Innovation

5 Ways to Innovate for Self-Proclaimed Non-Creatives

In today's world, we increasingly need innovative solutions to solve the problems of society. However, for those who constantly tell themselves that they aren't creative, coming up with innovative solutions can seem impossible. The truth is that perceived creativity and innovation can be learned by practicing some relatively simple ways of thinking.

Method 1: Trial & Error.

Simply put, try and fail even if you know that you won't get the answer or polished outcome that you want. But after you fail, you need to analyze your attempt. Identify something that is wrong with what you did and correct that one thing. Your product won't be perfect so you would then repeat the process of identifying an issue and correcting that one issue. If you break it into solving one manageable problem at a time, then it makes this method much more digestible. Trying to focus on a lot of problems at one time will only feel overwhelming. 

Your mindset going into this is VERY important. If you go into a project with the mindset that you are going to only try once and if it doesn't work, you'll give up, then you won't get very far. Start with the mindset that you won't get thing right on the first attempt. This frees you a bit from the dread of making mistakes. Writing a book? Write a draft that you're not happy with, then make a few revisions. The end result likely won't be a great draft, but that gives you a  new and better starting point. The more you repeat the process of failing forward, the better the subsequent iterations will be and the closer you get to a product that is new and you're proud to put your name on.

Method 2: Brainstorm.

Write out all of your ideas on a particular topic. A brain dump if you will. It's likely that once your mind has exhausted all initial possibilities that none will be particularly innovative. If it's the first thing that comes to your mind, then it is likely the first thing on the minds of others as well. The trick is to hold onto this list, but keep the problem in your head. At some point inspiration will hit and you'll have a flood of new ideas to write out. Walk away from the brainstorming for hours or days (different for everyone) and come back to it fresh if you need to.

Also, you can throw your problem/question out to a group and have others pitch their ideas. You'll never know when someone could say something that sparks a new idea in your own head.

Method 3: Find the Bridges.

Let's say that you have come up with a subpar idea for a particular problem. If your solution does not work very well, don't throw it out. Hold on to it. It could be the solution for a problem that you have not even thought of or realized yet. Find the bridge to this new problem or start working on something else and let the problem come to you, but don't discard creative solutions just because you can't immediately think of the problem that it truly solves.

Method 4: Past-Present-Future.

Study how a particular solution in your industry came into existence. What problem were the inventors trying to solve for the end-user? Is the solution still a good one or does it come with it's own challenges? What is the next logical extension of this product in future generations? When you follow the progression of how a product came to being, you are better equipped to imagine where it could go into the future.

Method 5: Meditation.

In such a fast-paced society it is harder and harder to concentrate and focus on what is important. It's increasingly important that we learn to slow down our lives and minds on a regular basis.

There are many studies on meditation and the human body; particularly the brain. Relaxation and different techniques allow the brain to give off different brain waves. The ones achieved through proper meditation are correlated to having "ah ha" moments of insight and inspiration. The trick is, however, that you must first have a clear and specific problem defined in your mind. Other relaxation states reported are going for walks, showers, and the moments right before falling asleep and upon waking up. 

Overall, realize that you can innovate just like others as long as you are willing to change your mindset and approach to the problem. Everyone begins from a different starting point so don't be discouraged by the progress of others. Focus on your situation and build the discipline required to follow through on your strategy even when you're not in the mood. If you can build one of the above methods into a positive habit, then you will be well on your way to developing an innovative idea.

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