Discover how highly creative people in business, design and the arts activate their imaginations to find creative solutions -- and give them a try!

Staff Writer

Simply put, it takes imagination to be creative, and it takes creativity to innovate. Here are some easy and fun ways to activate your imagination. Start experimenting today!

1. Take time to be idle and tap into your intuitive imagination

Pentagram’s legendary graphic designer Paula Scher gets her best ideas when she is in boring situations: “I realize that when I’m sitting in a taxicab in traffic, or on my way to the airport, or waiting to get on a plane, or trapped in some other boring situation, that’s when I get the best ideas, because I’ve got nothing else interfering with it… I have to stop reading emails or being anywhere near the internet to be able to create.”

2. Dare to dream

Brian Scudamore founder and CEO of O2E Brands and 1-800-GOT-JUNK asks his staff to dream on the job. He designated an entire wall for sharing business dreams. The words “Can You Imagine?” are written at the center of the wall, and ideas radiate out from there – no hierarchy or special order. Anybody from his team can suggest goals for the wall at any point to instill some sense of permanency.

Scudmore says, “After several years, the wall becomes a fantastic mix of aspirations for the future and reminders of goals we’ve actually achieved: a testament to what dreaming can accomplish.” He says the “Can You Imagine” wall isn’t meant to be an obligation or a burden, with deadlines and deliverables. “It’s supposed to be quiet background motivation: subliminal but powerful. Simply by posting these ideas, our brains start looking for connections and spotting opportunities when they arise.”

The “Can You Imagine” wall empowers his employees people to complete passion projects that align with the company’s broader vision. Scudamore says it has had a huge impact on momentum and engagement, resulting in some of their biggest achievements. Source: The Globe and Mail

3. Feed your brain with diverse stimuli

My favourite way of feeding my brain is best described by Ray Bradbury:

If you stuff yourself full of poems,essays, plays, stories, novels, films, comic strips, magazines, music, you automatically explode every morning like old faithful. I have never had a dry spell in my life, mainly because I feed myself well, to the point of bursting. I wake early and hear my morning voices leaping around in my head like jumping beans. I get out of bed to trap them before they escape.

4. Be an explorer in the world

Artists and scientists have a lot in common in terms of how they make discoveries and solve problems, Keri Smith encourages you to be an artist and a scientist in her wonderful book on How to be an Explorer in the World. It is filled with playful activities (fun for kids too) to inspire you to document and observe the world around you as if you’ve never seen it before: Take notes. Collect things you find on your travels. Document findings. Notice patterns. Copy. Trace. Focus on one thing at a time. Record what you are drawn to.

5. Get serious about play

Diane Ackerman, author of Deep Play, says: “Play is an activity enjoyed for its own sake. It is our brain’s favorite way of learning and maneuvering. Because we think of play as the opposite of seriousness, we don’t notice that it governs most of society–political games, in-law games, money games, love games, advertising games, to list only a few spheres where gamesmanship is rampant.”

“Play is serious business,” says Arthur Molella, director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Lemelson Center. “At stake for us are the ways we socialize and teach future generations of scientists, inventors, artists, explorers, and other individuals who will shape the work in which we live.” Molella believes humans, as a species, have always had a concept of play, but only recently has play begun getting the serious attention it deserves as a source of discovery. It is remarkable how frequently inventors speak about their work in terms of play. If you examine Thomas Edison’s notebooks, Alexander Graham Bell’s prototypes and Stephanie Kwolek’s Kevlar® you will see evidence of play at work

Remember how you played as a child, and what you did that made you lose track of time, for that is the clue to your natural born genius.

This weekend take time out to play. You never know, you may discover a valuable new business idea.