Dive Into the Creative Pool

A creative approach that your association can use to think differently about an issue.

Sometimes, you just need to walk away from work. With your whole team. And go dumpster diving. That, along with infinite variations, is what creativity expert Todd Henry would advise the next time you’re sitting in front of a white board that’s remaining stubbornly white.

“If you want to be brilliant at a moment’s notice,” says Henry, “you have to begin far upstream from the moment you need brilliant ideas.”In his book The Accidental Creative, Henry uses the term “stimulus dive” to describe collaboratively seeking out new environments to kindle new ideas.

Here’s how it works:

Identify a specific problem you’re trying to solve.

“If you go in with a lack of focus, it probably won’t work,” says Henry.

Plan a working session away from the office and immerse yourself in observing the surroundings.

You could examine the staff picks in a bookstore, spend $3 at a discount store on random items, take photos with instant cameras in a different part of town, or see what treasures can be found in an alley dumpster (true story).

Share and compare observations from what you saw or collected.

The goal is to use these seemingly disconnected bits to force connections in your brain between them and your work challenge. “The more things you have to connect, the more nonintuitive and valuable your ideas will be,” says Henry. Keep working until the pieces click into an idea.

(Ryan McVay/Getty Images)

Maria Mihalik

By Maria Mihalik

Maria Mihalik is the Newsletter and Supplements Editor for Associations Now. MORE

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