How to Tap Your Creative Side to Solve Your Biggest Work Problems

Creativity is not limited to people who can dance, paint, and do graphic design. When we are able to think of a solution to a problem, that means we are able to create something of value. We can be artists.

Seth Godin, in his book “Linchpin” sheds light to what I mean. He defines what an artist is, in the following:

“What makes someone an artist? I don't think is has anything to do with a paintbrush. There are painters who follow the numbers, or paint billboards, or work in a small village in China, painting reproductions. These folks, while swell people, aren't artists. On the other hand, Charlie Chaplin was an artist, beyond a doubt. So is Jonathan Ive, who designed the iPod.”

He further says: 

“You can be an artist who works with oil paints or marble, sure. But there are artists who work with numbers, business models, and customer conversations. Art is about intent and communication, not substances.

So, how do we tap our creative or artistic side to solve our problems? I have 3 proposals:

  1. Develop the art of communication

Many big work problems are caused by a lack of communication.  In any business or endeavor, being able to communicate your intentions properly is key to a good reception of instruction or direction. Review your message and choose the right channel to deliver it. Some messages are best communicated verbally or face to face, and some through a memo for clarity of details.

Other messages can be blasted in social media if it’s a marketing campaign, while some are best channeled through text messaging for immediate reception. What is also important in the art of communication is weighing the effect of what has been communicated, by way of feedback. It takes creativity to be able to compose a message that will make a positive impact. Be a creative communicator.

  1. Develop the art of innovation

If we are stuck with the problem of stunted growth (no significant progress), whether as a business or an organization, we may be faced with the need for innovation.

Daniel Pink has this insight  on Innovation:

“Over the years, social scientists have found that abstract thinking leads to greater creativity. That means that if we care about innovation, we need to be more abstract and therefore more distant. But in our businesses and our lives, we often do the opposite. We intensify our focus rather than widen our view. We draw closer rather than step back.”

Let us step back and ask ourselves, “What’s wrong with this picture?” That’s why it’s always to good to have a planning session outside of the office, like a place with a mountain view. It removes us from our usual environment and we can start to notice the things that are hindering progress.

We can also step back by immersing ourselves with other similar situations and see how other groups are handling a problem like ours. Creativity requires a wide view so we can see things from the right perspective.

  1. Develop the art of caring

When members or workers think and feel that their leaders don’t care, it's a big problem. This causes dissent and it’s a major energy leak in the work productivity of a company.  Caring is an art. It needs sensitivity, development, and mastery. Be sensitive to the needs of your people – and address them as soon as possible.

Develop the relationships within your team and make sure that they don’t compete, but complement; that they work with each other, not against each other. Master the personalities of your team members and your leaders.

What's important to them?
What makes them happy?
What disappoints them?

Know them more, so you can work better with them. As they say, "different strokes for different folks." It’s vital to have a caring environment – it makes people stay, beyond monetary compensation. If you care for them, they will care for your goals.

Jesus communicated, innovated, and cared. His sermon on the mount communicated a counter idea:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit . . . blessed are the humble . . . blessed are the merciful . . .”

It expressed contrast of the views of being “blessed” in his time. While many of the Romans, Pharisees and Sadducees were proud and self-righteous, Jesus exhorted the people about humility and service.

His message was different (or innovative), but spoke of the truth. Jesus cared, that He made sure the multitudes (5,000 people not counting women and children) were fed:

"My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, for they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, for fear they may collapse on the way" (Mt. 15:13).

Be an artist of communication, innovation, and caring. Be creative. We, after all, are made after the image and likeness of our Creator.

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