5 for 5 – Ask these questions to spur your creativity

13 Apr

Photo Apr 12, 9 51 11 PM


Good morning.

I believe are all in the creativity business. Every day we arrive at work with problems on our desk, in our email, and many other places. And while our job is to generate ideas and new solutions, often we get caught in the mire of the problem and its obstacles. Sometimes this is due to lack of information…other times it is due to being stuck in a mindset of satisfying “the short term”. And as we work within the constraints and sometimes negative feedback, to move the team or project to where it really needs to be, here are some questions you can ask yourself and those around you to help you focus on creating amazing ideas:

“How might we…”

This is taken from Tim Brown’s book “Change by Design”. This is a question that draws everyone associated with a project into a discussion about defining the problem and generating great ideas. I believe it also helps teams work within the constraints and truly see solutions. It is about dreaming big without letting the daunting size of the challenge hold you back.

“What would my replacement do?”

I just re-read the story of Intel’s former CEO Andy Grove and this questions in Chip and Dan Heath’s book “Decisive”. This question, as Andy Stanley also mentioned, brings amazing objectivity to the discussion. As we all can get attached to our projects and lose the insight to see new solutions or even a major pivot, this question allows us to step outside our current situation and generate ideas that we might feel constrained from our current point of view, but might be exactly what the team, project, or company needs to thrive.

“What would have to be true for this to work?”

I use this question at least once a week. It was taken from Roger Martin and AG Lafley’s book on strategy, “Playing to Win”. The greatness of this question lies in drawing naysayers into productive discussions. By reframing a “no” or some other negative response by asking what would have to be true for an idea to work, even the detractors are caught up in providing solutions rather than repeatedly acknowledging the problem.

“What could you do with…?”

Admittedly, I heard this line used in a movie. A district attorney was trying to convince the mayor to look beyond the difficulties of putting criminals behind bars to see the potential in having 18 months of clean streets. This question is about helping people see through the fog of short-termism and look out to imagine what their world could look like with a solution in place.

As mentioned in the comments above, I use these regularly to challenge myself and others in our initiatives and projects. What questions are you asking to generating new and big ideas?

Here’s this week’s 5 for 5:

A practical definition of reputation – by Seth Godin – @thisissethsblog


SO WHAT: A wonderful reminder that we choose our actions….those actions define what people can expect from us.

Tags: Leadership


Brilliance Demands Bravery – by Todd Henry – via the Accidental Creative


SO WHAT: The title says it all. Stepping up and sharing ideas…putting your work into the world requires bravery.

Tags: Leadership, Creativity, Perseverance


The Question Zero of Strategy – Ana Andjelic – via Medium


SO WHAT: What is the problem you are trying to solve?

Tags:  Strategy, Creativity


3 Ways To Train Yourself To Be More Creative – By Art Markham – via Fast Company


SO WHAT: Treat creativity as a skills; it can be learned and developed

Tags: Creativity


Slide Makeovers: Transforming PowerPoint Bullets Into Visual Learning – by Scott Schwertly – Slideshare blog


SO WHAT: Great tips for making your presentation much more visually engaging and appealing

Tags: Presentation

All the best, kevin