You probably already know about the theory that a person may be right-brained (creative) or left-brained (analytically) dominant. While it is true we may naturally lean more on side than the other; a problem arises when we categorize ourselves too deeply and only see ourselves as one and NOT the other. This hinders our ability to truly be both creative & analytical. I have seen this play out in the workplace and, to me, this is a mindset that needs to be shifted.
Most people I speak with are really surprised to hear that when I was growing up, I used to create my own cartoons, animations and have experience in graphic arts & design…
So how did this once aspiring animator (who wanted to work at Pixar) end up in the entrepreneurial world?
Easy – I saw entrepreneurship as an ultimate form of creativity. I have the potential to create any business I want, in any market I want and can impact people.
Creative, Meet the Business World
From the outside looking in, business can seem pretty dry. Numbers, analysis, systems & processes, sales… all things that are essential for a business to thrive, yet things that don’t seem to have much creative input.
Yet, how did I transition to a world like that?
The not so simple, simple answer: you just do.
When you have an outcome you want to achieve, there is a moment where you just have to decide to do whatever is necessary to achieve it. It is not “easy” and work is required, but I believe anyone can truly be both creative and analytical in their work and life.
When you have an outcome you want to achieve, there is a moment where you just have to decide to do whatever is necessary to achieve it.
If you are a left-brain and always say to yourself “I’m not creative, I will let someone else do that for me” – you’re lying to yourself. Here is a simple process you can model to inspire creativity in your thinking and solve real problems analytically at the same time:
Stage 1: Define The Problem & Outcome
Understanding what you are trying to solve is the most important piece to actually solving it. Define what you are trying to solve and know the problem so well you can explain to someone else why it’s a problem and why it needs to be solved.
Then we move to the creative piece: visualize the desired outcome.
This does not mean you need to know the solution right away. We are only here visualizing what the outcome will look & feel like AFTER a solution has been implemented. Allowing yourself to visualize a solution that is yet to be, allows your brain to spark new connections and thus adding to your creativity.
Try asking a few of the following questions while you daydream your desired outcome:
- What does the desired outcome look like?
- What will people feel?
- How will I feel?
- What will be different?
- Who will it affect?
Once you have a strong grasp of the problem and what the desired outcome will look & feel like, it’s time to dig into the actual solution that will get you there.
Stage 2: Set Parameters
The word “limits” has had the bad rep of being a negative connotation. However, limitations are actually a good thing!
Limits are the playground for creativity.
Truth is we are surrounded by limitations. Could be our state in life, our current situation, our resources etc.
For example, humans on their own cannot fly. We are limited. Yet, our desire to fly has fueled engineers in the early 1900s to find ways to lead humans to flight, which eventually gave way to the birth of the airplane.
Why We Need Limits
Creativity can be boundless. There are so many ways to solve one problem you can easily run into idea overwhelm.
Next step is to now define what you currently have and do not have to solve your problem.
Doing so will allow you to set boundaries in which you will creatively solve your problem at hand.
At this stage we now have:
- The problem clearly defined
- Vividly know the outcome we are trying to achieve
- Know the boundaries in which we are going to find a solution
The next stage is to marinate in the creative process…
Stage 3: The Creative Process
This stage is where you allow yourself to think, chew, and process everything you’ve defined so far in the earlier stages.
This is not a static stage where you sit and do nothing, but more of a dynamic stage where you allow yourself to be flexible in processing the information in order to create a solution. Keep in mind that we are NOT trying to find the perfect solution. We want to create a raw solution that we can implement immediately and refine it to make it better.
Here are a few ideas that you can follow for this stage:
- Go for a 15-minute brisk walk thinking over stages 1 & 2. It’s known that early human brains evolved significantly when we walked 12-15 miles per day. Let your ideas evolve by taking them on a walk. (Source: Brain Rules by Dr. John J. Medina)
- Grab a large sheet of butcher paper and a thick marker. Start to draw out some ideas, words and try connecting them. Ensure you do use a thick marker since you’re still in the creative stage and don’t need to add the details. (Thick markers make it hard to write tiny details.)
- Say it out loud. Talk about the entire process to a friend, colleague, mentor or coach. Your brain may connect the dots as you start explaining the situation to another person. You may also get inspired by how they have solved a similar problem!
- Sleep on it. Sleep allows your brain to process the information and you can wake up refreshed and with new ideas. (This is actually how I wrote this post. The night before I defined what I wanted to write about, slept, rolled awake around 4:45am then started thinking of the outline of what I was going to write about. I wrote it down immediately since I knew I would forget it later in the day.)
Once you piece a solution you think might just work, it is time to put it to the test.
Stage 4: Implement & Iterate
The beauty of the creative process is that you give it legs when you put it to the test. You do NOT have to have a perfect solution at this point. But when you implement it, you will find ways to improve & iterate.
This cycle of constant improvement ends until you see that the problem you wanted to solve is solved and you are experiencing the desired outcome. It can be immediate or after one, two or several iterations.
If you find that the solution you created in Stage 3 didn’t pan out, it’s ok to go back to that stage to create more ideas.
The Analytical Creative
What if you’re more creative and cringe at the idea of thinking about “systems & processes”. Well, you’d be surprised that analytical thinking can be quite fun and quite the art.
Analytical thinking can be an art.
Here’s a simple process I, a creative, follow to create systems & processes which have made a significant impact in business’ workflows and sales growth that I have applied this to.
Stage 1: Define The Problem & Outcome
Knowing the problem we are trying to fix or improve still is the most important part, short of the solution itself.
When creating systems & processes, the problem itself is the lack of systems & the inefficiencies they create. Altogether, the lack of such systems inhibits the ability for any growth.
In this stage define key players in the current process and where the drop off in performance or inefficiency is occurring. Then define what things will look like with a solution.
Stage 2: Map It Out
Next, map out exactly what is currently being done in stages.
Do this on a large sheet of paper and with a thick marker. Being a creative, it is best to visualize these stages as rectangles or circles where you can easily play out in your head the scene of the work being done in that particular stage. Then, draw the shapes out and then give each stage a fun, descriptive name.
Since you’ve already visualized what is happening in each stage and gave them a memorable name, you do not have to add any more detail of what’s going in each stage.
Stage 3: Use Your Creative Genius
With everything visually laid out in front of you, it’s time to create and draw out new maps!
Think of as many “what if’s” as possible and visually create new maps with each idea.
Here are some questions to fuel your innovation:
- What can I take away?
- What can I add?
- What if we moved this stage?
- What can I connect?
- What if this was more simple?
- What information does this stage need to do its work?
- Is there a way to create a shortcut?
When it’s time, select the map you see can work best and be easily implemented. It is key that solutions can be easily implemented.
Stage 4: Implement & Iterate
It is now time to bring your creation to life and implement in the real world. It’s ok if it is not perfect, we know that it will be improved with feedback.
New Self Discovery
By following these simple processes you may actually start to uncover that you may be more creative or analytical than you thought!
Drop a note in the comments on how you can use this in your own life OR if you have your own process for being creative/analytical, please share!
Continue to Do Good Work,