• Innovation

4 Keys to Creativity at Work

Observation – Play – Fight Routine – Experiment


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Business sustainability has always relied on innovation, but the speed of technological and market change today has made building innovative organizational cultures a top priority.

Central to delivering this objective is the need to release people’s individual creativity. And business people as a rule tend to be conservative, systems focused and not good at creativity.

In this instructive video UBC Sauder Professor Darren Dahl offers four keys to unlocking personal and team creativity. For business leaders his advice is critical – how can you genuinely lead and develop an innovative culture unless you understand the ground rules of creativity?

Dahl explains his four keys as:

1/ OBSERVATION – Our brains are built to project our own outlook onto others. So we assume other people see things the way we do. This narrows our creative vision. We need to open up to other people’s views and embrace difference.

2/ PLAY – As adults we tend to follow linear thinking to reach a conclusion. Children with open, playful, minds don’t do this and come up with more varied and creative solutions to problems. Play can stimulate creativity.

3/ FIGHT ROUTINE – We are psychologically disposed to conserve energy and find the ‘path of least resistance’ in our endeavours. This leads us to revert to what we know and set the autopilot rather than be open to the new. This needs to be resisted.

4/ EXPERIMENT – Set the famous ‘marshmallow challenge’ kindergarten kids will rapidly come up with experimental prototypes until they succeed. Adults get stuck on one solution which they have spent time discussing and planning before producing. The kids, being open to fast failure and experiment, are more likely to succeed.


“Creativity is a skill – it can be learned, practiced and improved” Professor Darren Dahl

Canada’s UBC Sauder Executive Education is located in the heart of Vancouver’s business district, known for its strong Pacific Rim connections, vibrant multiculturalism and spectacular natural environment surrounded by ocean and mountains.

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