A Chinese proverb warns us to be careful of our habits, for they shall become our character. It’s a concept that I think captures the importance of routine in developing us into the people we become. If we habitually condition ourselves to reject the untried, the unknown or the unusual, we are doomed to action that is likely to be safe, predictable and reliable, but unlikely to be inventive or innovative.
Very often, creativity is viewed as an outcome. We assume that naturally creative people easily produce innovative ideas or work, while ‘ordinary’ people are simply not born to create extraordinary ideas.
The good news, however, is that our scientific research has determined that creativity is a learnable process and the attitudinal, behavioral and thinking skills which make it work are the real keys. When we deliberately opt to think creatively, use creative tactics and tools, and follow a creative process, we become more innovative and ingenious. Just as practice and consistent commitment makes us better at almost anything, not surprisingly, it also makes us more skilled at executing creativity as a standard, everyday behavior.
For organizations, developing a culture of innovation begins with equipping employees at all levels with the process and skills they need to behave creatively, then supporting and rewarding them as they continuously practice and hone those skills. The reward? Inventive people with creative habits and characters, and an organizational culture of implementing new ideas.