We all know (don’t we?) that the best way out of a creative rut is to do something different. To shake things up with some crazy music, a walk in the fresh air, a chat with a stranger in the lunch line. In work—and in life in general—we people tend to settle into our daily habits and patterns of thought. This gets us through our days, but it doesn’t stretch our creative muscles.
In the book Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All, authors David Kelley and Tom Kelley argue that if we want to label who we are or what we do “creative”, we need to move away from following familiar routes and instead explore new places in new ways. We need to ask smart questions, frame problems thoughtfully and act quickly, challenging ourselves to better our world with the best possible products, services and ideas. They show us how to move past our fear of the unknown and the assumptions we hold that stifle our creative confidence.
The Kelley brothers combined are a powerhouse of creativity. David Kelley is the creator the d.school: Institute of Design at Stanford University, a multi-discipline design school that focuses on innovation, collaboration and learning by doing. He’s also the founder of IDEO, a global innovation and design firm. Tom Kelley is a leading innovation speaker, as well as a partner at IDEO and the author of The Art of Innovation and The Ten Faces of Innovation. They’re veterans in the field of creativity, and they have some great stories to share.
Their book is full of anecdotal accounts of people who have overcome barriers to success by exercising creativity and design-driven innovation. It examines both solo work and group dynamics, with suggestions on how to collaborate effectively across disciplines and build a strong creative culture in your workplace. There are tons of practical tips, from “how to best observe and understand human behaviours” to “how to prototype a service in half an hour or less”.
David and Tom proclaim with gusto that everyone is creative, and our creativity truly is like a muscle that can be strengthened with practice. Working that muscle —growing stronger and more flexible with practices outlined in this book—is what will help us leap out of the rut of routine and into the space opened by inspiration, innovation and action. And it’s in this space that we realize our potential and change the world around us.