Thinking about Creativity
One characteristic of peak performance is the knowledge that you will never run out of options. Come what may, you've got something you can try....

Knowing you can do it means that you have the confidence to try it another way if your first response hasn't worked, instead of throwing up your hands and succumbing to despair....

A related characteristic is a willingness to experiment. You will try different approaches; you are attentive to how well they work or why they don't work, and by experimenting, you develop a repertoire of options. (52)

Mentally Tough; The Principles of Winning at Sports 
Applied to Winning in Business. James Loehr and Peter McLaughlin

Fostering Creativity

Thinking about Creativity

What are the hallmarks of creativity?
                constraints connections design resources

Creativity is a heightened experience of life. Creativity is fostered by play, but it is not killed by pressure.
Creativity is generative; it attracts others to join in your work and makes a space for their contribution.
Creativity uses new connections to function through, because of and around constraints.
Creative solutions are new and good and surprising. The best solutions are an elegant and economical play between resources and design.

How can you take stock of your available resources?
                time, treasure, talent

Talent: your own knowledge, information, skills, judgment (and others who will share theirs with you)
Time: time and space
Treasure: money, connections to money, material goods and people who will give you free stuff

Does design matter?
            economical elegance

The argument between the scientists and the engineers: make it perfect vs. make it work
elegant, economical -- the most functional solution using the fewest resources
... but what about beauty, proportion, harmony, attractiveness, good taste ...?

A Comparison:
Creative LimitationsCreative ConditionsCreative Pro-Action
Things you have already encountered: materials, creatures, peopleEncountering new things, people or creaturesSeek out new things, people or creatures
What you believe about who you are and what you can do (your place in society) An unsettled or fluid social struture (new jobs, new roles)Re-define the stakeholders in your task, event or thing. 
Established ideas about a process for creating or producing a thingPressure on a traditional process or resources, discovery of a new resourceRe-evaluate the components of a traditional process
Established ideas about what should be produced (what is good/valuable to do)New social values about what is good to be produced or doneBring to light the "hidden" received wisdom and question it.
Expertise in a certain mediaDevelopment of new mediaTry a new media for expression
Fear of risk (if it ain't broke, don't fix it.)A risk-taking society; or no big risk associated with changeMinimize risk; add time for incubation.
Lack of instruments or systems of measurementNew instruments and new systemsCreate new instruments or systems for measurement

Fostering Creativity

What are your creative strategies?
            recursive consideration of design & resources

Establish a goal -- create a constraint. Describe the "platonic ideal" that you are striving for. Incorporate the constraint into the design.

List all your constraints -- time pressure, geographical features, client demand, materials available, physics, what you believe about yourself, what you believe about your task, what you believe about your resources, what you believe about your team, what you know and what you think you know.

Change your perspective: Isolate all the elements in your project and move them into new relationships with each other.

Invert your ideas. Look for ways to turn your expectations and assumptions about your goals and each of the elements leading up to your goal inside-out.

Seek stimulation and silence: Go to a place that is creative and give yourself time to "incubate."

If you work on a team, find out who is stimulated by time-pressure, and who is stymied by time-pressure.  Check out who values rules & traditions, and who does not.  What will induce a team member to take a risk, and what will prevent him or her from taking a risk?

Be a good steward: Always use a resource to create a new resource. At a minimum, learn from your event.

Choose the generative idea that involves others and encourages them to add their resources to yours.

Re-examine Your Goals: Learn when to "declare victory," end the effort, and try something new.

What problems choke off creativity?

Disagreement between team members regarding need for new design.
Debate on the value of (usefulness of or customer receptivity to) new design.
Team members estimate risk-level differently, and (generally speaking) some team members more willing than others to take risks.
Some team members have a greater value for rules and traditions than others.
Disagreement on design aesthetic.

No source of stimulation
No time for incubation
Constraints seen as barriers rather than useful elements of the design (constraints as yet untransformed): time pressure, geographical features, client demand, materials available, physics, what you believe about yourself, what you believe about your task, what you believe about your resources, what you believe about your team, what you know and what you think you know