Creativity will be the 3rd most crucial skill in the workplace in 2020, vaulting in importance from 10th position in 2015 – World Economic Forum
Look around you, what do you see?…
If you were me, I see the laptop that I’m typing in, my pillow, my phone, the yellow painted walls… the list goes on. All these things didn’t exist at one point in time in the past. Where did it all come from?
Almost everything you see and experience around you in the modern world is a result of Human Creativity. Creativity in manufacturing, art, literature, music, humour, and virtually every other field of activity.
What do you mean by the term “Creativity”?
The most convincing definition I’ve come across yet is:
Creativity is an imaginative process that results in an outcome that is original and useful.
Is Creativity something that only a few chosen one’s posses?
No, every human is creative. It is an integral part of being human and is a process that can be learned and mastered. However, the outcome of the process has to be unique and of use to someone, to call it a Creative outcome.
Well then, How do you learn to be “Creative”?
A common belief is that your left half of the brain is responsible for logic and your right half of the brain is responsible for creativity. However, current studies have proven that creativity isn’t the actions of some particular side of a brain but a combination of brain networks that fire at different instances.
For creativity, we primarily deal with 3 such networks.
- The Executive Attention Network (EAN)
- The Default Network (DN)
- The Salience Network (SN)
I know I know, they sound scary. But trust me, when you’re done with this article you’ll be even more curious about these Networks 🙂
Now all you need to do is activate these three different networks of your brain at different intervals.
How do you do that?
Read on, and you’ll find out…
To find a solution, you need a problem in the first place. Find your problem, no matter who you may be, a housewife, an engineer, a designer or a business person. Then follow these three steps.
Creativity starts with the Executive Attention Network (EAN).
The Executive Attention Network starts with deliberate focus. Sit down and concentrate on the problem you want to solve.
Many a time we tend to focus more on finding a solution to the question at hand rather than asking more questions.
To use the EAN effectively, you need to make sure you are asking the right question/s.
Every time you get a problem, think of various versions of the same question. For example, let’s say you are a Business person and you have a problem.
Problem: Your employees are not productive enough.
The question at hand is “How to increase employee productivity?”. Instead of looming around this question, you might ask more questions such as “How do I make work, fun for employees?” and “What do employees aim to achieve from working here?” or “How can I make the office atmosphere more encouraging?”
One of your new questions will likely be a better one than the initial one.
Key takeaway: When you are trying to solve a problem, start with asking the right questions. Don’t assume that the question at hand is the best one. Give your executive attention the best question/s to focus on.
Now that you’ve given your EAN, the “Right Question/s” to munch on, it is time to activate the Default Network (DN)
You are at work after lunch. 5 min in and you find yourself staring into space, thinking about nothing in particular. At this point, you would think that your brain is resting.
However, your brain is as active as ever and sometimes even more active than usual. This happens when your brain’s Default Network is Activated. (It is also how this network got its name: “Default” referring to the default state that you are in when you are particularly doing nothing).
It is during this time that we maybe daydreaming, recalling memories, envisioning the future, monitoring the environment, thinking about the intentions of others, run simulations and so on.
“I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” — Mark Twain
That was Mark Twain’s Default Network in action.
Once you’ve set a question for your EAN to solve, your DN then runs through alternatives to the problem you are trying to solve.
But, your DN and EAN don’t work together. Meaning, one has to be turned off for the other to start.
You can turn off your EAN by just stopping to think of the problem. Take a warm bath or listen to your favourite music or do the dishes. Do something that doesn’t require your concentration.
Now that your EAN is turned off, your DN can get to work looking for ideas and connections.
Key takeaway: Step 2 is to step away from the problem at hand and let your Default Network do the job for you.
You’ve been working on a problem, discussing and brainstorming. After a tough day at work, you go for a walk, or a toilet break, and suddenly you go AHA!!!
At this moment everything becomes so clear, and the solution comes to you effortlessly.
This is the 3rd and final step to creativity, and this is your brains Salience Network (SN) at work.
Unlike your Executive Attention Network and Default Network that works at particular intervals, the Salience Network works continuously, behind the scenes.
The SN monitors the data collected by your EAN, and the iterations made by your DN. It then mixes and matches the information from both the systems to find patterns and make connections. The Salience Network then decides which information deserves our attention.
Once the Salience Network feels like it has got something useful, it brings it to the notice of your consciousness (EAN), and that is the “AHA!!!” moment.
Fun fact: It takes approximately 6 secs for you to be conscious of an idea after the idea has been created in the brain.
Key Takeaway: There is nothing much you can consciously do here. Just be receptive to ideas when they come in. The Salience Network works best if you’ve asked a clear question to your EAN and then later step away, for your DN to run simulations.
To summarise the 3 steps:
There you go. Hope this helps you unleash your creative side 😀