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While it can be debated, and likely will be, it is my opinion that creativity can be learned.  You can acquire the ability to be creative.

Creativity is a necessary ability for any work that you perform.  life demands daily efforts at creativity.  It is essential to problem solving.  So, how do you learn to be creative?  Creativity is associated with many drivers, including the setting or environment that you are in, other people who participate in these efforts, your own views and capabilities, circumstances, and your desire to be innovative and your personal pursuit at being creative.

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For me, the best efforts to be creative involved connecting the dots between different aspects of life.  I look for, and sometimes find linkage between one idea and another.  Often, two or more ideas may appear to be unrelated.  However, if I can combine divergent thoughts, they can collaborate and join in new and innovative ways.  Sometimes, 1 + 1 really does equal 3.

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Having worked in the media field for over 30 years, it always struck me as odd how many of my peers felt that they were not very creative even though their life’s work was in creative endeavours.  Perhaps most people feel that they are not very creative?  Being innovative is not simply a gift with which we are born.  It is actually an acquired skill that can be had in new and exciting ways.  There are known and proven methodologies.

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For example, the Design Thinking methodology is a perfect example of a technique to stimulate creativity from a group of coworkers who on their own might never have discovered some innovative solutions to challenging business issues.  But, together, and when using the right framework, they can discover fantastic things and create wonderful ideas.

Design thinking is a process for creative problem solving.

Design thinking has a human-centered core.  It encourages organizations to focus on the people they are creating for, which leads to better products, services, and internal processes.  When you sit down to create a solution for a business need, the first question should always be what is the human need behind it?


In employing design thinking, you are pulling together what is desirable from a human point of view with what is technologically feasible and economically viable.  It also allows those who are not trained as designers to use creative tools to address a vast range of challenges.  The process starts with taking action and understanding the right questions.  It is about embracing simple mindset shifts and tackling problems from a new direction.

Besides the work setting and the trusted Design Thinking approach, what else can I do to be creative in my personal life, as an individual, and not in a work group?  Here are 9 suggestions to get you started.


In order to enhance your creativity, here are three things you can do to practice.

  1. Become an explainer – talk to yourself.  Tell yourself what you learned.  Replay the learning back to yourself and give yourself a presentation of the new learning.  It will help you to gain clearer insights into the new learning.  Teaching others what you learned is a similar and equally powerful way to learn better.
  2. Practice openness – The most creative people are typically very open people. If you are someone who resists new ideas and experiences, that does not mean you cannot be creative.  It just means that you need to develop a new set of habits to try new ideas on for size rather than rejecting them just because they are new.
  3. Keep asking new questions – As an easy exercise to practice asking questions, think about a problem you are trying to solve right now. Now, ask yourself how a variety of your friends would approach that same problem.  Imagine a person from another country encountering your problem.  Would they take a different perspective?  Use the lenses of different people as a way of training yourself to describe a problem in different ways.

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Creativity is a skill that you can work on with time, training, and effort.  There are many areas you can focus on to improve your overall creativity.  Engage in creative exercises like reading, writing, and listening to music to sharpen your creativity.  Learn as much as possible and open yourself up to new ideas and experiences.  Make lifestyle changes like walking more, exercising regularly, and getting more sleep to give your brain the boost it needs to increase your creative skills.  Most of all, have fun.  A happy mind is a creative mind, as learning drives creativity and creativity is a grand adventure.  It rewards the soul.

About the Author:

Michael Martin has more than 35 years of experience in systems design for broadband networks, optical fibre, wireless and digital communications technologies.

He is a Senior Executive with IBM Canada’s Office of the CTO, Global Services. Over the past 14 years with IBM, he has worked in the GBS Global Center of Competency for Energy and Utilities and the GTS Global Center of Excellence for Energy and Utilities. He was previously a founding partner and President of MICAN Communications and before that was President of Comlink Systems Limited and Ensat Broadcast Services, Inc., both divisions of Cygnal Technologies Corporation (CYN: TSX).

Martin currently serves on the Board of Directors for TeraGo Inc (TGO: TSX) and previously served on the Board of Directors for Avante Logixx Inc. (XX: TSX.V). 

He serves as a Member, SCC ISO-IEC JTC 1/SC-41 – Internet of Things and related technologies, ISO – International Organization for Standardization, and as a member of the NIST SP 500-325 Fog Computing Conceptual Model, National Institute of Standards and Technology.

He served on the Board of Governors of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) and on the Board of Advisers of five different Colleges in Ontario.  For 16 years he served on the Board of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Toronto Section. 

He holds three master’s degrees, in business (MBA), communication (MA), and education (MEd). As well, he has diplomas and certifications in business, computer programming, internetworking, project management, media, photography, and communication technology.