Article Date: 3/1/2009

Catching The Spirit of Creativity

Catching The Spirit of Creativity

Can understanding how we create fight off writer's block and mental lock?

Jim Thomas

Whether you're putting together an e-mail promotion for contact lens wearers, redesigning your reception area or developing new patient services, a creative spark can pay huge dividends. Yet creativity is often elusive. Can we harness the creative spirit and bypass the mental lock?

Yes, they tell me. Creativity guru Michael Michalko writes in his book Cracking Creativity, that we can become creative by studying the practices of geniuses. He's published several books on creativity, even one (pardon the pun) called Thinkertoys.

Connect the unconnected

One practice of those who create is to connect needs that haven't yet been connected. So we have reliability coupled with overnight delivery (FedEx), variety and low price (WalMart), peanut butter and chocolate (Reese's peanut butter cups), and vision correction plus indoor-outdoor wear (photochromic lenses).

With an understanding of your patients, you can connect needs and create solutions. For example, the need for excellent eye care coupled with patient convenience may lead to promoting morning and evening hours or home delivery of glasses and contact lenses. The need for excellent eye care and pediatric vision correction could result in a specialized open house that focuses on kids.

Mr. Michalko tells us that creativity is separate from intelligence. Richard P. Feynman, the Nobel prize winning physicist, had an IQ of 122. Other experts agree that it's not a lack of intelligence, but a negative perspective on one's own abilities that impedes creation. So gain confidence in your creative side and inspire creativity in your staff.

Brainstorming is another practice of creative minds. The purpose here is to generate as many ideas as possible — it's not about criticizing output. Be positive, even with the staffer who's presented 99 bad ideas. Number 100 could be the winner.

No complicated secrets

The creative process may be as simple as combining the ideas above: Display confidence and persevere, generating as many ideas as possible. In his book The Naked Cartoonist, Robert Mankoff, the cartoon editor of The New Yorker, explains that before the magazine accepted his first cartoon, he had submitted "10 a week for two years."

A logical next step in the creative process is a dialogue — specifically, we invite you to share your creative success stories, no matter how big or small, with OM's readers. E-mail these creative solutions to james. OM

Optometric Management, Issue: March 2009