Where does innovation come from and what creates creativity? We have all experienced moments of genuine creativity. Moments where our minds are firing in lateral ways, connecting dots that had previously been unconnected.
Innovation is about the new. This includes doing new things and doing existing things in new ways. Innovation implies better. One does not innovate a less efficient way to do something. Innovation also implies the future. Business, and especially the startup community, is focused on innovation as a means to improve the global condition. To founders and CEOs, it is a means of both contribution and financial success.
But where does innovation come from? Many state that it comes from applied creativity. This makes sense, but leads to the question of what ignites creativity?
In his 2008 Ted Talk, Dr. Stuart Brown illuminates on how play is the source of creativity and mental health. He mentions different types of play just as social play, hands-on play, and rough-and-tumble play. All of which are imbued with a natural sense of curiosity and exploration and help the brain develop in a healthy manner.
In regards to innovation, playfulness is a central driver. Playfulness allows us to step outside of our more serious and constrained ways of thinking, and tinker with new possibilities because we don’t feel pressured. Dr. Brown puts it this way: “If its purpose is more important than the act of doing it, it’s probably not play.”
The increased drive to explore possibilities, combined with no pressure or stress, increases activation of the frontal lobe in the brain, driving creativity and perhaps a few innovative ideas.
How then, do we use this. A good way to start is to simply approach life with a playful attitude. That is not to say that all matters should be taken lightly, but more often than not we are more serious than we need to be and inhibit our playful side, which ironically inhibits the creativity we want in our work lives.
So let your self have a little more fun in your meetings. Give yourself permission to be a bit quirky. Try doing something that you enjoy for its own sake and see if it leads to any new ideas.
You can find Dr. Brown’s talk here.