Creative thinking – think ‘Mad Men’

Are you seeking innovative ideas to improve your business or practice and add value? Then “get creative”

Coaching is about finding more about you, what you want from life, who you are, what motivates you, what makes you happy, it’s time for you. It is support for you to make positive life changes. Coaching can involve more than one to one dialogue. Different insights can be gained from using creative methods of working together, in addition to talking. Getting in touch with our latent creativity and using practical techniques to assist our understanding are often quicker and provoke different insights than merely talking.

There are variety of creative methods including visualisation, drawing, pictures, metaphor, storytelling, mind mapping, image work using cards, free association and even listening to music.

When we think of creativity we often think of art, poetry, music or design. Creating something from nothing. Thinking creatively is something that we can all develop and can help us when we feel stuck on a particular issue in our work or personal life.

In order to be able to think creatively we should remove judgement and allow ourselves to be a little silly! Think the unthinkable! Allow silliness to help solve a problem or get the creative thinking flowing. Sometimes the best ideas come from the silliest of ideas in the first place all because someone has allowed themselves to think the unthinkable. In the America hit drama ‘Mad Men’ set in an American ad agency in the 1960’s the going gets really tough and the ad agency loses their most prestigious account ‘Lucky Strike’ cigarettes. The main character really stands out from the crowd by daring to do the opposite to all their competitors by writing an open letter to a top newspaper informing New York of the health dangers of smoking. Now you might not think that is so different but in 1962 the dangers of smoking were not so well known, it was a radical, risky strategy.

Free association or brain storming is good for getting a number of ideas quickly, it is quick and helps to get the ideas flowing. It is also good as a warm up when not sure how to approach something. Allow your mind to run free sometimes, perhaps around a random idea, for example, thinking from the point of view of a colour or a pair of shoes can be a great place to start. If you can’t decide on where to go on a holiday you could pick a colour and free associate around that colour to come up with your next holiday! For example, take the colour ‘green’ you might think of Ireland or the green water of a river in France. Shoes might help you to think about a problem differently by thinking of shoes you might think ‘running shoes’ to run around the problem and look at it from another perspective or ‘high heels’ to look down on the problem. But if none of these ideas’ appeal to you try looking at the issue from another perspective. Be open to influences and get others people view on the issues can be another helpful way to open up your thinking around a certain area and feedback from others can be really helpful. Try another perspective, how would someone else approach this issue? It could be a friend, someone you admire in your life or someone who you admire in your field or profession, circle of friends, in the media, real or imaginary. Ask yourself how would they approach the problem? What would Homer Simpson or Alan Sugar do in this situation?

It helps if we can identify assumptions from the outset. What are you assuming about a situation? Try a ‘what if’ question and challenge your assumptions. Be mindful not to push yourself too hard, sometimes by turning off and just letting the issue simmer in your mind for a while allows your unconscious mind to find the most creative answers.

Finally, have fun with your ideas and creativity will follow.

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