There’s a great new book out on how to be more creative called Imagine: How Creativity Works. Written by Jonah Lehrer, Contributing Editor at Wired, the book has some very interesting information for marketers.
In the 1990s fMRI technology allowed scientists to learn a lot more about how our brains work. According to Lehrer, much of what we believed about marketing and business needs to be re-examined as a result. Here are some of the major takeaways from the book.
1. Businesses with creative workers should paint their offices blue.
Blue is a relaxing color; and studies show that creative activity in the brain increases when people see blue.
2. The old brainstorming rules no longer apply.
Some of us learned long ago in brainstorming that there are no bad ideas. Lehrer says that research on brain activity proves this wrong. Dissent – expressing differing views, questioning someone’s idea – actually increases creative output. Make sure you encourage contrariness in your business (the opposite of what many employees are encouraged to do, which is agree with the boss).
3. Businesses should welcome diversity and hire outsiders.
This was interesting to me, because as an outsource marketing professional, I see many ads that call for a person with marketing experience in the industry of the hiring organization. In fact, business may benefit from hiring people outside their industry to get new perspectives. They also should hire people from diverse backgrounds and cultures.
4. Businesses should encourage employees to mix it up.
Cubicles and corner offices, silo-ed departments are giving way to break rooms, dining areas, even play areas where employees can play sports together. According to Lehrer, cities are hotbeds of creativity for just that reason.
5. Marketers should take more vacations. Well, at the least, they should relax more.
Studies show that creativity increases when people are relaxed. Maybe that’s why the Madmen of yesterday took long lunches and drank martinis. This explains why putting ideas or projects on the “back burner” and coming back to them often leads to success. It also explains why we get creative ideas in the shower or while washing the dishes. We think our brains are not active at these times, but in fact research shows that brain activity increases when we relax.
6. Anyone can increase their creativity.
If you believe that certain people are born creative and others have no chance at being creative, think again. By spending more time at play, thinking like a child, mixing it up in a diverse crowd of people, and inviting dissent, you can increase your creativity.