There is plenty written on how creativity gets you to the new idea, and innovation gets you to the invention, execution, or application. But why are there still so many who assume that creativity belongs to the “artsy,” and not the technologists.
Die-hard, hard core, brainy-type folks often refuse the notion of being creative. They are afraid that being artsy or imaginative will tarnish their reputation. So they keep their heads down, speak in data, and steadfastly maintain their status as the “problem solvers.”
On the other hand, there are unmistakable artsy types who don’t want to be seen as traditional or logical. They are afraid of inhibiting their renown as free thinking and unique. So they keep their focus high, or far, they carry a sketch pad, and whistle a lot. They maintain their status as problem solvers who are clever and surprising.
Yet, the funny thing is, they are both problem solvers, and without them both, life as we know it, would be dramatically different. In fact, the world works so well because of the wonderful things that happen when creativity and innovation collide. When brainiacs and creatives unite. Think Liquid Paper. Think Pixar. Think Oculus Rift.
As you start or grow your business and you need a new product, process, service, or strategy, or an old one needs improvement, be bold and be diverse. Gather all the talents from your pool. Whether staff, mentors, interns or board members; the pocket protectors or the silly putties; the biologist or the watercolorist, bring them together. Give them the problem, a time limit, lots of coffee, and ask for their best collaborated ideas. Be prepared, you may be met with harrumphing and eye rolling.
But just talk to the group about the importance of brainiacs discovering and embracing their creativity, and creatives discovering and embracing their literal side. Ask them to discuss the term “brainchild.” Ask them to list their favorite inventions and discuss how science and imagination worked together? Let them know that great innovations come from teams that trust, and trust can evolve more easily when you step outside of your comfort zones and interact with folks who do not typically sit at your lunch table.
If an awkward feeling pervades, and it may, even after some initial ice breakers, and more coffee, invite the brainiacs to do strategic doodling; invite the creatives to do brain teasers. Have them work in teams, side by side, watch one another, and then help one another. Once both sides of everybody’s brains are warmed up, and wound up, let the fireworks begin.
And while it probably won’t be necessary, remind them that ideas are just the first step. Next challenge, make it real. Chances are they’ll be a step ahead of you.