Creativity, Innovation and 6 Simple Tricks to Drive Both

Creativity and Innovation

Creativity is Innate

I’ve been around creativity and innovation for a long time, from my years leading Tweddle Group’s creative teams, to when I taught writing at the University of Toledo, all the way back to the playground when my friends and I decided the Avengers weren’t cool enough so we created our own superheroes (though I’ll admit that “Soap-Man, Cleanser of Crime” was a bit of a disappointment).

One thing I’ve learned through it all is that everyone is creative, even though some of us might not feel that way. Years of answering questions exactly the way our teachers told us to or following processes because “that’s the way it’s always been done” has stifled our creative mojo. It’s time to get it back.


Why worry about your creativity?

Innovation, improvement, problem solving, and yes, developing new technology all require creative thinking. So giving your inner spark a kick in the hindquarters can take both your work and your life to new heights.

With that in mind, let’s celebrate “World Creativity and Innovation Day,” with six sure-fire ways to rekindle the creativity lurking inside of you, or to take the innovations already bursting out of your ears to the next level.

Tip #1 – Change Your Routine

You’ll be surprised how changing even the mundane things in your life can create a new perspective. Take a different way home today, one you’ve never tried. If you like rap music, listen to opera or country or showtunes. If you enjoy watching paint dry, give a go at watching water boil. Try new things without judgment or telling others “I do it this way because [insert safe answer here].” Become an explorer instead of a tourist.

Tip #2 – Think of new ways to use everyday things

The next time you’re hanging out in your bathroom think about creative uses for the toilet paper roll.

Innovation, improvement and problem solving all require creative thinking.

It could be a bad telescope, an airbag supplement, or tissue dabbed on pipes to detect a water leak, you get the idea.

Or, when you’re about to hit your social media, put down the phone and look around you. Pick out three items and think about new and unexpected ways to use them.

Don’t worry if your ideas are brilliant or silly. The point is to find something new in everything.

Don’t worry if your ideas are brilliant or silly.

Tip #3 – Connect the dots

Steve Jobs said, “Creativity is just connecting things.” It’s taking two or more experiences that seem unrelated and finding a connection between them.

For example, Jobs said his dance classes helped his Atari video game work because he understood how the human body moved.

Think of something you’ve experienced. An old job, a book you read, watching the neighbor shoveling snow in shorts and sandals, and find a creative way to connect that experience to something unrelated you’re working on. Every experience in our life can become a source of creative influence.

Tip #4 – Take a break

People smarter than me (which is most of the population) say the creative process needs an “incubation period,” when you walk away from your task to do or think about other things.

It may seem like a waste of valuable time when you’re trying to get something done, but sometimes time away is exactly what you need for inspiration. The project will continue to rattle around in the back of your head while you focus elsewhere.

Sometimes time away is exactly what you need for inspiration.

You may even experience a “eureka moment” because your amazing brain never stopped working on the project, even though you were off wondering if fruit counts as a dessert. So, take a break and come back with a fresh perspective.

Tip #5 – Hug Mistakes

Mistakes = Bad. Nope, that’s the type of thinking that crushed creativity and got us here in the first place.

Studies have shown that straight A students have learned to minimize mistakes. They also tend to avoid risky situations that could bring failure. There’s nothing wrong with getting straight A’s, but real innovation requires risk.

Creativity in the workplace

Don’t push your mistakes away, embrace them, give them a nice warm hug to pull some learning out of them. Remember that every error breaks a pattern and forces us to try new things. Mistakes are like cuddles for creativity.

Tip #6 – Play around

When I was a kid, my parents always told me to “stop playing around,” usually followed by something like “food isn’t ammunition” or “granny’s beard is real, you can’t pull it off.”  But what happens when we stop playing?

Brian Sutton-Smith said, “The opposite of play isn’t work, it’s depression.” He nailed it. Finding time to have fun will bring joy into your life. It will also loosen your thinking and allow creativity some space to flow.


These six simple tricks will spark your creativity, which can then become an engine to drive innovation. Whether you are looking for new ideas at work or fresh insights in life, take the time to feed your creative mojo and allow innovation to grow.

Paul Arnegard

Paul is an executive leader, writer and coach who has worked in the creative space for nearly 30 years, both in corporate and educational settings. As Tweddle Group’s VP of Shared Services, he oversees several business units including Creative Services, CGI, Marketing, QESH and PMO.

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