“I’m just not that creative,” is a phrase that should never, ever be uttered…anywhere. But at a startup, especially one that produces interactive online content, being a self-proclaimed “uncreative person” should be a mortal sin.

Fiction: Creativity is an innate form of intelligence, which exists in finite amounts.

Fact: You can practice creativity and get better at it.

I’ve recently started leading my company’s content team (content writers & graphic designers) in creativity exercises. Each week, during our team meeting, we take about 10 to 15 minutes to complete an exercise that forces us to flex our creativity muscles.

Creativity exercise: Draw Your Neighbor

How it works:

  • Each person is instructed to sketch the person to his or her right (no peeking allowed!)
  • After five minutes or so of sketching, all of the sketches are mixed up and put in a pile in the middle of the table
  • Each sketch is held up (and numbered) and participants jot down who they think is portrayed in each sketch
  • Next, participants go around the table and read off who they had for #1, #2, etc.
  • After everyone has made their guesses public for a particular sketch, the artist of the sketch can reveal who the right answer is

What’s the point?

Visualization: By completing a five-minute sketch, you’re practicing visualizing your ideas under a time constraint (think of brainstorms…you have five minutes to sketch out your idea for this project…)

Exit the Comfort Zone: Not everyone likes to sketch. And as you can tell by the examples I provided, not everyone is very good at sketching. By “forcing” such people to give it their best shot, you’re forcing their brains to think in a new way.

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