4 Easy Ways to Tap Into the Most In-Demand Soft Skill in the World: Creativity
January 20, 2020
Whatever your goals are for 2020—to take on a bigger project, start a job, lead a team—learning creativity can help you stand out for that next opportunity.
Creativity is the #1 soft skill companies need most this year, according to timely data from the LinkedIn network of 660+ million professionals and 20+ million jobs.
The trick is figuring out how to cultivate this elusive skill and apply it to your work. After all, organizations need people who can find new solutions to problems across every business role, from engineering to marketing to HR.
The good news? Cultivating creativity may be easier than you think.
We asked three creativity experts for advice on how you can demonstrate the skill that can help you reach your 2020 goals.
1. Practice creating novel solutions to small problems
“At work, we have become pretty good at solving problems with high degrees of relevance. What we struggle with is novelty,” says Stefan Mumaw, LinkedIn Learning instructor and author of six books on creativity. “We have to want to solve problems in a novel way, to solve them differently than before, or to bring some level of originality to our solutions.”
You may be thinking, why reinvent the wheel?
As adults, our tendency is to understand routine solutions and repeat them. But it’s in breaking routine that we tap into new reserves of creativity. Mumaw explains that we need to work at coming up with new approaches to common problems.
He suggests practicing on the small stuff:
“Look for the small problems you face every day—the ones you usually look past—identify them, then come up with two, three, or four alternative solutions to those problems, even if you don’t take any of those paths. The practice of identifying routine problems and generating ideas to solve them differently builds new muscle memory. And over time, you will no longer see singular, routine solutions to problems. You will instinctively think more creatively.”
For tips on how to get more creative in your problem solving, check out Stefan Mumaw’s course Creative Boot Camp 2: Creative Fuel.
2. Ask someone who probably doesn’t know the answer to your question
If you’re faced with a work challenge and grappling with how to respond, try asking someone removed from the situation, like a new hire or even a child, suggests Lisa Kay Solomon of the Design School at Stanford University and instructor of Leading Like a Futurist.
By looking for the answer outside of the core players involved, you’re thinking outside the box. While the eleven-year-old you ask may not have the exact answer you’re looking for, she may help you see your challenge through a lens you wouldn’t have otherwise considered.
“Ideas are often in the eye of the beholder,” says Solomon. So invite new perspectives into the conversation and see what new ideas surface.
3. Use the Design Thinking framework
Anyone can be creative, given the right tools—that’s Chris Nodder’s take on creativity.
And the “Design Thinking” framework is one of those valuable tools. In his course, Design Thinking: Understanding the Process, Nodder explains how design thinking works:
Put yourself in the shoes of whoever you’re creating for. Rather than problem solving in a vacuum, approach the problem from understanding the desired experience you hope to achieve.
Don’t just leap at the first solution that comes to mind. Come up with multiple solutions—even if an idea feels off, it may spark inspiration that leads you to the right solution.
Before implementing the solution, get feedback from all of the people you’re solving for. This will help you stay focused on creating a solution that’s focused on the end-user experience.
Often, people think that they have to hire outside agencies to get creative ideas, but Nodder disagrees. He explains that with the right structure—like turning to design thinking—you and your team are entirely capable of bringing innovative concepts to the table.
Learn how to leverage design thinking on your next project in Chris Nodder’s course Design Thinking: Understanding the Process.
4. Get out of your office
Step away from the computer. Go for a walk around the block. Grab a notebook and sit outside.
A change of scenery can help you change the way you think, explains Bonnie Siegler, one of the 50 most influential designers according to Graphic Design USA.
“Don’t think about the problem you’re trying to solve. Put it out of your mind completely and walk,” says Siegler. “When you get back to your desk, you’ll be able to see things from a new perspective and in a new light”
Ready to start honing your creativity to learn the #1 soft skill companies need most? Check out one of the courses above or any of these:
- Banish Your Inner Critic to Unleash Creativity with Denise Jacobs
- Creativity For All (Weekly Series)
- Creative Exercises to Spark Original Thinking with Amy Wynne