This blog reflects on life at work at comments on the latest news that shapes my 9-5 working day in a Corporate Communications consultancy.

About Me

I am a born and bred South African who has always loved to read and write. As a child my mother used to read to me and my siblings, from classics like the “Lord of the Rings” but later also from her own stories. She would write children’s stories and then use us as her test audience, but I loved to hear what she had written long after my siblings had tired of it. So I grew up in an environment of reading and writing, which inspired my love of these things. I hope to write a great book some day, and have learnt first hand the determination and will that it takes. My love of English inspired me to continue my study of it at university. I majored in Law and English in a BA degree at UCT where I found that I took to English much more than law. I enjoyed learning about South Africa’s history and the development of our liberal Constitution, which increasingly made me committed to the hope this country has for the future. Ideally, I’d like to find myself in a job where I am able to write; that allows a good mix of time spent with people and being able to work on my own.

Sunday, 06 May 2007

Thinking creatively about creativity

Roy’s seminar on creativity got me to think far more broadly about the subject than I had previously. In the game at the beginning when we had place names stuck to our back, I think we all learned that as a group our geography is very flawed. As a group of mostly foreigners, I wouldn’t have expected anyone to know where Howick was- the place Ijeoma had to work out. It is a small town, a ‘dorpie’, in Kwazulu-Natal that has become like a retirement community. It does have a tourist attraction: the Howick falls, where the Umgeni river drops 300 feet. So Ijeoma was getting very frustrated when she got conflicting answers as to where this place was- some in the group had told her it was in Europe! Eventually she worked out the answer by finding that the name sounded like “Horlicks”.

Playing this game taught us that we needed to find other strategies for arriving at a solution, particularly when we find one – such as relying on geography- isn’t working. I have played a similar game on long drives with my brother. He will think has of a celebrity’s name and I would guess what it is by asking ‘yes no’ questions, and then we would swap. I remember getting quite frustrated playing this, particularly at the end of a trip when I just can’t get the answer. Next time, I hope I’ll be able to think of more strategies, and beat my brother by asking the least questions!

As Roy defined it, creativity is applied problem solving. So now I think of creativity not just in the context of writing poetry or painting, but also as a vital skill that can be cultivated in life and particularly in business. For example, an advert for Investec Asset management says, “You’ll be expected to zig when others zag”. Part of their job is to bring a mixture of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial thinking to the table.

What I most appreciated was the various tools he gave us to help us step- by- step through the creative process. The workshop reinforced that taking action is an essential part of this. An idea that is not acted on is a lost idea, just floating around in the air. Many times I’ve thought of things and not written them down. I think I’ll be keeping a notebook in my bed from now on! Thanks Roy for an informative, fun and very practical session.


Susan Mwangi said...

Yes Susan, I could not agree with you more. The creativity session opened my eyes to a whole new way of looking at problems and finding solutions. It reminded me that we are all endowed with creativity, which makes it unnecessary to always stick to the 'tried and tested'.

You better believe it, I have decided to step into and take charge of my creative zone!

Valentin said...

Dear Susan,
I hope that you would immediately apply these insights you learnt from Roy in the first job you get after the WOW training programme.
Indeed, you need to apply different strategies when looking for your answers. I believe that people today tend to ignore the fact that creativity is really about solving a problem and finding the appropraite stragety to solve this problem.
I am glad that Roy's presentation has taught you something new about how to be creative-both in life and at the workplace.