Philly Creative Guide

Here's the Thing

Bill Haley

Turbocharge Your Creativity in 7 Easy Steps
by Bill Haley, 1 Sep 2010

Bill Haley is one of the founders of He is also President, Interactive of Allied Pixel (, an integrated media production firm specializing in the convergence of HD video, web and interactive media. He can be reached at [email protected].

A recent article in Newsweek had some interesting ideas about how to boost creativity. Here's the skinny.

Turbocharge Your Creativity in 7 Easy Steps

1. Forget about brainstorming.

It turns out that brainstorming actually inhibits creativity. Research shows that members of a creative team generate more and better ideas separately than as a group. For that matter, half of the most commonly used creative techniques don't work, and may even lessen creativity.

Turbocharge Your Creativity in 7 Easy Steps

2. Don't ask someone to "be creative."

More often than not, people freeze up when they're asked to be "creative." Mark Runco of the University of Georgia has this suggestion: "Do something that only you would come up with – that none of your friends or family would think of." He's found that the number of creative responses doubles when people are given that advice.

Turbocharge Your Creativity in 7 Easy Steps

3. Dust off that gym membership.

30 minutes of aerobic exercise improves almost every dimension of cognition, including creativity. The boost lasts for at least two hours afterwards, and it doesn't matter what kind of exercise you do. But there's a big But. This only works for people who are physically fit. For couch potatoes, the resulting fatigue actually lessens creativity.

Turbocharge Your Creativity in 7 Easy Steps

4. Stop watching tv.

Elizabeth Vandewater at the University of Texas found that for every hour a kid watches television, her overall time in creative activities drops by up to 11 percent. Considering that kids spend about three hours in front of the tv every day, that's scary.

Turbocharge Your Creativity in 7 Easy Steps

5. See the world.

People who have lived abroad are more creative. First and second generation immigrants are more creative. Bilingual people are more creative. It seems that cross-cultural experiences force people to adapt and be more flexible. Even studying a culture can be helpful. People in an experiment who watched a 45 minute slideshow on China had increased creative scores for a week.

Turbocharge Your Creativity in 7 Easy Steps

6. Follow your passion.

Rena Subotnik, a researcher at the American Psychological Association, found that kids who are allowed to develop deep passions and follow them wholeheartedly – even at the expense of being well-rounded – do best. "Kids who have deep identification with a field have better discipline and handle setbacks better," she noted.

Turbocharge Your Creativity in 7 Easy Steps

7. Bypass the suggestion box.

Formal feedback mechanisms like suggestion boxes, surveys and web forms stifle innovation because respondents usually don't see a meaningful outcome and hence don't take them seriously. People need to know their ideas will be put into practice. Toyota has an extremely successful plant in Georgetown, Kentucky. Part of the reason? The plant implements up to 99% of employee's ideas.

Turbocharge Your Creativity in 7 Easy Steps

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Print Article Brought to you by: Bill Haley | President, Interactive of Allied Pixel