I’m really not that creative

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Releasing untapped creative potential from your team

“I’m not really creative,” is a common first reaction I hear from clients when we begin a LEGO® Serious Play® session. Faced with a little bag of LEGO bricks, procedural-minded people often think: this isn’t for me. That’s because classic linear-thinkers (or once creative people now accustomed to the demands of a procedure-centric organization) find it difficult to set aside rules and the predictable comfort of their linear ways of thinking. The unspoken question is: How can we solve a tough business problem by “thinking with our hands”?

That initial doubt quickly turns to curiosity as participants make LEGO models and then take turns sharing metaphorical stories about them. By the end of the meeting there is no question that each person has made creative and meaningful contributions and that there are solid next actions the group can take together.

Why do so many of us who have been successful at so many and varied pursuits in life still harbor a deep seated disbelief in our own creativity? I wonder if it’s not because we are told at an early age—as early as age 7—that it’s time to color in the lines, refrain from imaginary games, and “grow up.”  We also learn to fear the embarrassment that comes from publicly giving the “wrong” answer.

It’s also true that many modern work environments don’t bring to the surface our innate creativity. Case in point: when a manager presents her team with a complex business problem and then asks, “Does anyone have any ideas?” it’s not uncommon to hear deafening silence in response. That’s because procedural people don’t easily process open-ended “options” questions. This is the elegance of LEGO Serious Play. It provides a procedural way (i.e., build, then share models) to access creative, or “options,” thinking (i.e., invent a new idea).

I wonder how many people in your company when asked to help suggest new ideas for improving things are saying to themselves. “I’m really not that creative”?  What ways are you finding to unleash the hidden potential of your people so committed to the daily process/procedures that seem to be working just fine?  What is the opportunity cost for your future if you don’t?

Building a Better Business Using the LEGO®Serious Play® Method is one proven, effective approach.  What others are you using?