How to Get to Great Ideas by Pushing Past the Obvious: Dave Birss Talks to Marketing Smarts [Podcast]

How to Get to Great Ideas by Pushing Past the Obvious: Dave Birss Talks to Marketing Smarts [Podcast]

"One of those main myths is that creativity is binary, so you're either creative or you're not, or an idea is either creative or it isn't," he says. To build motivation, you just need a little taste of success, and you'll find it suits you (15:50): "A lot of people believe you can't teach curiosity, and I agree. "A lot of people think, if you get interested in something, they think, 'But other people are already doing it, and they're doing it so much better than me: There's no point getting started, I don't know where to start.' They are not motivated to get started. Peer pressure and recognition both foster curiosity in the workplace (17:06): "There's two things that are important for fostering curiosity in the workplace. "The other thing is to reward people. If you look at creative industries, what really makes people try harder in creative industries is awards shows. That's all about going from A to B as quick as possible, and money is a really good way of doing that—financial motivation. Get your copy of How to Get to Great Ideas: A System for Smart, Extraordinary Thinking. I first saw Dave Birss present on creativity at Spark.me 2018.

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The term “creativity” in marketing organizations conjures up a different image for everyone. Some people associate it with brainstorming sessions, others with staff retreats involving crafts or games. Still others think about “creativity” in relation to the collection and presentation of data.

But according to highly creative speaker, consultant, and author Dave Birss, “creativity” is something else entirely. In his new book, How to Get to Great Ideas: A System for Smart, Extraordinary Thinking, Dave begins by debunking 10 myths about creativity.

“One of those main myths is that creativity is binary, so you’re either creative or you’re not, or an idea is either creative or it isn’t,” he says.

“But of course it’s not binary: it’s a sliding scale,” Dave explains. “You measure [creativity] with obviousness. Something that is completely obvious has required no mental effort at all. Therefore, it’s not creative.”

In Dave’s view, “something that is nonobvious and gives us value is something we define as being creative.”

Here are just a few more highlights from our conversation.

To build motivation, you just need a little taste of success, and you’ll find it suits you (15:50): “A lot of people believe you can’t teach curiosity, and I agree. I don’t think you can teach curiosity. But I believe you can foster curiosity in the workplace. Curiosity is something you can foster in yourself.

“A lot of people think, if you get interested in something, they think, ‘But other people are already doing it, and they’re doing it so much better than me: There’s no point getting started, I don’t know where to start.’ And then they just forget about it. They are not motivated to get started. But that’s not the way motivation works.

“The way motivation works is you do it and you go through the slog. The first time you do it, do it small. Go through the slog. You get to the end of it and then you’re like, ‘Well, actually, I’m quite satisfied with what I did.’ You get a bit of a buzz from it, and that buzz feeds you for the next time around the cycle, where you do something.

“Go through the slog to achieve something at the end—do something slightly bigger. You end up with this circle where, at the end of it, you get the satisfaction of having achieved something which gives you the energy to go round the circle again…. It’s all about building your ability to do stuff.”

Peer pressure and recognition both foster curiosity in the workplace (17:06): “There’s two things that are important for fostering curiosity in the workplace. One is that peer pressure is amazingly powerful. So if you create something that’s within the business itself that people are going to start sharing information—sharing stuff that they’ve spotted that’s really interesting and maybe saying why they thought it was interesting—if you put that in as part of what’s happening in the business, then if everyone else is doing it, people will start to compete with each other. And you’ll start to get more and more people looking for interesting stuff, not just feeding their own mind in a curious way, but feeding other people’s minds as they do it. Having peer pressure is…

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