We Were All Designers Once: How to Reclaim Creative Confidence

Posted by Scott Underwood on 7/12/17 9:02 AM

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When we are children, we naturally find many ways to be creative. We become actors, builders, musicians, artists, designers — sometimes all in the course of a single day. But over time, many of us succumb to the pressure of fitting in or fear of ridicule and we lose confidence in our abilities, leading us to stop exercising our innate creativity.

The good news is, you can reclaim your creative confidence!

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I thought of this recently when I saw a video of Tom Kelley of IDEO on High Resolution, a podcast dedicated to product design and design thinking. I've known Tom awhile — we met in 1987 at IDEO before it was IDEO, went on to work together for over twenty years, and we remain friends.

Tom is an effective and entertaining storyteller, and in this episode (you can check it out below) he speaks on many of the same topics that drive our work here at Innovationship:

  • finding insights by observing people
  • convincing colleagues of the need to understand their customers
  • the necessity of storytelling
  • ways to best introduce the power of design thinking into organizations
  • regaining creative confidence

For instance, in our design thinking workshops, we like to show participants that they are all creative with this simple observation: every morning we engage in a sort of mini design challenge called “getting dressed.” When we dress ourselves for the day, we unconsciously go through the steps of a design process:

  • We define the constraints of the problem, considering the weather, the events of the day, the people we’ll see — even our mood
  • We look at our design options, picking those clothes from our wardrobe that fit the circumstances
  • We ideate and prototype by trying things on in the mirror, changing our mind as our quick experiment turns out good or bad
  • We learn and improve (we hope!) by taking in feedback from those around us, as well as from the way we feel during the day

Some people enjoy this daily design process so much, they make entire YouTube channels and Instagram accounts dedicated to their #OOTD (Outfit of The Day). Other people see the activity as a problem that they solve by setting out clothes the night before. Famously, some people decide to put their creative energy elsewhere, and they eliminate the problem by solving it once and for all — remember how Steve Jobs wore the same outfit every day?

What kind of designer are you? How do you express your creativity? What creative confidence have you lost over the years, and how might you reclaim it?  

P.S. Have you downloaded our new eBook The 3 Keys to Innovating Every Day? In it, we discuss what makes one company consistently innovative, while another company takes years to turn an idea into a new product or service. And we show you how to spark and inspire ongoing ideation in your organization, and what it takes to leverage and boost both personal and collective creativity. Click here to check it out!

Topics: General, Ideation & Brainstorming, Storytelling, Innovation Capacity