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Meet the practitioner!

Solving Business problems with creativity with kath simpson

Hopefully you’ve read our Meet the Practitioner Interview with Creative Switch Creative Director, Kath Simpson on what Innovation means to her and her experience of working with some exciting brands like Imperial College London, Wellcome Collection, Design Council, Rewilding Britian and Family Action. If not, we encourage you to read that first interview here. In this interview, the second of the two-parter, we break down in more detail Kaths’ upcoming Innovation Methods and Mindset Short Course, Solve Business Problems with Creativity, and how this affordable, one day masterclass can help organisations create ideas informed by real-world insights and prioritise the right ideas to work on.

 

Welcome back Kath, it’s great to be sitting down with you again! Let’s get into the upcoming short course! So, who is this short course for?

This short course is for anyone who wants to tap into their creative potential to help drive innovation in their organisation. Whether you’re a manager looking to foster a more creative team culture, an entrepreneur seeking to develop new products or services, or an individual who wants to bring more creativity to their work and life, this course is designed for you.

If you’ve ever faced a creative block, struggled to come up with fresh solutions, how to choose ideas or even how to feedback on someone else’s idea, this course will provide you with a new perspective. We’ll demystify the creative process, equip you with proven tools and techniques, and empower you to make a real impact through your innovation work.

 

We all face creative blocks sometimes! What other challenges might potential participants be experiencing or looking for?

I think the most common challenge at the moment is that there’s a lot of pressure on people to come up with ideas, but we’re not taught how to do that effectively. In fact, many of the activities we do at work and what we learn in school actually stifle our creativity. Creativity is a skill that can be learned, but it feels unfair to expect people to generate ideas on demand when it can feel counterintuitive to the way we normally work and we’ve never been taught.

Humans are hardwired to be logical most of the time; that is our default mode to be rational and practical, which helps us get from A to B. However, ideas are formed when we’re relaxed, receptive, curious, and playful – states of mind that are not often abundant when we’re sitting at our desks with emails blaring.

As a designer, I’ve learned to do little things to shift my perspective and get into a different frame of mind. For example, I might watch something funny or use a creative technique like ‘Rebel’ where I essentially give myself permission to do the opposite of how things are usually done associated with my brief (we will practice this on the course). These simple actions help to get my brain out of that logical space and fire up my imagination, creating the right conditions for ideas to flow.

 

We could all be rebels sometimes! Could you provide an overview of what participants can expect to learn and experience in this short course on innovation?

In this course, we’ll approach creativity from several different angles, enabling us to harness it as a necessary element to drive innovation. We will explore the three stages of creativity that allow a creative culture to thrive. Participants will have the opportunity to apply these stages to a real-world brief: “How might we get creativity to thrive in our business?” From the very beginning, the course will be hands-on, allowing participants to practice and become familiar with the three stages of creativity. For each phase, we will identify and learn to navigate common traps while cultivating the mindsets, tools, language, and pop-up rules that foster a creative environment. By working through this brief, participants will develop ideas they can take back to their workplaces and implement directly or further refine with their teams, putting into practice the concepts and techniques learned throughout the course.

 

Sounds great! So what inspired you to develop this innovation short course?

As a graphic designer and creativity consultant, I’ve seen firsthand how many organisations struggle to innovate and come up with fresh ideas. Creativity is often seen as something that’s reserved for artists and designers, but in reality, it’s a skill that’s essential for driving innovation in any field – creativity is simply new ways of thinking about things.

I realised that the core skills and mindset I use in my design work – things like curiosity, openness to new ideas, a willingness to experiment, listening and ‘really’ looking, and the ability to connect seemingly disparate concepts – could be valuable to people in other roles and industries. However, for many people, the creative process feels mysterious or intimidating, largely due to the myth that you either have to be a genius or that ideas come out of thin air. Oh, how I wish that were true! In reality, creativity is the notion that to create is to discover and connect existing ideas in novel ways.

One of the other key things I want to emphasise is that creativity doesn’t always have to be about grand, ground-breaking ideas. Sometimes, the most impactful innovations come from making small tweaks and improvements to existing ways of doing things.

For example, when I was working at a charity, we found that our team meetings weren’t engaging, and people didn’t understand the purpose of them – essentially, they felt like a waste of time which was partly true, they just weren’t in the right format and we weren’t thinking about the audience – us. So, we asked ourselves, “How can we make meetings more engaging?” One of the ideas we implemented was having all presentations follow the Pecha Kucha style, where slides advance automatically every 20 seconds. This meant presenters had to be much more concise and planned in their delivery, and it made the presentations far more engaging. It was a bit challenging at first, but it brought a sense of fun, community, and solidarity to our meetings. And most importantly, it was a better experience for everyone.

That’s the kind of creative problem-solving I want to inspire with this course. By sharing practical tools, practices, and techniques for generating ideas, making ideas real, and fostering a culture of innovation, I hope to empower participants to tap into their own creative potential – whether that means coming up with big, bold ideas or simply finding ways to make small, incremental improvements in their work world and at home.

 

Why do you believe it’s important for the short course to have a practical approach, and how will this benefit the participants?

The only way to become more creative is to actually do it. You can read all the books and articles on Fast Company or wherever you go for that, but creativity is about making, thinking through doing, playing, and exploring avenues and learning to let go of them when they don’t work. The course will have some theory, yes, but creativity is like a muscle that needs to be exercised. We’ll start small, but throughout the day, we’ll get so comfortable with the creative mindset that when participants go back to their day-to-day – which is the real test – they’ll be able to bring what they’ve experienced in the course and apply it in their workplace.

 

Will there be any hands-on activities, group discussions, or interactive sessions during the course to enhance the learning experience?

Absolutely! I won’t reveal too much, but this course is hands-on and interactive. For those interested in taking the course, I’d say you’ll get out of it what you put into it – I sort of hate that phrase but it’s true. Come with a beginner’s mind, be curious, and be open to giving things a go. Everything is designed to enhance our ability to be and feel more creative – which might mean trying something new or trusting the process. In my opinion it’s definitely worth stretching ourselves because, as Daniel Bonner, Global Chief Creative Officer at global marketing communications agency Wunderman Thompson, says, ‘Creativity is the most sustainable source of competitive advantage any business could wish for.’ And who doesn’t want a piece of that?

 

Thanks Kath for taking the time to speak to us again today. So one final question… what sets this short course on innovation apart from others available in the market?

What sets this short course on creativity apart is its holistic approach and emphasis on debunking the common myth that creativity is all about brainstorming, blue-sky thinking, and coming up with wild ideas while sitting on beanbags. Although that dreamer mode is certainly one part of the creative process, it’s only one of three essential components.

In this course, we’re going to explore the other two often-overlooked aspects of creativity: turning ideas into action and pushing good ideas to become great ones. These stages require a very different mindset and set of tools compared to the initial idea-generation phase.

When it comes to transforming ideas into reality, it’s about refining, making choices, and prototyping. It’s a more focused and disciplined kind of creativity that involves iteration and a willingness to learn, grow, and let go.

And when we’re trying to elevate good ideas into great ones, we need to cultivate a culture of feedback and be willing to root out mediocrity. It’s crucial to know what phase you’re in – everyone has a horror story of when someone just ripped an idea to shreds, which can be unhelpful and make or break a creative culture. This is where things like our ego, organisational structures, and attachment to our own ideas can really get in the way. We have to be open to critique, willing to let go of concepts that aren’t working – “kill your darlings,” as they say in writing – and be relentless in our pursuit of great ideas.

By understanding and getting to grips with the three stages of creativity, organisations can build a strong foundation for ongoing innovation and growth.

 

We hope you found this interview inspiring and insightful! If you’re feeling readily inspired, we invite you to sign up for the short course here.