It’s time to brainstorm. You’ve assembled a top-notch team, everyone’s up to date with the background information and project briefs, your key objectives are clearly outlined, and you’re in a comfortable, idea-spawning environment, this should be a breeze. Three, two, one… BE CREATIVE!
If only it were that easy. Even the most renowned and educated thinkers aren’t immune to the occasional creative stalemate. From painters and writers to physicists and engineers, at some point we all hit our own mental roadblocks.
So, how do you break through? Heeding the words of Pablo Picasso, one of history’s most artistic and creative minds, is a great place to start.
“You have to have an idea of what you are going to do, but it should be a vague idea.”
Toss out all preconceived notions and focus on the core objectives. If you’re thinking in a presupposed state of mind, it will be harder to breakout into more abstract thought. Instead, you’ll likely spend more time trying to make your initial ideas fit into a mold that may constantly be changing.
“Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.”
What could you create if there were no constraints? Let your mind go wild – there are no bad ideas at this point in the creative process. And once you have put every outlandish scheme you could possibly come up with to paper, set it all aside for a few hours or even days. When you revisit the concepts with a fresh mind, you may be able to whittle down the off-the-wall ideas into a new, innovative approach to the project at hand.
“There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence transform a yellow spot into sun.”
Attack creativity from every angle. Up, down, left, and right. There’s always new perspective to be gained, you just have to keep an open mind and take a look at the problem from a different view. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Or have someone stand in yours. What may seem like just a “yellow spot” to some, could easily be a bright idea to another.
“The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.”
Sometimes you just have to start from square one. Toss every dead end or weak idea aside and start from scratch. It’s easy to get stuck heading down a path that may or may not have an end. Take a break, clear your head, and then start from the very beginning. The age-old idiom about forcing a square peg into a round hole sums it up most succinctly – if your ideas don’t fit, you shouldn’t try to force them.
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
Even in the most corporate settings, there’s nothing wrong with introducing some kid logic into a road-blocked brainstorm session. How would a child get from point A to point B? You may find that you have been overcomplicating the process and need to distance yourself from your lifetime of experience and know-how to take a simpler approach. It’s often surprising how far a little naivety can go.
How do you break through your mental road blocks? What do you do to gain new perspective on old problems? Let us know in the comments section below.