April 15 marked the beginning of Work Creativity and Innovation Week, which begins on the birth anniversary of Leonardo Da Vinci. Started in 2002 by Marci Segal and a small group of Canadian creativity facilitators as a single day honoring creativity, the week-long event now encompasses activities at more than 100 businesses, homes, organizations, schools and communities in more than 46 countries.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve celebrated the week (which runs through April 21) in my own way on this blog, including a creativity link-a-polooza serving up the best selections from my weekly Surf’s Up feature, and a review of the blogs of 15 creative people I follow via RSS. This year, I thought I’d give five quick tips for celebrating this week and honoring the creative spirit, wherever it can be found!
1. Engage in the art of bricolage. Bricolage refers to the art of making do – creating from whatever is at hand. Little kids do this all the time, creating a bus from a cardboard carton or a sword from tin foil and a stick. Cooking is one of the easiest ways to engage in bricolage. Pick a meal this week and create it using only what you have at home. Extra points if you’re using up leftovers to make it!
2. Share your favorite creativity links. Obviously, this is one of my favorite ways to celebrate this week – and every other week, for that matter! If you don’t have a blog of your own, you can spread the good stuff via your Twitter or Facebook account.
3. Imagine a “yes-and” world. The concept of yes-and is key to successful improvisation. Edward de Bono argues in his recent book Think! Before It’s Too Late that we should consider less whether an idea is “right” or not and think more in terms of where it takes us. What would a world in which we regularly built on each others’ ideas look like? Write or draw your answers! This activity could be especially fun to do in a group using a whiteboard.
4. Intentionally cross-pollinate your ideas. Cross-pollination is good for the plants that we eat as crops as well as emerging thoughts. Research shows that various pollinating techniques, including dreaming help produce more creative ideas by “priming” associative networks in the brain. Scientists have known about this technique for centuries, and recently, physics researchers used observations about a common breakfast cereal, aka the “Cheerios effect,” to better explain how the universe operates.
Creative cross-pollination can be as simple as exposing yourself to concepts that are new to you or novel for the problem you’re trying to resolve. You can tap into social media to broaden your horizons, or you can try paging thru 5 magazines on topics you know nothing about, or visiting 5 cable channels you rarely watch. (For me, that might include The Military Channel and an NBA pay-per-view station.)
5. Discover a new tool or technique to expand your ability to think creatively. Just as you can focus on mastering techniques in a given artistic medium, there are many ways to enrich our ability to generate, evaluate and act on good ideas. DeBono has written a number of books that drill down into the nitty-gritty of building better concepts; Chuck Frey of InnovationTools.com has written an e-book “Creativity Hacks” that’s packed with easy ways to brainstorm and capture ideas.
You can learn more about how others are celebrating World Creativity and Innovation Week by visiting its website page dedicated to sharing activities.