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I believe leadership comes from a mindset of empathy, which is the centerpiece to a creative human-centered design process. Responding to human feelings and concerns allows one to creatively nurture designs and solve problems that are truly powerful, useful and meaningful to people and society. My research and interests have consistently explored the power of diversity coupled with skills for transitioning or soft skills to tap into innovative creative thinking through making.


A majority of business leaders believe that creativity leads to greater results such as revenue growth and market share increases. Most executives agree creativity will be the most important characteristic for successfully navigating the business world of the future. They believe that corporate investments in creativity increase employee productivity and happiness, foster innovation, and improve the customer experience. Yet, a majority of the same executives admit they weren’t achieving their creative potential. 


But what does creativity look like? How can we identify a creative ourselves, students and employees?  And how can an organization or individual nurture that creativity once it’s found?  To identify these traits I’ve developed ten characteristics or laws of creativity that provide a starting point. If you find employees or yourself with these characteristics and develop a corporate culture that emphasizes and values these traits, you will be well on your way to creating nurturing a creative culture and mindset to be innovative through making.


Adaptability:  Adaptability is the ability to easily adjust to new conditions. Just as Darwin argued that a species’ survival depended on its ability to adapt to its environment, organizations and individuals today must adapt to their environment to survive and thrive.

Courage:  Most of us prefer the comfortable nature of certainty rather than the uncomfortableness of the unknown. But when we face the new and unknown, we must draw upon our courage to find the strength to move forward.  Bold moves made in the name of adaptability will challenge the status quo. Having the courage to take a stand is the only way to be truly revolutionary and innovative.

Curiosity:  As a child, were you ever told, “Curiosity killed the cat” after you had asked a series of questions? Nonsense! What, Why, How and Why Not questions will increase creativity and lead to disruptive and revolutionary changes.

Embracing failure:  Everyone fails at some point in their life.  But it’s the step we take after the failure that brings out our creativity.
Empathy: Before we can attempt to creatively solve someone’s problem, we must first identify and understand the problem from their perspective.

Grit: Nobody said this would be easy. After taking the first step, you must find the commitment and persistence you need to overcome challenging times or barriers. Be tenacious. Get Gutsy. Overcome.

Mindfulness:  Creativity requires mindfulness – an awareness and focus on the task at hand.  Being mindful of the moment will provide greater clarity of thought and helps to remove biases and filters that could impede creative thinking. 

Reflection:  Throughout a creative process there must be time for reflecting on what has happened in the past, what is happening in the present, and what might happen in the future.

Vulnerability:  Most of us don’t like being vulnerable.  But if we have the courage to show up and be vulnerable, to really open up to others, positive results can occur. 

Creation or Making:  Have you ever assembled anything from a box of parts and a set of instructions? Having some “skin in the game” brings buy-in to the process and a greater sense of accomplishment. 

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