When we talk about “future-proofing” something, the understanding is that we can’t predict the challenges that will face us in the days, months and years to come yet we still want to prepare. While we’d all like to think that our past problem-solving approaches will work for any future issue, the reality is that we can’t possibly know what’s around the bend and whether our problem-solving “hammer” will be ready for an issue that isn’t a “nail.” This is why developing your innate creativity is an essential preparation for the unexpected. Below are three ways that creativity can help handle unanticipated future problems.
1. Creativity allows for comfort with ambiguity
As with any unexpected challenge, there will be a period of chaos and confusion after we realize that traditional problem-solving methods aren’t helping. The creative process is about living with this ambiguity for a period of time as we explore novel approaches in search of a solution. The simple understanding that there will be a period where things are messy, goes a long way towards keeping us calm and focused on the issues at hand without our getting overwhelmed or seizing the first fix that comes to mind. Creativity makes room for – and actually thrives in – uncertainty because it is an indispensable part of the creative process.
2. Creativity encourages lateral-thinking
Creativity isn’t bound by linear or predictable patterns. In fact, it is the act of departing from existing patterns that leads to creative breakthroughs. Otherwise put, thinking “laterally” instead of “linearly” can lead to insights and perspectives that might not otherwise come to light. It is exactly this kind of non-linear approach that allows for new ways of looking at problems that don’t have obvious links to prior problems or challenges. By being willing to depart from the orthodox approach, we open ourselves up to brand new ways of solving brand new future problems.
3. Creativity involves a willingness to take risks
A hallmark of any creative endeavor is that it involves a certain amount of risk. This could be anything from risk to our reputations or even the bottom line of our businesses. However, as we develop our creativity, we become less afraid of risk for multiple reasons. First, we understand that failure is an essential part of the creative process and second, the rewards – more often than not – far outweigh the risks taken. While I’m not suggesting outrageous risk, I am saying that being completely risk-averse is the antithesis of creativity and the solutions it can yield.
We have no way of knowing what challenges await us. But by making the effort to re-kindle our innate creativity, we stand a much better chance of navigating towards novel and satisfying solutions. Creativity isn’t the domain of a gifted few but, rather, an essential survival skill that we all possess and need to nurture. A creative mindset is as critical as a willingness to do hard, productive work when it comes to facing whatever problems the future holds for us.
Find out more about Cliff’s innovation & creativity workshops for business teams and organizations.