Archive for the ‘Creativity in the Workplace’ Category

The Secret Ingredient of Creativity for Profit & Productivity

Friday, July 13th, 2012

I’ve noticed, as I go around talking to organisations about diagnosing, understanding and harnessing their creativity to improve their business practices, that there is one crucial ingredient of creativity that most people don’t know about. This makes me think that idea Incubation might be the secret ingredient of innovation and problem solving.

Some people, like Steve Jobs, know the secret automatically, but you can learn to use it too.

What is Incubation, and how does it work?

Incubation is what we do when we stop thinking intensely and deliberately about something, and allow our brains and thoughts to flow. Incubation is the process of allowing yourself to think about things at an unconscious level, and using it results in “Eureka”, or “light-bulb” moments and break-through ideas.  All “creatives” know how it works, and they use it deliberately to help them solve problems, create innovations and exploit opportunities.

Incubation should be factored in to any problem solving process, whether it’s developing new products, improving teamwork, knowing how to lead effectively or generally adapting effectively and well to change. Incubation is the secret ingredient for staying ahead of the game.

So how can you make it work for you?

The process of creative problem solving requires a number of elements coming together, and all human beings have an inbuilt ability to do it.  When we use Incubation, whether deliberately or not, we allow ourselves to percolate ideas from deep inside, without directly thinking about them.

This process involves a change of scenery or activity. It explains why sometimes we have breakthrough ideas or find solutions in our sleep or when we are in the shower. By changing the way your thought patterns operate, you can allow your brain to “free-range” and this change allows your brain to see patterns, put pieces together and join the dots.

While some people know how to deliberately use Incubation, everyone can learn how to do it. You can learn how to deliberately factor in Incubation time to your personal or organisational processes. Companies like Google and Pixar are famous for using various Incubation techniques, like allowing free time for employees and having free-form work places that provide various activities like talking, playing sports and walking around the grounds, and they have reaped the rewards by becoming dominating players in their fields.

But you don’t need to invest in new buildings or huge organisational change. It’s easy to learn how to increase and exercise Incubation. There are a number of exercises you can do (and which we can help you with) or you can do it yourself. On a personal level, you can go for walks, do crossword puzzles, look at the sea, play a game of squash, or doodle. Any activity that takes your mind off the problem at hand and that allows your thoughts to either roam freely or be focussed on an entirely different activity will do the trick. On an organisational level, you can introduce the deliberate use of Incubation into your decision-making processes.

The key is to understand that Incubation is crucial and necessary to the creativity process, and that with a small investment in time, and learning to understand how it works, you can maximise the production of all innovative solutions.

Working creatively and smart maximises individual and organisational out-put, productivity, ideas and innovation, problem solving, time management and ultimately financial and every other sort of profit.

Make Incubation your friend, and put it to good use.


To her surprise, she found the great detective, engaged in building card houses. 

“It is not, Mademoiselle, that I have become childish in my old age. No. But the building of card houses, I have always found it most stimulating to the mind.”

Hercule Poirot, Three Act Tragedy by Agatha Christie


Lynette Jensen

Lynette Jensen is a director and co-founder of Genesys Australia and is committed to helping people achieve work-life balance through good job fit. In addition to contributing to this blog, she also writes regularly for HR Daily Community and Dynamic Business Magazine. Her articles have been re-published in India & the United Kingdom.

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Related posts:

Creativity in the Workplace

How to Spot an Original Thinker

Why IBM found Creativity = Business Success

Creativity: The Essence of Being Australian

NB: We are an independent workplace psychology practice. All views expressed here are our own and are the opinions of Stephen Kohl & his associates, which do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher and developer of GeneSys assessments, Psytech International.

Creative Innovation 2011 Conference: Creativity, Innovation & Business

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

The innaugural Creative Innovation Conference was described last year by Micenet Australia Magazine as “The Best Conference Ever”. Last week I, and two of my associates, attended Creative Innovation 2011 and I can un-ashamedly say that the 2011 version was indeed the best conference ever.

Creative Innovation 2011 brought together world-leading thinkers in the areas of innovation, business, cognitive thinking, invention, philosophy, creativity, and strategic and organisational planning and development.

Never before have I attended a conference where I was never bored, where the mix of speakers was varied yet related, where the timing was seamless, punchy and perfect, where entertainment was not simply distraction but was meaningfully woven into the fabric of the conference itself, where the venue was stylish and pleasant and not overwhelming or tacky, and where the conference participants were genuinely enlivened, challenged and clearly felt a real sense of connection to the ideas, the speakers and each other.

World famous thought leaders and thinkers like Dr Edward de Bono, Professor Daniel DennettRaymond Kurzweil and Brendan Boyle rubbed shoulders with each other and the conference participants. Major names in Australian business, like Steve Vamos, Non Executive Director at Telstra, Pip Marlow, Managing Director at  Microsoft AustraliaSimon McKeon, Chairman of Maquarie Group (Melbourne) and CSIRO and 2011 Australian of the Year, and Michael Rennie, Managing Partner of McKinsey and Company presented stream-lined, engaging addresses full of life and applicable, sensible, practical advice and thought-provoking ideas. Gifted and inspired young thinkers and problem solvers like Victor Finkel and Tan Le brought not only new ideas and ways of seeing, but hope, inspiration and light.

Ci2011 was sponsored by the crème de la crème of Australian business: ANZ was the major sponsor, supported by GE, The Financial Review Group, Telstra, Deloitte, and many others, as well as the Victorian State Government and many Australian universities including Deakin, La Trobe, The University of Melbourne and Swinburne.

We were honoured to have played a role in the conference too, by using the me2 Creativity Diagnosis to assess the creativity of applicants for the conference scholarship program, an inspired innovation which allows for 10 people to not only attend, but to pitch their ideas for change & innovation in 60 second presentations interspersed throughout the conference. Our study revealed a number of interesting characteristics about the creative make-up of the 2011 scholarship applicants and their creative style, and helps to identify the various traits that indicate creative out-put and approach, and it would be interesting indeed to compare the results of the 2011 group with applicants in other years. (A summary of the report appears on pages 18 & 19 of the conference program, and the full report is on the Ci2011 website.)

Creative Innovation is the brain-child of Melbourne soprano and social entrepreneur, Tania de Jong AM, who, with the help of her stellar team from Creative Universe and Creativity Australia, and backed-up by the organisational support of Baldwin Consulting (for whom nothing was too much trouble) managed to change the medium of a conference presentation into something much more like an art-piece. The end result was well envisioned, beautifully orchestrated and delivered, and had charm, meaning and provided every participant with considerable food for thought and spirit.

There is much more I could say about this astonishing event, like the way MC Michael Pope managed to keep it running smoothly, effortlessly and with great aplomb and wit, like the brilliance of the young performers such as Stefan Cassomenos and Andrew Suttar or the grace, wisdom and palpable kindliness of the trio of luminary Conference Ambassadors and chairs Hugh Morgan, Sir Gustav Nossal and Professor Alan Fels, but I’m running out of space.

To find out more (and there is much more!) I highly recommend you visit the conference website, and do everything you can to be there next year!

This was not the sort of conference that inspires you on the day but quickly leaves you. This is the kind of event that stays with you like good theatre or an outstanding concert: it touches you and changes you, and you feel its effect permanently.

I didn’t know a conference could effect me like an artwork, which is the point: leading businesses like ANZ, thinkers like de Bono and artists like Tania de Jong understand that creativity is the spark that ignites all future development, innovation and inspiration.

The vision, organisation and delivery of the Creative Innovation Conference, begun as an idea over drinks, shows how creativity and business so easily comes together. All really successful outcomes take an inspired idea and build on it with commitment, planning and thorough organisation, to produce the delivery of an ultimate result that is greater than the sum of it’s parts. It’s true of business, innovation, art, sport and all successful human endeavour.

Creativity is what takes us to the future, and unites us. Creative Innovation 2011 proved that.

Lynette Jensen

Lynette Jensen is a director and co-founder of Genesys Australia and is committed to helping people achieve work-life balance through good job fit. In addition to contributing to this blog, she also writes regularly for HR Daily Community and Dynamic Business Magazine. Her articles have been re-published in India & the United Kingdom.

Please click on heading to leave a comment. More posts below.

NB: We are an independent workplace psychology practice. All views expressed here are our own and are the opinions of Stephen Kohl & his associates, which do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher and developer of GeneSys assessments, Psytech International.

How to Spot an Original Thinker

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

Original thinkers who drive innovation, adaptability and problem solving are highly valuable and sought-after, so if organisations were able to identify and encourage original thinkers they would have a huge advantage in the marketplace.

Can you spot an original thinker? Dr Mark Batey of Manchester University’s Manchester Business School believes you can.

In a recently produced MBS video interview, Original Thinkers, Dr Mark Batey, a world-leading psychology of creativity researcher, outlines the four dimensions he believes make up an original thinker and that organisations can look out for to identify original thinking in their current or potential employees:

Ideas generation

Original thinkers are highly fluent, which means they produce lots of ideas. Even though sometimes their ideas might not be practical, and it might be hard for other people to see how these solutions might be used, the key is the volume of ideas they are able to produce.

As well as the number of ideas they produce, original thinkers tend to produce different or unusual ideas.

In their approach to thinking, original thinkers often like to incubate, or let their thoughts percolate for while. This period will often be followed by a “eureka” experience, what Dr. Batey calls “Illuminative Moments”.

Personality traits

Original thinkers are inclined to be very curious. They ask lots of questions, and want to know how things work the way they do, and why.

The other personality trait that stands out in original thinkers is that they are comfortable with a high level of ambiguity and uncertainty. Original thinkers tend not to see things in black and white, and are quite happy with contradiction, competing evidence and shades of grey.


Original thinkers tend to be motivated intrinsically. This means that they have a strong drive that comes from within them. They will be very self-motivated.

In addition, Dr. Batey believes these people are quite competitive, and they will quite likely want to “beat” other people with their ideas.  Although they may work well in a collaborative team environment and be willing to share their ideas with colleagues, they will want the team to do better than it’s competitors.


Original thinkers tend to be very confident about their ideas. This applies to having ideas, believing in the quality of their ideas, sharing them, and being able to confidently implement them.


In September 2009, Olivier Serrat wrote in a paper for the Asian Development Bank, “Creativity plays a critical role in the innovation process, and innovation that markets value is a creator and sustainer of change. In organisations, stimulants and obstacles to creativity drive or impede enterprise.”

The ability to identify original thinkers would clearly provide huge advantages to organisations faced with the fast changing pace of a developing national and world economy.

As Mark Batey says, “It’s not just being an original thinker, it’s being an original applier as well”.

Watch Video: Original Thinkers: Dr. Mark Batey

Lynette Jensen

Lynette Jensen is a director and co-founder of Genesys Australia and is committed to helping people achieve work-life balance through good job fit. In addition to contributing to this blog, she also writes regularly for HR Daily Community and Dynamic Business Magazine. Her articles have been re-published in India & the United Kingdom.

Please click on heading to leave a comment. More posts below.

Related Posts:

The Creativity Imperative

King of the Manning River: Creativity & Problem Solving in the Workplace

NB: We are an independent workplace psychology practice. All views expressed here are our own and are the opinions of Stephen Kohl & his associates, which do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher and developer of GeneSys assessments, Psytech International.

Creativity: The Essence of Being Australian

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Creativity is at the core of all human endeavour. It’s what makes us keep searching for new ideas and innovations, and is what got us standing up and leaving our cave dwelling existence in the first place.

Creativity in the workplace is essential. At a macro level creativity drives innovation, and it’s innovation that drives expansion and development of industry and economy. At a micro level, every individual in the workplace can be more productive, happy and effective if they apply creativity to problem solving, team dynamics and management, and their general work and work/life balance.

There has been a tendency in Australia to marginalise the word “creativity”. As a society, we have been guilty, I think, of using it almost as a pejorative term, and to see it as something outside the mainstream. We have tended to think of it as being associated only with the arts, or with advertising, or with people who wear “funny clothes” and are generally not quite “like us”. But this is to trivialise creativity, and not understand what it really is, and to miss the point as a growing and dynamic society, to our detriment.

Australians are probably known for loving sport and straight-talking, and for being suspicious of the more “airy fairy” which we’ve historically associated with a perceived pretention in arts, culture and intellectualism. We pride ourselves on a straightforward and egalitarian approach. And we are proud we’ll “have a go” with a minimum of fuss (No worries, Mate!).

“Having a go” is at the heart of what creativity is. Creativity allows you to make something from nothing, to look at something in a different way, to make the most of limited resources, to try something new and to solve problems. I would have thought that Australians, with our “No worries, Mate” attitude, unconsciously apply creativity very well, and fundamentally.

Surely it was this attitude, and it’s underlying basis in creativity, that recently got us through the Global Financial Crisis so well, that allowed us to stage such an inspiring, beautiful and deeply touching Sydney Olympic Games, that underlies our worship and reverence of the physical poetry of Don Bradman’s game, and that’s enabled us to have created (against all odds!) a dynamic, culturally diverse and sophisticated society from a convict settlement in just over 200 years.

Surely, creativity is at the heart of what it means to be Australian? To be prepared to “have a go” is to be creative.

In Australia, visitors tell us this all the time. While they expect the geographical, physical beauty of Australia, they don’t expect our joy, our sophisticated society, our straight-forwardness, and they are surprised that we’ve made something so complex yet unpretentious from very little and in such a short time. Isn’t this why Oprah Winfrey was so shocked and so over-come recently by the surprise and wonder of Australia? And isn’t this why we can say, “We created this – we made it with our own hands and our own thoughts”?

So if Australians, and the Australian culture generally, harness the essence of creativity without even knowing it, how much more could be achieved, individually and as a society, if we started to recognise it properly, and to apply it intentionally?

What a society we could be, and what an economy we could create!

Lynette Jensen

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King of the Manning River: Creativity & Problem Solving in the Workplace

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Two things in my psyche, a commitment to the important role of creativity, and a love of boats and the sea, converged this week in the form of a Manning River oyster farmer, Gary Ruprecht.

Through the week, I’ve been involved in a discussion on the Linked In Occupational and Organisational Psychologists Group, about the importance of creativity in the workplace (also see my previous post). At the same time, I’ve been re-floating my boat Aphrodite, formerly owned by Ronald Biggs, which I’ve written about before, and which decided to sink in shallow-ish water on the Manning River.

One of the hallmarks of creativity is the ability to solve problems. To solve problems consistently and well, one needs to have well-developed diverse thinking ability, because the first, second or third solution, and indeed the tried and true method, might not work. A creative person will think of many things, and continue to think of new things as the situation changes. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again”. Creative people, according to some of the reading I’ve been doing, also tend to have a “never say die” attitude, which drives them to find alternative routes when the more obvious might not work.

When Aphrodite went down – probably because of a float switch failure – she tilted on the portside towards the deeper water, which meant that even at low tide, her portside gunwale (the top of the hull) was under water. Consequently, a normally fairly straightforward job of simply pumping her out at low tide wasn’t possible, because water would just flow in as fast as it was being pumped out. In addition, around Easter time we have very high tides on the Manning River, and this year they seem to have been exceptionally strong, so Aphrodite was deeper under and being pulled down more than you would normally expect.

This was a job for an expert problem solver, and despite very well-meaning offers of help from neighbours with boats, tractors, fire pumps, and impressive bravado, there was only one person I was prepared to trust to rescue my boat: Gary Ruprecht.

Gary is a third generation oyster farmer, and a fourth generation Manning River local. His German forbears settled on Mitchell’s Island, acquired land and farmed, and then took to the river to farm the famous Sydney Rock oysters. Both Gary’s sons have followed the family tradition and are also oyster farmers, and they have one of the most magnificent “offices” I know of.

Gary’s main piece of equipment is a huge and powerful flat-bottomed barge with an on-board crane, and he plies the Manning River on this boat with grace, confidence, enormous skill and not a little romance (of the river steamer by-gone days kind). After four generations, he knows the Manning River like the back of his hand. But it was as much for Gary’s talent and relish for problem solving, which I have witnessed and admired before, as for his skill and knowledge, that I asked him to rescue Aphrodite.

The operation went without a hitch really. I watched from the bank as Gary, my husband and a generous passer-by who offered his help, re-floated the boat and re-positioned her closer to shore, all in the space of a couple of hours. The process required some trial and error, creative thinking and experimentation, and the successful end result had as much to do with intelligence, creative thought and tenacity as it did with muscle, brawn, and exceptional seamanship.

Aphrodite is looking a little bit worse for wear, but nothing that time, hard work, some clean water and more tenacity can’t fix. Her ballast seems to have shifted so she’s tilting a bit, everything on board got a drenching and she’s muddy and dirty, but part of the joy of owning an old wooden boat is that it’s a constant and quite exciting adventure that pays enormous dividends in satisfaction, achievement, and yes, problem solving. (And who doesn’t love mud and saltwater!?).

Thank you Gary, Stephen and Jeremy. Here’s to creativity and problem solving, and expert applied knowledge in any workplace. I feel very grateful to have witnessed such impressive professional expertise, goodwill and thinking.

I think I’ll unofficially appoint Gary Ruprecht King of the Manning River.

Lynette Jensen

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* This is a personal view and does not necessarily represent the opinion, belief or policy of the company. More posts below.

A Room with a View (Creativity in the Workplace)

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

I’m writing this from our new Adelaide rooms, which have a beautiful view across East Terrace to Rymill Park. People are strolling through the park, families are picnicking, workers are industriously getting things ready for the Adelaide Fringe Festival, and despite the heat of an Adelaide summer, the grass is lush and the trees are waving gently in the breeze. A few months ago, I was inspired to begin this blog while looking out over Blackwattle Bay from our Sydney rooms.

A beautiful view makes you want to sit and stare and contemplate, and this leads to a state which psychologists call flow. Flow is when you are fully immersed in, and engaged with, what you are doing, and have no concern at all for time. In fact, time seems to cease to exist. You feel energised and alert. It’s this state of being that psychologists like Mihály Csíkszentmihályi and Martin Seligman believe is happiness. It’s also the state that is the most conducive to creativity, which brings me back to my view of the park.

To be at your most creative, you need to be in a state to think freely. A beautiful view helps you achieve this, as can listening to music, walking or jogging, the sound and/or sight of water, being in a forest, being together with a group of people, and many other situations that can trigger free thought. It’s a question of what works for you, and most people know what works best for them.

So why is creativity important in the workplace, and do we really want people staring out of windows thinking all day?

I believe that creativity is fundamental to the workplace. Firstly, because I think human beings are primarily creative (and if we weren’t we’d never have stood up, learnt to cook food or developed culture and industry), and secondly and fundamentally, because creativity allows you to make something from nothing.

All physical and intellectual achievement comes down to making something from nothing. In other words, having an idea and making it real. In general life, and particularly in the workplace, this translates into innovation, problem solving, and making more of the resources at hand.

Every organisation can benefit, I believe, from harnessing and fully employing creativity. Whether it’s to learn to make a company leaner and smarter, to stream-line systems and procedures, to learn to employ people who fit into the organisation and work in teams well, or to invent new products, creativity is at the heart of all successful operation and achievement.

Creativity doesn’t only take one person like me staring out a window though. In an article in the Harvard Business Review in 2008 about his highly innovative film production company, Pixar, Ed Catmull said of the creative process at Pixar, “…creativity involves a large number of people from different disciplines working effectively together to solve a great many problems”. It doesn’t take much to see that this process could be effectively generalised to every organisation, large and small alike.

Creativity is one of the most fundamental things about being human. Since the beginning of our species, creativity is what got us here. Creativity makes us visualise what we can become, individually and collectively. The greatest organisations, and the greatest endeavours and achievements require the greatest creativity.

In the end, all achievement in the workplace, and in life, comes down to two essential things: effective problem solving, and making something from nothing.


Lynette Jensen

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* This is a personal view and does not necessarily represent the opinion, belief or policy of the company. More posts below.