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Creativity at Work

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Language:  English
What is creativity? And can we learn it? The need to be creative at work has never been more urgent. This book shows you how.
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Is it magic? What is creativity? And can we learn it?

The need to be creative at work has never been more urgent. Yet creativity is still often seen as a mysterious, inscrutable talent possessed by only a few gifted people.

The truth is that we can all be creative. This book shows you how.

Using practical exercises and real-world examples, Creativity at Work shows you how to:

- find new opportunities for creativity;

- generate new ideas; and

- develop innovative solutions.

Never again will you be stuck for an idea. Creativity at Work will liberate your thinking and grow your imagination.

When I told one of my clients that I was writing a book about creativity at work, he said: “Managers aren’t interested in creativity. They want to know how to manage better.”

Well, maybe.

Creativity has gained a reputation, among some managers at least, as a ‘fringe’ activity: quite fun, but of little practical use in the workplace. A friend of mine refers to it as ‘basketweaving’. And management – most managerial work – is, after all, about getting practical results. It’s about doing what works, and trying to do it better.

Management is about ‘making it happen’.

But what if making it happen isn’t sufficient? What if we need to make something new happen?

What if we need to do something differently rather than better? What if, instead of continuous improvement, we want discontinuous change? What if we want – or need – to create something new?

Of course, those needs might be written in to our job descriptions. Anyone in the ‘creative industries’ – and plenty of people outside them – need to think creatively as a matter of routine. Many of us – doctors, teachers, research scientists, engineers, consultants, marketers – frequently need to find creative solutions for unprecedented problems.

Sometimes, we need to be creative because external circumstances change. Our organisation undergoes a radical restructure; we suddenly face competition from new technologies; our customers start to make new and unexpected demands.

On other occasions, we want to be creative. We might be dissatisfied with our current situation; we may want to change direction radically in our work, our career or our life.

At times like this – when we need to, or when we want to – we need to engage a different kind of thinking: not the routines, protocols and habits of operational work, but different disciplines, different ways of using our imagination and our powers of logic.

The title, Creativity at Work, has two meanings.

First, this book is about how creativity works: the principles and mechanisms by which we can look at issues more richly, generate new ideas and create new solutions.

Secondly, the book is about how we can apply the skills of creativity in the workplace. And of course, the workplace might be anywhere where we do work: office, laboratory, playing field, kitchen or nursery. At the heart of the book is a process that takes you from wanting to create something new to making it happen.

Creativity is fun. And it’s also, for more and more of us, key to our success. If you’re interested in unlocking your creative potential, whatever your work, then this book is for you.


  1. Why be creative?
    1. Operational thinking
    2. The pleasures and perils of mindsets
    3. Finding something new
  2. What is creativity?
    1. Creativity as magic
    2. Creativity as journey
    3. Creativity as competency
    4. Creativity as practice
  3. Inner motivation: the reason for the journey
    1. ‘Flow’
    2. Finding the flow state
  4. Exploring the territory: looking for opportunities
    1. The curse of the right answer
    2. What do you mean, ‘goal orientation’?
    3. ‘How to’
    4. Shifting perspective
  5. Discovering new ideas: mental agility
    1. From ‘how to’ to ‘how about’
    2. Thinking about thinking
    3. A short history of associative thinking
    4. Metaphorical thinking
    5. Using an oracle
    6. Reversal and assumption challenge
  6. Developing your ideas: design thinking
    1. Design thinking and analytical thinking
    2. The five stages of design thinking
    3. Opportunity-led planning
    4. Design thinking at work
  7. Validating your solution: objectivity
    1. Building feasibility
    2. Creating a business case
    3. Challenging your own biases
    4. The Sceptic’s Checklist
  8. Managing risk: think dangerously, live safely
    1. Managing your stakeholders
    2. Solution effect analysis
    3. Engagement: limiting the risk
  9. Afterword
  10. Appendix: where to go from here
The right mindset is important for creativity. We often ignore possibilities which we have but believe they would not work. This book describes basics about how our brain creates new ideas and how we can guide this process. The method "Design Thinking" is explained. "To be properly creative requires rules and discipline, just as much as operational thinking. But the rules, and the disciplines, are different." A book for beginners, which supports you by working questions, like: "How does a recent dream relate to your idea?" and "What´s the worst that can happen?"
Good ideas to discuss with my manager to create a development plan!
Clear and organized; I like it!
This book will help to improve creativity knowledge and act effectively.

Alan Barker

Alan Barker is Managing Director of Kairos Training Limited, a training consultancy specialising in communication skills and creativity. He is the author of 16 books, including Improve Your Communication Skills, How to Manage Meetings and How to Solve Almost Any Problem.

Alan read English at the University of Cambridge and spent 15 years as a professional actor before becoming a consultant and author. His extensive experience in theatre and radio gave him unique insights into the skills of effective communication, influencing and persuasion. Kairos Training has made those insights available to individuals and organisations around the world since 2006.

Alan’s clients include commercial organisations, public sector bodies and not-for-profit enterprises. Find out more from the Kairos website.

Alan is a member of the UK Speechwriters’ Guild and the European Speechwriter Network.

His blog, Distributed Intelligence, features articles on issues of interest, skills tips and book reviews, as well as videos of Alan running training sessions.