Stop Thinking With Half a Brain: Rediscover Your Creative Side

MH3 —  June 10, 2011

Delegates arriving at the presentation from Chuck Phillips and Kyle Romaniuk of Cocoon Branding were greeted with a single yellow slide reading: “Before we begin, write down as many uses for a paper clip as you can.” What followed was an interactive workshop with delegates getting hands-on tips on how to be creative and generate new ideas, which inspired creativity, allowed delegates to go home to foster a more creative working environment, and contributed to the development of a more creative world.

In addition to the paper clip brainstorm, delegates participated in a number of exercises to get the creativity flowing and their brains working. They formed into pairs and created one-minute portraits of their partner, which demonstrated how we’ve all been taught to be embarrassed about our creativity. At the end of the presentation, delegates got into groups to revisit the idea of the different uses of the paper clip, demonstrating that openness to new ideas and collaboration can lead to incredible creativity. These interactive exercises created a fun environment with lots of interaction between delegates.

Each of the delegates were given laser pointers, which Chuck and Kyle used to engage the audience and get  feedback throughout the presentation. For example, most of the delegates rated themselves on the higher end of a creative scale from 0-10, but many believe that their organizations are not performing at their creative peak, while ratings of creativity in the work environment were all across the scale.

The presentation was divided into four sections to guide delegates through discovering their creativity.

Why does creativity matter? Creativity pushes innovation and pushes companies to the next level. It can widen the competition gap much better than other techniques, like price drops, which can be easily matched. Creativity taps into emotions, and leads the decision-making process – 95% of decisions are actually made by the emotional brain. Ultimately, creativity can help protect or overtake the leadership position, create a higher impact, and improve your ROI.

Why is creativity such a challenge? People think of creativity as only belonging to artists or musicians, as something that we feel pressured to be as opposed to something that we should enjoy and all be natural at. They believe that everyone is born creative, but over time, we develop filters and barriers that limit our creativity. Why did this happen? We’ve become too entrenched in the way things are and have always been. “The new status quo should be challenging the status quo,” said Kyle Romaniuk.

How do we kill creativity? The devil’s advocate rule is one of the biggest killers of creativity, as it stifles the positive energy of creativity. Fear is the greatest barrier to creativity, especially the fear of appearing dumb or having your idea get rejected. “A lot of great stupid ideas… can lead to great ideas,” encouraged Chuck. Finally, placing too much weight on pre-conceived notions and the way things have always been done stifles creativity.

How do we inspire creativity? Divergent thinking allows you to see different routes to ideas and other ways to interpret the questions. Forget about your pre-conceived notions – free your mind and change the way you look at things. Design thinking takes everything from the current state and redesigns it to a better state – from manufacturing to accounting, every department can benefit from continuous improvement. Awareness of the outside world can help you go beyond your usual thinking, while collaborating and allowing team members to put on different “thinking hats” can inspire new ideas. Chuck and Kyle also recommend always limiting brainstorming sessions to under an hour, as the best ideas come out of short creative bursts.

Overall, this excellent workshop could be summed up with one quote from the presentation: “If you want to play in the game, then do what everyone else is doing. If you want to win, then you will have to change the game.”


Follow Chuck Phillips (@chuckcocoon), Kyle Romaniuk (@KyleRomaniuk) and Cocoon Branding (@CocoonBranding) on Twitter.