In 1968, after surviving an incredible, potential disaster during the Apollo 13 mission, NASA decided to take their recruitment program into a different direction. Instead of ‘just’ recruiting the top scientists and engineers in the world, they wanted their top scientists and engineers to also be creative geniuses. After all, creative problem solving at NASA is often a matter of life or death.
George Land, a psychologist and creativity expert, jumped on board and designed a hugely successful creativity test. Through this test, NASA was able to assess creative thinking process in its applicants and select the most creative engineers and scientists during their recruitment process. For Land, creating this test left him with more questions than answers. Is creativity aptitude something we are born with? Is it something we learn?
Land decided to put a group of 1600 children through his test in 5 year intervals and the results were astounding. At age 5, 98% of the children scored at the highest creativity level possible in the test. This dropped to there being only 30% of those children remaining at that level 5 years later. A further 5 years later, now at age 15, only 12% of those children maintained their ‘creative genius level’ score. When he then tested 280,000 adults, only 2% were at the top creativity level. In his research paper Land wrote: “What we have concluded, is that non-creative behavior is learned.”
For many people, “creative” is the last word they’d use to describe themselves. It can feel like something elusive – something some people have, but most of us don’t. This couldn’t be further from the truth! We are all creative. We were all born highly creative, we just need the right tools and stimuli to unlock our inner creative genius. Creativity is a process.
Here are three steps to get your creative thinking process started:
- Target your creativity to something specific! Articulate the problem you are trying to solve as specifically as you possibly can.
- Look outside your own brain! Go online and read about things that are loosely related to your problem. Do other industries have a related problem? How do they solve it? What are start-ups doing? Can you find related (even very loosely related) technology trends?
- Connect what you have found to the problem you are solving. The creative thinking process is all about connections. When you push yourself to make a connection (and spend some time doing so!) you will come up with ideas that will surprise even you!
Give it a try!
As always, if you would like any help with developing your creative thinking skills and unlocking the creative genius you have within (or anything else innovation related) feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org – I’d love to hear from you!