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How to unlock your creativity and share your ideas

The art may differ, but the artist remains

“DIFFUSION: Sketch Thinking” —

I always wanted to be an artist, I always wanted to draw. My UK high school came with a choice between a focus on drawing, pottery, sculpture, and any number of options and I was immediately drawn to the drawing class. Pun intended ;-)

“My friend Rylan” — Raj Hayer, Victoria, Canada 1994

The epitome of my talent was this line sketch of a friend lying on the floor in my apartment and I still love that I have it as a reminder of him, though we have long since lost touch. As you can see it is not particularly impressive — especially the disproportionate leg length! — but it was a creative outlet and that is what I needed!

. . .

To this day I am prone to admire creative types by default — probably because I wish I were one of them! Whether they are chefs specialising in nutrition or artisanal food, visual artists, photographers, videographers, modern artists, or the graphic designers of the world, the architects, the carpenters — I am drawn to them all.

I never really felt I was one of them though, and over 26 years of office work convinced me I could be categorised as organised, structured, logical, and even more seemingly boring descriptors…but not creative.

Then one day someone said “wow, you are so creative” and I felt like it was the most beautiful compliment in the world! Though, for the life of me, I couldn’t understand why or how they came to that conclusion.

Are we all creative types?

Turns out that creativity is not just for the “artists” of the world. Creativity, just like ideation and innovation, is a prerogative for all of us. Creativity can show up in all manner of ways, and creative problem solving is a creative tool many a manager can use. Solutions can be innovative and impactful. Even accounting can be creative, but ahem, that’s not always legal.

So how do we unleash our creativity?

In my desire to become creative I came across the book The Artist’s Way by Julie Cameron. Originally written as self-help book for people on an artistic recovery, it includes tips to unlocking creativity and gaining self-confidence. Simple tools like the “morning pages” help individuals to spill all their random and distractingly logical thoughts on to the pages, and thus enables them to make space for more ideation and innovation.

My colleague, Steven Mc Auley, unleashed his creativity with the book “Sketch Thinking”, but sketch thinking can have unexpected and wholly astonishing results.

Draw for diversity

Words can be deceptive. We think we are explaining ourselves in a clear fashion but words mean different things to different people. Words are prone to error, to misinterpretation, and often mean something different to each person involved. We often talk past each other, we think that we are being clear, but it’s not clear to everyone.

“Art is a mediator of the unspeakable.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

For example what does “strategic plan” mean? Different things to different people I’m certain.

  • The M&A lead thinks it’s focus is expansion and growth

  • The IT Manager think it means a technology strategy

  • The Marketing Manager thinks it means a marketing campaign

  • The CEO thinks it means all of the above, and so on…

To transcend cultural and global diversity, have you thought of drawing the solution? It seems that expressing a thought, an idea, a solution, is simpler to do in a quick drawing. Imagine pulling out a drawing rather than a 12 page PowerPoint presentation; sketching the solution on the whiteboard, rather than discussing it.

Be memorable

International teams, and progressively virtual meetings, are more common, but PowerPoints and words are overused and overdone. Be memorable, find a new way to express your ideas, all it takes is a little practice. I mean stick figures can still represent people but it’s not always easy to express an idea in drawing ether, without a little practice.

“Sketch Thinking” — Jose Berengueres


  • How can you express the term cold?

  • Do you mean like an ice cube?

  • Do you mean a person feelings cold?

  • Do you mean a person who is cold in personality?

Innovation is about one person solving a problem for another person. If we consider people in each step of the equation then people will relate to the solution and have a feeling about it, that they will remember. Consider this at every opportunity “What does that mean to someone?”

“Common understanding is the basis of innovation!” — Steven Mc Auley

Don’t say it, sketch it!

Find your own way to unleash your creativity, your ideations, your innovation, any way you can. Then present it to your colleagues at the next in-person or virtual meeting, use a physical or digital whiteboard and sketch your question or solution.

You and your colleagues will be surprised by the incredible results and how it opens the door for collaboration and discussion!

. . .

Instagram: TinyBox| Image Design: Rat Design

Interested in the other challenges? Order the Innovators Journal here.

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