Creativity is unlearned
"Wherever creativity goes - and, by extension, wherever talent goes - innovation and economic growth are sure to follow." (Harvard Business Review).
Creativity in your day-to-day job is not the sole preserve of the graphic designer, artist or ‘mad inventor’.
In order to unleash our creativity, we first need to realise that it's a skill we already have, not something new that we need to learn. A well-known study by Dr. George Land (author of Grow or Die) applied a standard creativity test used by NASA, to a sample of 1600 five year old children, and found that a staggering 98% of them scored at the 'highly creative' level. This figure fell to 30% and 12% aged ten and fifteen respectively - and in a separate sample of twenty-five year olds only 2% scored at the higher level.
This is not just a shame, it’s a major and relevant problem. In a recent survey (July 2011) 81% of knowledge workers perceived that the level of creativity required in their jobs has increased in the last five years (Chuck Frey, mindmappingsoftwareblog.com).
Creativity in the workplace
How can we access our creativity in the workplace?
Well, creativity is a function of how we think, yet relatively few of us routinely use tools to support our thought process. That's where mind mapping software comes in. Mind maps, first described by Tony Buzan in the 1970s, are a means of capturing, inspiring and organising thoughts around a central concept. Mind maps are particularly powerful because they allow us to escape the formulaic, linear nature of text (left to right, top to bottom) in favour of a method that better supports the way our brains work. This 'radiant thinking' tool allows us to exploit the best of left-brained (analytical, logical, detailed) and right brained (classically creative, associative, intuitive, artistic) biases. The characteristic use of colour and images makes the content of a well-made mind map a good deal more memorable than text alone, too.
Does mind mapping aid productivity as well as creativity?
It doesn't take much of a leap to imagine how learning to generate better thoughts and ideas, more quickly, leads to increased productivity. Furthermore, electronic mind maps can be converted into conventional documents with a few mouse-clicks. This means that you can do your 'thinking' in a thinking tool, and reserve your word processing software for its intended purpose only - the fitting and finishing of documentation (it was never invented as a thinking tool).
How can I get started with mind mapping?
The good news is that mind mapping software is one of the easiest tools to learn, and it's readily available. Some packages are free, and other (richly-featured) titles you will have to pay for (but are typically available on a free trial basis). Do a web-search for 'mind mapping software'. Getting started with mind mapping is simple and effective way to shine at work and get ahead in your career. Try using it for planning and creating documentation, writing your CV, managing projects, getting to grips with complex concepts and taking meeting notes.