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Creativity for leaders

By Richard White – de Bono Accredited Trainer.

Leaders have opportunities to use creative thinking every day. Whether they’re making improvements, cutting costs or solving problems, they have to go beyond what has been done before. The constant need to do more for less demands creativity from us all.

Creativity – solely for R&D?

Many people see creative thinking as something that happens in marketing or R&D departments. They believe that only ‘creative’ people can do it and that us ordinary mortals should get on with good old-fashioned down-to-earth, practical thinking. Nothing could be further from the truth – we can all think creatively and we must do so if we are going to survive and flourish.

It’s important to understand that creative thinking is more than just generating ideas. Usually it’s a process that comprises some sort of definition and information gathering, followed by a period of coming up with ideas and finishing with assessment of which ideas will work or need adapting.

We don’t have time for that!

Most leaders are comfortable with the first and last stages. It’s the idea generation that causes problems in that it can take anything from a few seconds to many years, and we don’t have time for that! Creative people often train themselves to see things differently so that new ideas will come to mind more readily but, happily, for the rest of us there are tools and techniques to help us through this vital idea generation stage. Dr. Edward de Bono’s Lateral Thinking covers the whole process and includes four powerful tools for generating ideas.

Encourage from the top…

So, how can leaders encourage their people to be creative? The first thing is to set a good example: learn the techniques and use them and facilitate others using them. Then you can build a culture where creative thinking is fostered and celebrated. One key factor is to discourage criticism of ideas until you reach the assessment stage. Another Dr. de Bono method, the Six Thinking Hats®, helps with that by providing a structure for collaborative thinking.

Doing more for less is perfectly possible with the right people, the right culture and the right skills and techniques.

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More about Richard White
Richard White is a certified master trainer in Writing Dynamics™, Think on Your Feet®, The Skilled Presenter™ and Grammar on the Rocks™. He is also accredited to deliver Dr Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats®, Lateral Thinking and Power of Perception™.

He brings a wide range of practical business experience to his training. He has worked in a corporate environment as an engineer, before spending 15 years managing customer service, marketing and sales departments. He subsequently held a senior position on people development programmes in BT. His corporate career gave him both first-hand knowledge of day-to-day management issues and the opportunity to play a leading part in many cutting-edge projects.