all drawn to time-saving hacks that offer quick results and immediate solutions.

This can happen in creative work when we look for shortcuts or try to speed up the process by drawing inspiration from design galleries or other people’s websites. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with your team members trying to optimize their time by turning elsewhere for inspiration. Your team should be doing that frequently.

but if that is everybody they are doing, if they rely solely on inspiration from the work of others, then they are stunting the growth of their curiosity. Without a well-developed sense of curiosity, they will not be able to become the brilliant creatives they are meant to be.

Related: How to Get Your Employees More Creative at Work

Explore outside your industry

By developing your curiosity muscle, you will not only be able to ask deeper and more meaningful questions, but also come up with ideas more quickly. How is that muscle developed? By learning new things. Proactively. You can build that muscle even more successfully by learning things you’re unfamiliar with and even exploring ideas you may be uncomfortable with.

Don’t limit your learning and exploration to ideas directly related to your work. Get out of your industry to learn new things.

A designer might cultivate his or her curiosity by learning to bake and studying why yeast makes bread rise, why a second proofing makes a better loaf, and how yeast, baking soda, and baking powder are all agents. leavening but require very different conditions to cause them. baked goods to rise.

If you’re a nonprofit executive, you might explore why Six Sigma tools, techniques, and strategies are important in manufacturing. You could study processes like the Toyota Production System or the Five Whys technique. Or you could explore how things are related in different ecosystems. The point is to expand your curiosity across a variety of disciplines.

The best kept secret of creativity

So why does your creative muscle care? Why bother spending so much time and effort learning ideas so far removed from your creative efforts? It’s about getting your representatives involved.

We live in a world that offers endless opportunities to reflect, discover and investigate ideas. And every time you take advantage of one of those opportunities, you develop your curiosity. And perhaps most importantly, it creates a deeper well of experience to tap into. By absorbing all that new information, you have a broader set of ideas to apply to your current challenges and repeat. That is the best kept secret to cultivate creativity and innovation.

Related: The 9 Steps That Will Help You Learn Anything

3 questions to cultivate your curiosity

So how can you and your team develop that muscle of curiosity to grow in creativity and innovation? Use these three questions to guide you forward as your curiosity grows:

  1. “Am I learning something new?” It’s a pretty common question, right? Most people ask themselves this question a couple of times a year when they are feeling reflective and introspective. But that is not enough. The most successful creatives ask themselves this question every day. Whether they’re trying to learn something big over time or just exposing themselves to new ideas, they’re exercising their sense of curiosity about the world every day. Right now, go to your calendar and set aside 15 minutes every day to focus on learning something new.

  2. “Am I discovering something new about a topic I already know?” Stay in your career long enough and you’ll reach a point where you feel like you know a lot. It’s a great feeling, isn’t it? But don’t feel comfortable there. Develop the mindset that no matter how knowledgeable you may be, there is always more to learn. Maintain an ongoing and ever-growing list of ideas and topics within your industry that you want to grow in. If this is a struggle for you, ask your peers about their career paths and the knowledge gaps they had to overcome.

  3. “And yes…?” and why not…?” To really crank up your creative muscle, you need to use prompts like: “What if…?”, “Why not…?”, “I wonder…” and “What’s stopping us from …?” Be the person who always questions ideas and strategies. The point is not to go against it, but to cultivate the curiosity your team needs to drive innovation.

Related: 3 Ways to Unleash Your Creativity

If you’ve ever felt limited in your creativity, asking yourself the questions above will help you do something about it. And if you’ve thought that you’re just not creative, well, stop. Because you they can get more creative. Cultivate your curiosity and you will begin to produce more creative and innovative ideas.

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