Often the most creative solutions are found in times of extreme frustration, constraints and hardship - no money, no resources, no time. It is when you are backed into a corner and you feel that disaster is snapping at your heels, that creativity can give you the edge that you need.
Below are 4 hot tips for being ready for that moment when extreme creativity calls.
1. Become the frugal innovator
The frugal innovator can work under conditions of extreme limitation.
Start by using a readily available asset - your clever brain! Extreme conditions can be the birthplace of extreme creativity. So, give your brain a chance to perform to the maximum of its evolutionary makeup! Acknowledge and accept the stress of having limited capital or time by recognising that a raised heart rate and ‘fight or flight’ response is a natural state to steer your thinking and focus. It is often in these moments that clarity in linking ideas or being resourceful shines brightest.
Frugal operations and decision making is nothing new. It is about working with vigilance to not waste time or money, or spending time sulking over a failed prototype. If you don’t have the money, workforce or skills to create something you need such as a website, then consider alternative ways of achieving it. Post the job on Airtasker or Fiver, or consider trading a skill you have for a skill someone else has. And if your prototype was unsuccessful then take what you’ve learnt to quickly start again and make another. If you’ve been frugal and created it lo-fi, then it should be easy to pick up the pieces and start again.
2. Look for inspiration with a strong leader
Creativity can blossom when you are working with great people.
What inspires you ‘when the chips are down’? The unwavering passion, charisma and personality of a great leader can be the remedy when motivation is low. This can translate into ‘going the extra mile’, working late and giving it ‘one last shot’.
The role of the ‘leader’ doesn’t necessarily have to fall to that person with the biggest job title, as everyone can ‘pull up their socks’ and inspire others around them. This can generate a good workplace culture and a positive frame of mind - both essential for naturally boosting creativity.
To boost the creativity of those around you, there are two philosophies you can work by: Firstly, you “need to be in love with the problem” rather than the solution. If you are passionate about the problem and why you are doing what you do, then this passion can be infectious. Your passion for the cause will be a key motivator for yourself and others. Secondly, find ways to inject humanity in your day-to-day operations e.g. cake on birthdays with colleagues. This recognition of the individual and building camaraderie can go a long way, especially when faced with constraints and hardships.
3. Make every moment count
Make space for creativity by being smart with time and planning.
The ‘ol addage is still true, “timing is everything!”. The importance of picking your moment is crucial when you don’t have money or resources to waste on ‘near misses’ or mistakes. When you’ve got a small budget and perhaps few people in your corner, you will need to use your wiles to out fox the competition or be patient to launch at the optimal time.
There are many things you can do to become a time ninja and excel at the art of timing. Do your research, be strategic, and stay connected with what matters most to your venture. To give yourself every chance of being opportunistic you will need to have your ear to the ground in your market sector and keep up to date with people of influence. In other words, Keep abreast of insight and stimulus and be prepared and ready for your next move, either by stealth and design or by opportunity.
4. Crowdsource and share
The stress of less can result in crowdsourcing for creativity.
Under times of hardship and stress, the hormone oxytocin is released by the body. This hormone is commonly associated with soothing moments or love, but when we are stressed oxytocin has the effect of naturally directing us to reach out to others. So, we are biologically programmed to crowdsource for creativity and problem solving!
Working with others is a sure fire way of boosting creativity and crowdsourcing is an effective way to source ideas and solutions on a tight budget.
It is often written that “if necessity is the mother of invention, then scarcity is it’s grandmother”. When you have extreme constraints these 4 ‘hot tips’ can be used by a frugal innovator to bat down those barriers to innovation and success. There is opportunity for brilliance in difficult times.