Is creativity about the number of ideas we create or the quality of ideas we create?
My favorite and the simplest answer comes from Linus Pauling, a two-time Nobel laureate, who said,
The best way to get a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.
When solving problems, we often settle on our default solution or the first good solution we find, possibly missing out on a lot of fun, new perspectives, and opportunities. In contrast, creative thinking is about exploring the many “happily-ever-afters” rather than chasing after the “right” answer.
Exploring multiple ideas makes me understand the problem and solution space better, opens up my mind, and makes me feel less stressed.
Also, the more ideas we create or try out, the more novel our ideas. This is why we begin the Creative UXR course with an exercise for creating many ideas. Here’s a simple example:
Many ways of presenting a customer journey
We were going to present the results of a study where we had mapped a customer journey based on diary studies and interviews.
The default way of presenting the insights would be walking the team through the customer journey by presenting it from the computer.
After I had written down my default answer, I asked myself: What else could we do? Here are some of the possibilities that came to mind:
Why should we think about many happy ends?
This was a delightful way to exercise my creative muscles. Whether these ideas are feasible or not is the next step but just listing them out already has advantages:
And this is how creativity enables joyful ways of thinking and makes our world bigger than the keyhole we might be looking through.
Your turn now. Wherever you want to be creative, think of more than one idea for the problem/project you are working on right now.
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