Creative: Demonstrating professional creativity through your digital presence

Being creative has a process, no matter your field. Demonstrating that you are creative is about demonstrating that you understand that process. Problems require creativity to solve them effectively, they don’t have to be artistic problems.

A typical creative process

Design Thinking is a classic creative problem solving process that is becoming very popular. It has six basic stages:

  1. Frame the question
  2. Seek inspiration
  3. Have lots of ideas
  4. Create prototypes
  5. Test your prototypes
  6. Iteratively improve your idea

And don’t be afraid to be flexible with the process; if a prototype gives you a new idea, step back into the ideation phase and explore that properly.

There are tools at every stage to help with getting through the process. Generally speaking the outputs of the process will be effective if you have empathy for the end user and you seek inspiration from lots of very diverse sources. Creative people go through this process endlessly, whether their output is a luxurious oil painting or a delightfully intuitive tax return form.

Overcoming creative block

In an ideal world you go through the above process very smoothly, but the world is not ideal. So whether it’s caused by a crisis of confidence or an advert jingle stuck in your head, most people have felt what it’s like to get stuck in this process. Showing that you have strategies and tactics for dealing with creative block is another way to demonstrate that you have experience actually going through the process.

Classic activities people do when faced with creative block, this is usually around the ideas phase:

  1. Go for volume of ideas without judgement of quality.
  2. Go back and revisit old ideas with a new perspective.
  3. Just leave the process and concentrate on something else. I like to go somewhere where I think I’ll find a new perspective and then try item number two, which helps this option steer clear of procrastination.
  4. Give yourself random constraints to see what happens. Many creative problem solving tools deliberately constrain you in some way.
  5. Look at what other creative people in your space are doing and think about how it might apply to your context, better still, go and talk to them.
  6. Do a brain dump to see what’s in your head and pick through the material you note down to see if it provides a new perspective.
  7. Tidy your surroundings, it helps to clear your brain of clutter.

You will notice that a lot of these are about getting ouside your routine, about having processes that force you out of complacency. There is much in the creative process that requires you to go outside your comfort zone and test your own boundaries.

This is true whether you’re a graphic designer trying to design a social media image or a HR person trying to engage new recruits.

Common constraints creative people use

There are some constraints that you will find over and over again across all creative endeavors. They are used because they help people produce good quality material. Ones I come across a lot include:

  1. Simplicity: Either starting with one purpose or job to be done for your output or removing jobs until you’ve pared it right down.
  2. Consistency: Making your work consistent with something, often in an entirely different medium.
  3. Find a boundary to challenge: Whatever field you work in, there will be rules that govern “how things are done” finding this space and deliberately trying to move beyond it can be a counter-intuitive constraint.

Demonstrating creativity through your digital presence

So now you have an idea about the creative process, you will probably have more confidence that you are creative, even if you if you work in a traditionally conservative job. You may also begin to see that there is a fair bit you can do with your digital presence to demonstrate that you are familiar with this creative process.

  1. Share on a wide range of subjects: If you’re thinking about social psychology, design thinking, LinkedIn, business development and values-based leadership, then share good material you find on those things.
  2. Engage in something creative that relates to your profession: Try writing or graphic design, for example, and deliberately use creative processes. Make sure you share your output. Many of the lawyers I have worked with would do mash-ups, for example, with out realising it, when they were trying to think of something to write for a legal update to clients.
  3. Use each item of output as a learning tool: This is basically iteration. You can deliberately revisit old output and revamp it with a new perspective.
  4. Visual aesthetic: If you can, try to make sure that your photo, slides and general visual materials are beautiful. By this I mean attention detail in all aspects. If you’re worried that you may not be good at this, find someone in your life who you think is and ask their honest opinion.
  5. Be open about your process: Try doing a mash-up between one field and another to generate a list of writing topics, for example, then share the title options from your social media profile to seek opinions from your audience on what would be the most interesting to write about.
  6. Endorsements from classic creative people: Maybe you don’t feel that you are classically creative, but perhaps your colleague is in innovation or design. If you’ve worked with them in some significant way, then ask them to endorse you on your profile.

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