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  • Dr. Christine Senn, PhD

Foster Creativity in Any Business

My guess is that you have more aptitude for creativity than you think. For the longest time, I thought that I was not a creative person because I don’t sing, or at least, don’t think you’d necessarily want to hear it. I don't draw well, and I don't do a lot of visual arts particularly well. However, there is huge creativity in bringing together solutions for people in business. So, I thought I’d talk about what creativity is and the process of it, and how you can improve it or think through it. I also have one practical tip on how you can improve your creativity in your business, whether it's in the creative arts like marketing, or anything else. Let’s start with the definition of creativity: a phenomenon whereby something new and valuable is formed.


See, it can be a concept, or it could be a tangible object, whatever it is. The very first step is preparation. I do think that sometimes we get stuck in our jobs and don't always think about the preparation very much. On the other hand, you can get stuck in preparation. There is a sweet spot in this one: where you are orienting to the problem. You're purposefully studying, you're acquiring and, and assimilating facts and knowledge. You're really learning. In a marketing example, let's say you're a marketing company and you have a new trial coming up in an indication you've never done before, like blood clot therapy. Now you must learn the protocol to understand who's included and excluded in the study. You get a sense of it. You must learn why people get blood clots, so you can understand that target population, right?


So in these preparations, you're really learning what you need in order to speak to somebody and be a successful marketer. You need to really understand how to drive your population to the ad. For a clinical site marketing example, maybe you want to start a new line of business in your company. It might be starting decentralized clinical trials or DCTs. It could be starting a new department or perhaps starting vaccine trials you hadn't done before. It doesn't really matter what the business is-- it's a new line of business. The preparation stage might include interviewing other people who do those things, researching it online, looking to see how it looks in terms of structure, staffing, and processes. This brings us to the next stage with another practical tip.


The next stage is incubation, which is like the germination stage of something where you let it sit. This is a hard step for people because they don't always like to let it sit. But without that, you can move ahead without having thought through or assimilating all the needed knowledge. Some of the research shows that when you sleep, your thought processes and memory consolidate, and begin to really stick with you, help you begin forming new thoughts. At the incubation stage, basically your studying is complete. There's nothing more you can do and you have to set aside the whole thing and wait for inspiration. In his book, the Art of Thought, Graham Wallace said that it's better to work on several projects and move back and forth.


Let's say you're working on a clinical trial ad or even something bigger, like starting a new line of business. You don't go for a walk and call that the incubation period, or sleep on it just for one night. Wallace says that it's better to just forget that project for some time and move on to another project. And eventually, an a-ha moment will come. This means that you would always have various projects going on at the same time because most projects have differing preparation and incubation periods. Perhaps preparing a trial ad only takes a couple of days, yet a new line of business could take a couple of months. By always having different projects you can go to, you can feel out which one is the right one for that moment.


After these processes take place, you have illumination. This is where inspirations flash through your mind. There are often bursts of inspiration, and although you’ve heard the information before, now you're bringing it into your idea, and this is where you start producing. In the marketing example, you're now thinking like the person who might have a blood clot, or who might be prone to getting a blood clot, or the person who already has a blood clot. You start thinking of visually compelling graphics and copywriting, and you work on a first draft of the marketing plan. In the example of the new line of business, you have ideas for staffing and patient flow, so you bring together the managers and present the idea and the initial plan. That's the illumination.


The very last one is verification. This is rethinking things so that the new idea is revised and improved. For the marketing example, you might bring the ad and review it yourself over a few days to see if you really think it speaks to the target audience. You might bring it to a marketing team. In the example of a new line of business, you're working through the process and the plan with the team to make it viable. Now, after that, you get to process improvement, but that's more onto the operational realm. The creativity process is really thought to be these four steps.


I hope that helps you see how creative you are, whether you're in marketing, starting a new business, expanding your own business, or anything in your life where creativity is needed. How can you creatively think of new ways to generate happiness and satisfaction in your life.


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