by Hussain Almossawi, author of “The Innovator’s Handbook“
As an architecture or design professional, you know that creativity is key to your success. But sometimes, it can be tough to develop new ideas, especially when you feel stuck in a rut.
It can be tempting to feel that your creativity is only as good as your last project and that coming up with something new and innovative is a matter of starting from scratch. But that’s not necessarily the case.
In fact, perhaps one of the best pieces of advice when it comes to creative thinking is to not stress over the final outcome too much and enjoy the process. Eventually, the end goal would be to create something unique and special. Those who created lasting ideas often never imagined at the time that their work would be remembered or celebrated, but they let their passion and persistence drive them through every hurdle, one step at a time.
Let’s look at six tips that can help you to come up with creative ideas, even when you feel like you’re stuck.
1. Don’t Stress It.
One of the best ways to put yourself in a creativity pit is by putting too much pressure on yourself. If you constantly worry that your ideas aren’t good enough, you’re likely to feel stuck.
Instead of stressing about being creative, try to relax and let the ideas flow. The more you pressure yourself, the harder you will find it to come up with anything.
Imagine that you’re just playing around with the idea at hand (even when professional deadlines loom) and see what happens. You may be surprised at the ideas that come to you when you’re not worried about whether or not they’re good enough.
2. You Don’t Need to Reinvent the Wheel.
You’ve likely heard this before: “Don’t waste time reinventing the wheel.” And for good reason – it’s often better to build on what already exists than it is to start from scratch.
There’s no need to feel like every idea you have needs to be brand new and completely unique. In fact, some of the most successful ideas are built on existing ones. It’s all about standing on the shoulders of the giants who came before you and taking the idea in a new direction.
Think about how you can build on what already exists and put your own spin on it. This doesn’t mean that you should copy others’ work but rather be inspired by it and add your own twist.
3. Don’t Copy, But Be Inspired by Others’ Work.
Copycats abound in our world. It makes sense when you think about it. Those who have created world-changing innovations create a sense of wonder and admiration within us. So, it’s only natural that we would want to try to replicate their success.
However, while it’s important to be inspired by others’ work, creating your own ideas is vital. Otherwise, you risk being a copycat rather than an innovator.
So how can you find the balance? One way is to take inspiration from a variety of sources and all kinds of industries while also staying true to your own voice. This way, you can create ideas firmly rooted in what you’re passionate about while being influenced by the great minds that came before you.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Bring on Other Talents.
Working alone can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it can be helpful to have uninterrupted time to explore your own ideas. On the other hand, it can be isolating and make it difficult to get feedback or perspective.
To create truly innovative ideas, it’s often helpful to bring on other talents. This could be in the form of a colleague, friend, or family member. But it could also be a professional, such as a coach or consultant.
Having someone to bounce ideas off of can help you to see things in a new light and come up with solutions you may not have thought of on your own. Collaboration is an extremely powerful tool for idea generation, and the more diverse your team is, the stronger your ideas could be pushed to the extremes of what you thought possible.
5. Stay Curious.
The most remarkable character trait of a quality designer is a sense of curiosity. When was the last time you asked yourself: “I wonder how that works?” Or “Why did they do it that way?”
Asking questions is a great way to open up your mind and develop new ideas. When you’re curious about the world around you, you’re more likely to see things in a new light and come up with inventive solutions.
If you find yourself feeling stuck, try to tap into your sense of curiosity. Ask yourself questions about the problem at hand and see where they lead you. Many A to B paths take a turn toward an unexpected C destination that yields far more creative solutions.
6. There’s No Right or Wrong.
One of the biggest myths about creativity is that there’s a right and wrong way to do it. This couldn’t be further from the truth! In reality, there are endless ways to be creative, and what works for one person may not work for another.
Finding a process that works for you and allows you to tap into your creativity is essential. There’s no need to force yourself to follow a particular formula or method. Instead, experiment and play around until you find something that feels natural and comfortable for you.
Many times, amazing ideas are killed in their infancy because we are too worried about them being feasible, doable, or even presentable to the public. So instead, we play it safe to avoid embarrassing ourselves.
But the reality is that you should go crazy and wild, because there is no right or wrong during your ideation and exploration phases. All crazy ideas can be adjusted to adapt to reality when it’s time for execution. The impossibly executable ideas often lead to new innovations and manufacturing processes because they allow us to find new solutions and ask the right questions. Dream big and go all out on blue sky ideas!
Give Yourself Freedom to Design.
Design innovation requires a bit of risky freedom. Great minds stay curious and open-minded. Dive into your sense of curiosity and ask yourself questions about the world around you – and let yourself be inspired by the unexpected in the world around you.
So, is there a right or wrong way to be creative? Only when you stifle your potential by falling into limiting beliefs and fears of the unknown. The important thing is that you’re comfortable with your process, allowing you to tap into your creativity. So go forth and create!
Hussain Almossawi is a renowned designer and innovator who has worked across industries around the world creating and consulting for companies, including Nike, Apple, Google, Adidas, EA Sports, Intel, and Ford. In 2019, Hussain founded Mossawi Studios, a multi-disciplinary design studio specializing in creating memorable, iconic, and bold experiences. He is the author of “The Innovator’s Handbook: A Short Guide to Unleashing Your Creative Mindset.”