Developing creativity in an analytical mind
Updated: Mar 28
The journey from analytical to creative and 3 tips to overcome challenges that will come on your way
In a previous post we discussed how challenging it is to embrace chances and take advantage of the process to grow. As divas, we are used to set trends and create rules, so we welcome changes, but it doesn't mean that the process is simple.
I'm an currently in a career transition, shifting from an analytical focus (what is pretty comfortable for me) to a creative one, as I mentioned in the last post. In other words, I am holding hands with questions instead of answers, swimming in ambiguity and jumping into the storming world of design to hack my analytical brain and embrace creativity. This shift in mindset has been one of the toughest changing processes I've been through, harder than moving to a different cities and countries.
Here are my main challenges and how I am overcoming them:
All about productivity: In the Gallup Strengths Finder assessment, my first strength is achiever, that means I am a hard worker motivated by accomplishments. I feel great about getting things done in the most effective way, so, if I have a problem or project, I am used to jumping into developing a solution. While designing human-centered creative projects, the first step should be analyzing the problem (or design challenge) from different angles, asking questions, engaging with many people, gathering customer’s perspective. On my initial projects, I felt unproductive and anxious about going through this non-linear process. I was not achieving, or getting things done, and going back to the whiteboard and re-starting in the middle of the project felt frustrating. Once I realized that the results of design-oriented ‘chaotic’ projects are much superior than those of ‘linear’ solutions, my motivation and enthusiasm increased, and I could relax and trust the process. To fulfill my own need of accomplishment, I have added even ambiguous tasks to my checklist. I get fulfilled upon completion, even if I don’t have an immediate tangible outcome
The real meaning of diversity: This is currently a trendy topic; all companies talk about building diverse teams to developing better products/services and improving financial results. Diversity usually refers to people from different genders, races, nationalities. If you look at my team’s picture, you’ll see some of this type of diversity, but it doesn’t really stand out. The diversity in backgrounds, professional and personal experiences and mindsets is the real strength of the team. My colleagues always challenge me to see life, and business problems, through an alternative angle. Whenever I believe I have everything figured out, I discover that I am wrong, and I actually feel great about it! Great teams have complementary skills as ingredients, and collaboration as the special sauce that brings flavor and enables great results. It’s not always easy to work with people who thinks so differently. Sometimes, designers want to keep brainstorming and I want to come up with an process or action plan for execution. When this happens, I try to remember my yoga classes , and take a deep breath to recenter, be patient and trust the process. Sometimes I speak up, explain why I think we should follow a different approach, get their feedback and together we define the next steps. I am learning each day how to better balance both approaches.
But first, research: Last week, when I got assigned to a new project, anxiety kicked in as I didn’t have a brilliant idea right away. Tension and creativity don’t really get along. So, I started researching about my project’s topic. As I enjoyed the process and relaxed, many ideas started to flow, naturally. When I shared my thoughts with the team, they were all onboard, and even better ideas were generated! I am discovering what blocks my creativity and what enables it. Research by myself or ideation with the team with a relaxed mind are powerful boosters. I still have a hard time feeling productive when I do research, as I am not technically building anything. But, as I add research to my checklist (as I mentioned above), and experience the results of the process, I feel more confident.
To help me on my shift from analytical to creative mindset, I have adopted new habits, like reading more fiction books (instead of mainly business books), visiting various museums, using storytelling in all my professional and personal projects and even watching science fiction movies, that are not my favorites. I still have uneasy days, but they are more rare and I can manage my frustration and quickly return to a positive (and productive) mindset.
Changing mindset or creating new habits are certainly tough changes. When the transition is over the result are generally to be really rewarding. I would love to hear from other divas what are your main challenges through change, what are your strategies to overcome them and succeed on your purpose. Leave a comment here or on Twitter @ideasfordivas.