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Give the team the opportunity to ‘sleep on it’ or invite them to go for a walk. Try to avoid a situation where the team returns to their desks where the noise of email, phone and conversations will grab the brain’s attention.

Phase 3: Illumination

Te third phase is Illumination. Tis is the eureka moment. Te instant where the bright idea emerges. Tere’s no control over when this happens. It can make an appearance at the most inconvenient time – in the middle of the night, while you’re driving the car, on a crowded Tube journey. And you’ll know from experience that when the moment arises it’s exhilarating. Te rush to share it or to start to work on that notion is overwhelming.

Phase 4: Implementation

Moving into the fourth phase, Imple- mentation, the team works together to explore and evaluate ideas. Te death knell for any creative endeavour is the phrase: “Tat won’t work”. It’s also the lazy option because it’s the easiest option. To exploit the genius of the ideas they’ve generated, the team needs to harness the support of two other behaviours: Seeking Information and Testing Understanding.

Seeking Information Seeking Information is asking other people for their views, opinions and reactions. Examples of this behaviour in the imple-

mentation phase could include: ``

`` ``

`` `` `` ``

“What are the strengths of this idea?”

“What are three reasons why this will work better than any other idea?”

“If you were the customer, how might you react to this?”

“What possibilities might this create?” “Why?”

“Why not?” “What if…?”

Exercising this behaviour encourages the team to explore and test their ideas in depth, saving them from premature decisions. Seeking Information also helps with convergent thinking, finding

links between related ideas. For example: ``

“Where is there common ground/overlap?”


“What’s similar between these two ideas?”


“If this campaign were an animal, what would it be?” – encouraging the brain to make connections between apparently unrelated pieces of knowledge.

Testing Understanding Testing Understanding is a behaviour which checks out an assumption you have and/or which tests whether something mentioned earlier has been correctly understood. It’s useful to provide clarity across the team. To use the orchestra analogy, the team is fol- lowing the score in unison. Examples

of Testing Understanding might be: ``

“Did you say you thought it had both regional and local appeal?”

`` `` ``

“Can I just check we’re talking about the same person?”

“Does that mean you will need to work on the account manager?”

“You’re suggesting a blended approach, is that right?”

Disagreeing Questioning is one of the critical skills for creativity, helping the team to challenge wisdom, question the impossible, be provocative. It can also be useful to provoke through the use of another behaviour, Disagreeing. When the team is evaluating ideas,


Recognising people for their contri- butions and their efforts throughout the process is also important. Using Supporting behaviour (agreement or support for a contribution or a person) elicits the release of oxytocin and dopamine in the brain. Tis leads people to feel good and to feel a sense of trust in the person who’s noticed their contribution. Examples

of Supporting behaviour might be: ``

“Tat’s a great idea.” `` ``

“You’re doing a great job in generating ideas, keep them coming.”

“Te question you just asked is really helpful.”

Giving Feelings Another behaviour, Giving Feelings, also has a positive impact on the working environment. Tis is where a team member describes how they feel about the way in which the

team is working. For example: ``

`` “I’m excited by all these possibilities.”

“I feel enthusiastic about what we’ve decided to do.”

Recognising people for their contributions and their efforts throughout the process is important

now is the time to have someone who takes the role of devil’s advocate. Te final element of this phase is

for the team to make some decisions about which options to pursue. Voting for, or ranking, the creative ideas that have emerged provides focus in this final phase. Te team can also leverage their network to test these ideas. Approaching the creative

process with an open, curious and judgment-free mindset is a sure-fire way to get the ball rolling. Emotions are contagious and it won’t be long before colleagues throw caution to the wind and get involved.

To optimise your contributions to the creative process, notice the behaviours that best serve you to shift from ideas generating and shaping (Seeking Pro- posals, Proposing Content and Building) to exploring and evaluating (Seeking Information, Testing Understanding and Disagreeing); leverage the contagion value of Supporting and Giving (posi- tive) Feelings throughout the process.


Creativity is everyone’s responsibility in a business. It’s a shared endeavour. We each have a corporate responsibility to help our organisation, and our part in it, to adapt and survive. Ask yourself the all-important question: “What can I do to enhance creativity in what I do?” Make a list of at least 10 ideas and then ask yourself the question again. Contact the three most creative people you know, share your ideas and ask them how they might be improved – a great first step to improving your creativity at work.

Ally Yates is an expert in Behaviour Analysis and author of Utter Confi-

dence (Panoma Press). Follow her on Twitter @Allyyates_UC and visit her website at

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